The Pittsburgh Steelers trail the Carolina Panthers by a score of 3-0, the “first-team” defense allowing a field goal drive on the opening possession, but holding firm for the rest of the first half. The Steelers will receive after deferring to halftime.
Dayonne Nunley took a knee in the end zone to give Landry Jones and the Steelers the ball at the 20-yard line. On first down, Jones found Darrius Heyward-Bey at the right sideline for seven yards. On second and three, Josh Harris pushed forward for one yard to set up third and two. Jones hit Derek Moye crossing the field for the first down after an 11-yard pickup.
Harris found a bit of room past the line of scrimmage, but got hit hard and went down in a hurry after a short gain, running high for five yards. On second down, Harris bowled into the line for another two yards. The third and three play went to the air, finding Heyward-Bey for the first down.
Harris found the left edge but only picked up a yard. On second and long, Jones could not connect with Michael Palmer for the first down. Now third and nine, Jones fired quickly to Moye, but the Panthers defense closed quickly after just a short gain to force yet another Brad Wing punt, which was fair caught at about the 10-yard line from the 41.
Isaiah Green was flagged on first down for pass interference at about the 20-yard line, even though both players were contacting one another. Joe Webb completed for 10 yards for another first down to the 30-yard line.
Daniel McCullers swallowed Fozzy Whittaker. McCullers is playing better than he has the past two games. Vince Williams was waiting to tackle the catch after a short gain to set up third and five. Arthur Moats brought pressure, but Webb completed in front of Nunley across the middle for a first down.
The Panthers got a receiver behind Antwon Blake and Robert Golden for a long gain over 50 yards to set up first and goal. Whittaker took it into the end zone on the following play for the touchdown, making it 10-o.
Brendon Kay took over for Jones after the opening drive of the second half, his first action of the preseason.
For the second time in the game, Lanear Sampson took a kick out of the end zone and did not reach the 20-yard line.
Kay’s first pass was deep to Heyward-Bey. The pass was underthrown, and the receiver could have been flagged. Stephen Houston got his first action of the game, going up the middle for about four yards. On third and six, Kay found Sampson for the first down across the 30.
Feeling the pressure, Kay scrambled on first down, sliding for four yards. On second and six, he reeled in the high snap, handing off to Houston, who ran up the gut for four more yards to set up third and two. Houston found the hole and tore through it, gaining about ten yards before being tripped up near midfield.
Kay ran a bootleg and threw low to Rob Blanchflower, who picked it up off the ground for a five-yard gain. Houston got knocked down by an unblocked defender for a four-yard loss to make it third and nine. The pressure on third down merited a sack, forcing yet another punt.
Just as it seemed Wing was stabilizing, he put down a bad one, reaching just the 35-yard line.
Another bad snap, but a penalty made it first and 15 anyway. Dan Molls came up the middle on first down to up-end the running back for no gain. On second and 15, the defensive line yielded just a couple yards to close the third quarter.
Nick Williams is in the game in the nickel defense along with Josh Mauro as the down linemen. Carter overpursued, allowing Webb to escape, and had to chase him down, but he did make the play before a first down.
Archer fielded the punt and seemed like he might have room to the left after a cutback, but the Panthers closed in quickly. Still no sparks from the 4.2 guy on special teams.
Taking over from the 11, Kay got the pass off under pressure to Harris, who picked up a yard or two. On second and long, Kay threw high and was nearly intercepted off the hands of the receiver. The Panthers challenged the ruling of an incompletion. The ruling on the field stood due to inconclusive evidence. Kay and Harris pulled off the draw, which fooled the camera crew and resulted in a big gain down to the 44.
Kay scrambled and made a defender miss for a first down, but a holding call brought the play back. He held on to the ball too long on second down and was chased down by a defender after two yards. On second and 18, the draw to Harris gained nothing. The right guard was flagged for holding again, but it was declined to set up third down. Kay’s pass was overthrown.
I contend that the coaching staff conspired to make this game all about Wing, who has punted at the end of every Steelers possession throughout the entire game so far. No scores, no turnovers. At least he got off a better punt this time.
After an illegal formation penalty, Carter made a good tackle in the running game. On second and long, however, Whittaker found a hole up the middle on the right side of the defense. Williams was down the field to help make the tackle.
Williams got in the backfield for a tackle for loss after the first down. Garvin made the stop on second down. On third and seven, pressure forced an early throw. The receiver made the catch, but was out of bounds, forcing a punt.
Kay hit Heyward-Bey for six yards on first down, but was planted on a blindside blitz for a big loss. Kay looked for Paulson down the field, but could only get one hand on it. After a 45-yard Wing punt, Ross Ventrone made the special teams tackle for a loss. Nice play.
Another tackle by Molls set up second and seven for the Panthers. Whittaker off the left side gained two yards. On third down, Whittaker somehow plowed ahead through the left side of the defense for several yards and a first down.
After a seven-yard gain, Shamarko Thomas knifed in to make a tackle in the backfield for a loss of four yards. On third and seven, however, a roll out pass resulted in another first down at the 26-yard line.
Thomas came in from behind the line to make the tackle after a one-yard gain, bringing us to the two-minute warning.
Two carried netted four yards for the Panthers, and the Steelers used their timeouts to give their offense one last chance to make a dent in the scoreboard. After the missed field goal, Kay has 1:45 left with one timeout with the ball on the 30-yard line.
A short pass to Harris out of bounds after a seven-yard gain got the drive started. On second down, Kay was sacked, not feeling the pressure from the right side. Now third and 10, Kay fled the pocket and threw the ball in the dirt. One last punt for Wing. Another good punt, and a couple knees ended the game.