By Matthew Marczi
The Pittsburgh Steelers close their preseason slate against the Carolina Panthers tonight. Below is a recap of the action in the second half.
The Steelers received the ball at halftime, with the same starters that closed out the first half—Kelvin Beachum at center, Joe Long at left tackle, etc. Felix Jones carried for six yards on first down, and got first down yardage on the second carry. Some second effort on his third consecutive carry helped eke out a five-yard gain. Landry Jones looked deep for Markus Wheaton on second down, but both he and the corner looked for a pass interference penalty as they got tangled up. Michael Palmer caught his second pass (on his second target) right at the sticks for the first down, however.
Once again, Jones was able to pick up an extra yard or two by displaying second-effort willingness. On third and four, Palmer was unable to bring in the pass at the sticks after failing to get separation from his coverage. Drew Butler continued to punt, which was caught for a fair catch just inside the 20-yard line.
The defensive personnel that finished off the first half also began the second half. Shamarko Thomas in the slot. Chris Carter finally registered a pressure for the first time in the preseason, getting a sack to force third and 14. A miscommunication on third down forced a punt. Reggie Dunn did not appear to cleanly field the ensuing punt, and returned it for just a few yards.
He got another chance on offense on an end-around, however, and had a nice run. On second down, Felix Jones got the first down, and then on the next play, he helped his quarterback under duress by fielding a dump off for a positive gain. On second down, the offensive line allowed penetration to blow up a play in the backfield, and Wheaton was unable to hold on to a bit of a high pass for a first down on third and seven.
Brian Moorman’s punt was under-kicked, but it bounced off a Carolina Panther, and the Steelers recovered at the 17. Felix Jones was a nice safety valve on the first play for four yards, then made a cut for another four-yard gain on a carry on the next play. On third down, Jones was looking for Derek Moye, but the Panthers defender undercut the route on a pass that should not have been thrown. It would have gone for a pick-six, however, had Moye not run the corner down all the way at the 22.
Alan Baxter nearly got a sack, and very well might have were he not held on third down. Carter pursued and knocked the ball loose anyway, which was nearly recovered inbounds. Nice job by the defense to limit the damage to a field goal after the turnover.
Joe Madsen and Mike Golic, Jr. got their first reps on offense this preseason, with Whimper moving back to right tackle. On second down, Landry Jones was picked off once again down the field with no Steeler in sight. It appears it was an overthrow of Michael Palmer, who limped off the field. He may have had his knee fallen on.
Terence Garvin came in on defense at right outside linebacker. Isaiah Green was beaten for a first down near the five-yard line to set up first and goal. Vince Williams made a nice play on a shoestring tackle on what otherwise might have been a touchdown. On second down, Jimmy Clausen tripped after Al Woods pushed the right guard back, who stepped on his foot. He fumbled, but the back recovered. The third down pass was incomplete, and the Panthers settled for another field goal to bring the score to 23-10.
After a quick three-and-out, including a sack on third down, the defense was once again right back out on the field. Alan Baxter was able to get pressure on third down to force a dump off pass that was not enough to convert, forcing a punt. Reggie Dunn fielded the punt inside the five and tried to cut it back, dipping into the end zone, but he was tackled for a safety, virtually ending any chance he had of making the roster.
The defense quickly got the ball back against, however, with the absolute bottom of the roster in the game: Dunn and Kashif Moore at wide receiver, Alvester Alexander at running back, Nathan Overbay at tight end, etc. Jones looked for Alexander on third down, but he could not make the over the shoulder catch, forcing a punt.
The defense forced yet another three-and-out, and on first down, Jones found Palmer for about nine yards. Alvester Alexander was stopped for a loss on second down. Kashif Moore took a short pass over the middle for a nice gain close to midfield on third down. Palmer was good for another first down, but on the next play, Reggie Dunn fell down on a route, and the defender was able to make an easy interception. A couple of kneeldowns ended the game with the score of 25-10, and the Steelers go winless through the preseason heading into week one. Did they get the answers they were looking for?