Steelers shred defense for 264 yards rushing
A normally good Panthers run defense was gashed early and often in Sunday night’s 37-19 loss to Pittsburgh.
Le’Veon Bell proved to be the toughest running back the Panthers have faced in this short season by rushing 21 times for 147 yards in the win. Teammate LeGarrette Blount joined him in the 100-yard club late in the game and finished with 118 yards.
Bell’s total included an 81-yard run in the third quarter, the longest rush for a Steeler in the past 44 years. He rushed off right guard after Thomas Davis was blocked at the next level of the defense and wouldn’t be caught until Thomas DeCoud tackled him inside the red zone.
Pittsburgh finished with 34 carries and 264 yards rushing, the most Carolina has given up this season. Bell became the first rusher since Buffalo’s C.J. Spiller in Week 2 of last season to go over 100 yards on the ground against Carolina.
Blount later joined him, finishing with 118 yards on 10 carries, including a 50-yard run.
Carolina entered the game allowing 86 rushing yards per game.
Brown makes grabs: Undrafted rookie Philly Brown had the confidence of the coaching staff, and they gave him the start at receiver Sunday night.
Although he shined in his first real action as a receiver, he struggled in his usual punt-return duties.
Brown finished with seven catches for 66 yards, his first career receptions. But Brown fumbled a fourth-quarter punt the Steelers recovered in the end zone to essentially seal the game.
Brown muffed the punt, then recovered the ball only to be stripped of it.
Brown has been the Panthers’ punt and kick returner, but he had yet to log many offensive snaps. With Jerricho Cotchery inactive and Jason Avant recovering from a hamstring injury, Brown got the nod.
Confidence has been Brown’s issue this season. In training camp he muffed several punts and didn’t show sure hands. He didn’t face a problem like that in the regular season until Sunday night.
A dejected Brown walked along the Panthers’ sideline after the fumbled punt. On the ensuing kickoff, he fielded the kick 6 yards deep in the end zone and started to run out before awkwardly taking a knee.
Inactives: The Panthers played without DeAngelo Williams for a second straight game while he continued to nurse a hamstring injury.
Williams injured his hamstring 1 1/2 weeks ago and was limited at Friday’s practice. He missed the Lions game last week.
Joining Williams on the inactive list was Cotchery, who injured his hamstring Thursday and was questionable entering the game against his former team.
Quarterback Joe Webb, safety Tre Boston, running back Fozzy Whittaker, offensive tackle David Foucault and guard Andrew Norwell also were inactive.
• The Panthers wore their blue jerseys for the second and final time. NFL rules state teams can’t wear their alternate uniforms more than twice a season. It’ll be white or black jerseys for the rest of the season.
• Kelvin Benjamin still hasn’t completely shaken his drops issue. He dropped a pass in the first quarter after having three drops last week against Detroit.
• Newton got up slowly after a first-quarter hit right to his midsection. The Panthers had to call a timeout after Newton got up gingerly, but he didn’t miss any plays.
• Panthers fans in the stadium had a difficult time differentiating between linebackers Luke Kuechly and A.J. Klein. When Klein made an opening-drive tackle, the crowd belted out a “Luuuuuuke” chant.
• Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor left the game in the third quarter with what appeared to be a broken forearm on a hit from his teammate Lawrence Timmons on a Benjamin tackle.
• Defensive tackle Kawann Short had a strong early start. He tipped a Ben Roethlisberger pass, blew up a rushing attempt and showed good closing speed on a screen pass.
By the numbers
265 Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount rushed for 265 yards. Bell averaged 7 yards a carry. Normally that would be a big deal. But LeGarrette Blount averaged 11.8. Man weighs 250 pounds, and he spent the evening trying to jump over people.
10 Antonio Brown was targeted 10 times and caught 10 passes, two of them
• “We got beat. We didn’t play a very good football game. You can’t do that against a Pittsburgh Steelers football team.” – Panthers coach Ron Rivera
• “I was not pleased at all. This is a team game, and we’ve got to make sure we’re giving the players an opportunity to succeed.” – Rivera