The first thing we notice is that the Steelers are wearing their home blacks on a steamy night in Carolina. Not really sure what the reasoning was for Carolina to opt to wear whites at home...maybe they realized that wearing teal makes them look like they're covered in baby poop?
The Steelers win the toss and elect to receive.
Jeff Verszyla drops the word "tertiary" in his pregame sideline report, proving once again why he's the best of KDKA's announcing crew. He should do the play-by-play and color commentary.
Mendenhall joins Ben in the "You're too valuable to risk injury so you get to sit on the bench for this one," so it's the Isaac Redman show to start things off. Redman bounces a screen pass away from danger by using a Mendenhall-esque spin move. Manny Sanders gets his first catch of the preseason on the Arians patented WR screen. Aranz Battle makes a big grab on 3rd down to move the sticks and keep things alive. After Redman plows for another first down, Homestead Charlie keeps gunslinging, hitting David Johnson to get inside the 30. After Redman grinds out another first down, Batch hits Wallace on a crossing route and he tries to split two defenders at the goal line but the ball gets knocked out. David Johnson is Johnny-on-the-spot and falls on the ball in the end zone for the touchdown.
What a drive by Homestead Charlie. His only incompletion was a deep ball to Wallace that he overthrew.
The Panthers get a boost on their first drive after Ziggy gets flagged for a personal foul, but KDKA's broadcast sucks so they don't have a shot of what happened. Larry Foote almost comes up with a sack of Cam Newton but he just gets a pass away before his knee hits the turf. On the next play, Cam uses his legs and picks up a 3rd and 10 on the scramble. He barely looked downfield before he took off. A few plays later, Newton hits Jeramy Shockey inside the 5. Ryan Mundy falls down and Shockey is able to scoot into the end zone easily.
The Steelers next drive stalls out after a 3rd down hold on Trai Essex. Crezdon Butler lays a huge lick on the punt return. Good to see Crezdon stepping up on Special Teams. We're going to need him there this year.
Derek "One Hit Wonder" Anderson comes in to replace Newton. Anderson goes to work hitting Armanti Edwards twice to get across midfield, but the Steelers defense locks it down, forcing a 4th and 3. Rather than letting the quarter run out, Anderson snaps the ball with 8 seconds left and his pass bounces off Edwards' chest.
Dennis Dixon comes out to start the second quarter. Arians sticks with the passing game and Dixon overthrows Brown, underthrows Brown, then overthrows Battle. Kapinos booms a punt that is bobbled inside the 5 and the returner barely makes it out of the end zone as the coverage swarms him.
Carolina keeps it on the ground and is able to run their way out from under their own goalposts against the Steelers 3rd team defense. They finally force a 3rd down and Donovan Warren comes up with a big-time pass breakup to force the punt. Warren has had a really good preseason so far. He'd definitely been one of the most impressive guys in the secondary. Sadly the roster math probably won't work in his favor.
After calling 11 passes and 5 runs, Arians goes to the ground and Jonathan Dwyer picks up a first down. Two plays later, Dwyer busts through a huge hole on the right side, makes a move and takes it to the HOUSE.
On the first play, DA hits Mike Goodson on a screen and he rumbles downfield before being brought down by Curtis Brown. Three plays later DA goes downtown on 3rd and long and hits some clown who blew past Crezdon Butler on a fly route. Wait, the guy's name was actually Clowney? Okay...
Mewelde Moore catches a seam on a short kickoff and takes it all the way back to the 40. Dixon completes his first pass of the game, hitting Manny Sanders on a slant route to move the sticks. Dixon can't muster much more and Suisham comes out and absolutely drills a 52-yarder.
Carolina's offense is pretty much Mike Goodson and no one else. Jason Worlids gets his first sack of the preseason. Good to seem him getting on track.
Dixon comes out to run the two minute drill and hits Battle twice to get close to midfield. After a timeout, Dixon hits Manny Sanders on the sideline who makes a move and darts down the sideline to get all the way inside the 20 before he is horse-collar tackled, but no flag is thrown. Another completion to Battle gets us into a short-yardage situation, but Dwyer is swallowed up and Suisham hits a short field goal.
Curtis Brown sets the tone, getting his hand in and breaking up a pass then making a tackle on a cut-back run. Derek Anderson decides to test Brown deep and throws one up. Brandon LaFell out-jumps Brown and comes up with the grab inside the 5. Brown makes up for it, breaking up a slant route on 2nd and goal then Donovan Warren makes a big tackle on a short pass to hold the Panthers ot 3.
Jonathan Dwyer goes back to work, picking up a first down and getting horse-collar tackled (which is called this time) which tacks 15 more on top. Dixon looks a lot more poised in the pocket, hitting Tyler Grisham on a crossing route to convert a 3rd and 5 at midfield. After a holding penalty puts us in 3rd and 17, Dixon goes downtown for Wes Lyons in double coverage who makes a great over-the-shoulder catch against two defenders. What a grab by the kid from Woodland Hills and WVU. The Steelers stall out inside the 10.
Jimmy "Santa" Clausen comes in and on his first pass tries to test rookie Cortez Allen, who is playing in his first game. Allen tips the ball away and right into the hands of safety Will Allen, who returns it across midfield.
Jonathan Dwyer has definitely improved over last year. He makes another good looking run to get close to 90 yards on the night. Dixon looks better and better as the game goes on, standing in under pressure and completing passes. He hits Weslye Saunders, who I would rather see as the #3 TE than John Gilmore (who has really shown me nothing this preseason), for a first down.
KDKA channels their inner ROOT Sports and miss the first play of the quarter. Dixon threw it away, forcing a long field goal.
That's a 52 and 53-yarder Steelers kickers hit tonight. WOW.
Santa Clausen gives us another gift as McLendon gets pressure and Da'mon Cromartie-Smith rings up the sack. The gifts just keep on coming as the Panthers center fumbles a shotgun snap and the Steelers fall on it.
Dixon comes out going deeper into the playbook, going play action and hitting Weslye Saunders across the middle off a bootleg.
Please put Weslye on the team. He deserves to make it at this point.
Saunders comes out and makes the tackle on special teams, making his case for a roster spot even better. Coaches love to see these fringe roster guys show up on Special Teams, that's how you play your way onto the team.
After a holding penalty, Clausen finally completes a pass. However, he's still in the giving mood and Steve McLendon rings up a big sack after blowing through the O-line. On 3rd down, Santa throws it right to Cortez Allen, but he can't make the diving pick.
The Steelers go to the ground-and-pound game to run out the clock and John Clay, a practice squad candidate, rips off some solid runs. Dixon can't hit Grisham on 3rd down and the Steelers punt. Jonathan Dwyer makes a tackle. Go re-read what I said 2 paragraphs ago about Saunders. Same thing applies. Dwyer is making the team.
The Panthers get a gift on a "QB contact" call when Santa's shirt gets brushed, which is pretty much a preview of how every game will go once James Harrison starts playing full time. The Panthers get down inside the 20, but Clausen throws a pass to no one on 3rd down and gets sacked by Mortty Ivy on fourth down turning the ball over once again.
John Clay shows some Bettis-esque moves with some quick feet for a big guy, but a holding penalty sets things back. Dixon gets sacked on 3rd down, bringing out the punt team.
For anyone who questioned why the Panthers took Cam Newton with the #1 pick, I think watching Jimmy Clausen play should pretty much end the discussion. He looked flat out terrible. The Panthers rode a few penalties into the red zone again and went for it on 4th down, with Donovan Warren breaking up a pass in the end zone.
Players of the Game
Offensive Game Ball: Jonathan Dwyer
Defensive Game Ball: Steve McLendon
Offensive MVP: Antonio Brown
Defensive MVP: Ryan Mundy
Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game
Having to cut players
There were a lot of guys that looked really good tonight, and it's a shame we're going to have to cut some of them. By my best calculations, there were 6 guys fighting for 2 roster spots tonight. Jonathan Dwyer clearly played his way onto the team tonight (and Weslye Saunders may have too, at the expense of John Gilmore). However, the last spot still might be up for grabs and will depend on what the Steelers decide to do with Byron Leftwich.
- Good to get out of this game with no injuries. First and foremost, that was the most important.
- After a bad first drive, Dixon really came on and played a good game.
- Great game for Jonathan Dwyer, probably the best of his career. He's getting a helmet on Sundays.
- Weslye Saunders has looked a LOT better than John Gilmore this preseason. Saunders deserves a spot on the team as the #3 TE.
- Good to see Jason Worlids get over the hump and get a sack tonight. We're going to need him to spell Harrison if James needs a breather.
- Curtis Brown is going to be a hell of a defensive back. He's shown some flashes so far in preseason and you can tell. He has a quick jump on the ball in tight coverage.
- Cortez Allen looked decent in the limited time he saw. He'll make the roster and get plenty of time to get healthy.
- Steve McLendon had a really good preseason. It's going to be tough to pick between him and Chris Hoke for the backup NT. My gut says they'll take Hoke and hope McLendon can be picked up for the practice squad.
- We got out of the preseason mostly healthy, with Leftwich's injury clearly the worst, as Ike will be back for the start of the season. Hopefully Pouncey's ankle is in shape in 10 days when we hit Baltimore.
- 10 days until Baltimore. Get your head on straight. Here we go.