Panthers crush Steelers in preseason finale

Written By Anthony Cugini, For The Globe

The Carolina Panthers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 34 to 9 in the final game of the NFL preseason. The Steelers, who were resting most if not all of their starters, struggled from the beginning. Newly acquired quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, was given the chance to earn the back up spot behind Roethlisberger. Haskins completed 9 of 16 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. Haskins also threw an interception to Panthers defensive end Brian Burns.

On the other hand, Panthers QB Sam Darnold, excelled against the Pittsburgh back ups, completing 19 of 25 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Steelers defensive backs Justin Layne and James Pierre both had trouble containing the Panthers’ passing game as they battled for the third-string cornerback spot.

Having played an extra preseason game, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin decided to sit all but four starters while most of the Carolina starters saw some gametime. Players like DJ Moore and Robby Anderson were able to easily dismantle the Pittsburgh defense.

“Our backups were smothered by most of the Panthers starting offense and our offense couldn’t generate anything at all,” said Marco Lau, who is a lifetime Steelers fan.

The Panthers scored their first touchdown of the game in the second quarter thanks to a Sam Darnold 13-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Marshall Jr. Marshall was a second round draft pick out of LSU in this year’s draft. Thanks to a strong preseason, Marshall will most likely see plenty of gametime this year in Carolina. Carolina struck once more before the half with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson from Sam Darnold.

Though the Steelers’ defense struggled, there are many positives to take out of the preseason as a whole. Najee Harris, who sat out against Carolina, put up a very solid preseason. Although he only rushed for 42 yards in total, Harris showed off his elusiveness and agility throughout the three games he appeared in.

Mason Rudolph also performed well throwing for 299 yards while completing 27 of 36 passes. Though Rudolph failed to throw a touchdown, it will be hard for Tomlin to name Haskins the back up over Rudolph.

The Steelers look to week one of the NFL season where they will play the Buffalo Bills in a marquee matchup. The Bills are coming off of a year where they went 13-3 but fell short in the AFC championship game to the Chiefs. It will be interesting to see how a new look Steelers secondary is able to handle a quarterback of Josh Allen’s caliber.

The Steelers’ offense is in question as well. Pittsburgh switched out previous offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner for former quarterbacks coach Matt Canada. The Steelers will most likely run significantly more than they did last season thanks to the acquisition of Najee Harris. Though they may be forced to run less if the new-look offensive line struggles. There are a lot of things to both look forward to and to be concerned about as the Steelers head into the 2021-2022 NFL season.