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|12-17-2006, 09:06 PM||#1|
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Steelers Beat Panthers 37-3 Convincingly On The Road
By Teresa Varley
The Steelers had a convincing win over the Carolina Panthers, defeating them 37-3 with a combination of explosive offensive play, tenacious defense, and strong special teams. The win improves the Steelers record to 7-7.
Running back Willie Parker, who had struggled on the road this season with a 46-yard average, carried the ball 23 times for 132 yards and a 41-yard touchdown.
Ben Roethlisberger completed 10 of 17 passes for 125 yards, with a touchdown pass and running for a score as well.
The defense brought the pressure and sacked quarterback Chris Weinke five times, including one and a half sacks by Brett Keisel. Weinke completed 18 of 28 passes for 170 yards and one interception. Wide receiver Steve Smith was held to five receptions for 56 yards.
The defense also held the Panthers in check on the ground, allowing just 43yards rushing, with DeShaun Foster gaining 42 of those yards on seven carries.
The Steelers special teams have taken heat all season, but did their part in the win. The coverage units were strong, with big hits, and the return game flourished when Santonio Holmes scored on a 65-yard punt return. The Steelers also blocked a punt, which eventually lead to a touchdown.
"I thought we did a lot of really good things today," said head coach Bill Cowher. "I thought we played a very good game today. We were able to take away Steve Smith, and he is the heart and soul of that football team.
"I thought our offense did a good job. We got off to a rough start, but we didn't turn the football over, we didn't have penalties and we didn't beat ourselves. When we do those things we are a pretty good football team."
The Steelers offense started off slow, with the Panthers stopping them for a one-yard loss in their first three drives of the game. The first two drives ended in sacks, one by Chris Gamble on the corner blitz and the second when Michael Rucker came around left tackle for the hit, looking like it would be a long day for Roethlisberger.
But they finally got things going late in the first quarter. Parker had a six-yard gain off right end and on third down Roethlisberger hit Hines Ward for nine yards and a first down. Parker rattled off nine more yards, and it was right back to Ward for an eight-yard gain.
Roethlisberger went for broke to Holmes in the end zone, but it fell incomplete. They got a break, though, when Richard Marshall was called for defensive pass interference on the play, giving the Steelers a first-down at the Panthers 17-yard line. Parker was knocked for a two-yard loss, but the Steelers got it right back and more. Najeh Davenport caught a short pass and turned it into an 18-yard gain to the Panthers one-yard line. Roethlisberger then took it himself for one-yard and the touchdown, his second rushing touchdown of the season.
The Steelers defense, which held the Panthers to three-and-out on two of their first three drives, continued to pressure Weinke and stymie the Panthers offense following the score. James Farrior sacked Weinke for an eight-yard loss and a false start penalty put the Panthers in a hole they couldn't get out of.
Parker tore through the Panthers on the next drive, opening with carries of 21 and 11 yards. The Steelers then pulled a play out of their bag of tricks when Cedrick Wilson took the handoff, then threw it to Ward for a 21-yard gain. Parker had carries of five and nine yards, and on fourth-and-one Roethlisberger took it up the middle for two yards. Roethlisberger went to rookie Santonio Holmes, who fought his way to the end zone. But Carolina challenged the call, and it was ruled Holmes elbow was down before the ball crossed the goal line, taking away the score. Jeff Reed came on for a 19-yard field goal, giving the Steelers a 10-0 lead.
With the offense and defense playing so well, it was just a matter of time before special teams made their impact. After a three-and-out, the Panthers were forced to punt, and James Harrison blocked Jason Baker's attempt and Ike Taylor recovered and returned it two yards to the Panthers 10-yard line.
Parker had a two-yard gain, but Al Wallace sacked Roethlisberger for a five-yard loss. Roethlisberger went to Davenport on the screen pass and he followed the blocking of Alan Faneca into the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown, giving the Steelers a 17-0 lead.
The Panthers added a John Kasay field goal near the end of the half, to give the Steelers a 17-3 lead going into the locker room.
The Steelers came out in the second half and stopped the Panthers on their opening drive, but added to their lead with their first drive when Reed hit his second field goal of the day.
After a quick three-and-out by the Panthers, the Steelers went back to work. Nate Washington had a nice 14-yard reception for a first down before the Steelers went to the ground. Parker had two short carries, before he burst through a hole created by Heath Miller and Faneca and broke free for a 41-yard touchdown run, to extend the Steelers lead to 27-3.
The defense came up with another big stop, but it looked like the Panthers were going to finally get a break when Holmes muffed the punt and the Panthers recovered. But it was the Steelers who were getting the break as the Panthers were called for illegal procedure. The Panthers were forced to kick again and this time Holmes made them pay for the mistake, returning it 65 yards for a touchdown, giving the Steelers a 34-3 lead.
Anthony Smith closed the door on the Panthers when he intercepted Weinke. The offense came back on the field, with Charlie Batch at quarterback and Parker and Ward also on the sidelines resting. Reed added his third field goal of the game, to give the Steelers a 37-3 lead which would hold as a final.
TD Ben Roethlisberger, 1 Yd run (Jeff Reed kick is good), 14:55. Drive: 9 plays, 63 yards in 3:13.
FG Jeff Reed 19 Yd, 4:25. Drive: 13 plays, 84 yards in 5:47.
TD Najeh Davenport, 13 Yd pass from Ben Roethlisberger (Jeff Reed kick is good), 1:54. Drive: 3 plays, 10 yards in 1:01.
FG John Kasay 37 Yd, 0:04. Drive: 8 plays, 52 yards in 1:50.
FG Jeff Reed 45 Yd, 4:40. Drive: 12 plays, 63 yards in 7:49.
TD Willie Parker, 41 Yd run (Jeff Reed kick is good), 0:13. Drive: 7 plays, 67 yards in 3:56.
TD Santonio Holmes, 65 Yd punt return (Jeff Reed kick is good), 14:27.
FG Jeff Reed 26 Yd, 4:01. Drive: 13 plays, 32 yards in 9:20.
786 Ways To Score Touchdowns
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