The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Carolina Panthers, 19-16, Thursday night at Heinz Field, in Pittsburgh. Coach John Fox cautiously did not play any of his starters, and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin played his for only the first two series, in both team’s last exhibition game. Still, the Panthers managed to lose valued backup quarterback Matt Moore late in the third quarter. Moore took a low hit from safety Anthony Smith, and looked to have bent his left leg back awkwardly. He reportedly has a contusion, or deep shin bruise, and x-rays were negative. This might be good news for Carolina, as they did not mention any injury to his knee; however he will undergo further tests in Charlotte.
Pittsburgh was conservative with Ben Roethlisberger’s play, as he attempted no throws; he did, however, practice their no-huddle offense, although a botched snap from former Panther center Justin Hartwig had the quarterback scrambling back to the 4 to recover it. New addition Byron Leftwich went 6-for-14 for 82 yards, filling in for stalwart backup Charlie Batch, who is suffering with a broken collarbone. Former Oregon Duck Dennis Dixon went 5-for-9 for 42 yards, and had a great eleven yard run to set up kicker Jeff Reed’s game-winning field goal.
Carolina third-string backup Brett Basanez had his own 4-yard rush up the middle, during the Panthers’ only touchdown drive of the contest; on the next play, Basanez completed a 29-yard pass to Chris Hannon for the TD, with around two minutes left. Coach Fox was somewhat unconventional, in that he went for the tying extra point instead of a two point conversion to win the game.
Rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall played well for Pittsburgh, even with committing his fourth fumble of the preseason. Receiver Dwayne Jarrett of the Panthers looks to be finally stepping up, and not a moment too soon, with their receiving corps being racked with injuries.
Carolina’s backups proved not much of a match for their opponents; and unfortunately, this has been a trend throughout the preseason.