Two of the league’s hottest teams faced each other in Pittsburgh on Thursday night to begin the Week 10 action but this game that was expected to be an all-out brawl turned into a one-sided battle. The Panthers put together a strong opening drive, led by RB Christian McCaffrey who also capped off the possession with a 20-yard catch and run for the touchdown. Pittsburgh answered with an even more impressive drive … or should I say play. QB Ben Roethlisberger’s first pass of the game went to WR Juju Smith-Schuster who outran the defense for a 75-yard score on Pittsburgh’s first offensive snap. The Pittsburgh defense shortly joined in, picking off QB Cam Newton and returning it for six and a 14-7 lead. The Steelers would score again, this time on a short run from RB James Conner before the first-quarter ended and led 21-7. The game was practically over at that point.
Big Ben ended with another huge night, throwing for 328 yards and five touchdowns and he even sat out most of the fourth quarter after his team built a comfortable lead. Conner totaled 73 yards but was forced to leave the game early to be checked for a concussion. Results of the tests are not yet known as Conner’s night was likely done regardless.
The Steelers got everyone involved as Roethlisberger hit five different pass-catchers for scores on top of Conner’s rushing touchdown. Smith-Schuster was fairly quiet after his huge opening play, finishing with three receptions for 90 yards. WR Antonio Brown stayed hot, catching a touchdown for the seventh consecutive game and eighth time in nine games this year. He caught all six passes for 96 yards, most of that coming on a beautiful 53-yard score when Roethlisberger hit Brown in stride and he cruised into the box for six. The Panthers have been terrible against tight ends all season, so it should be no surprise that both Vance McDonald (4/44/1) and Jesse James (1/8/1) scored on them.
The Panthers wideouts were shut down by the improving Steelers defense. WR Devin Funchess caught three passes for 32 scoreless yards while rookie WR D.J. Moore hauled in four passes for 40 yards. QB Cam Newton threw just 25 passes despite trailing for nearly the entire game as the Panthers struggled to keep drives alive, converting four of 11 third-down plays.
The Steelers dominated from the start and even after taking the foot off the gas and inserting backups for much of the final period, still came away with a 52-21 victory over the visiting Panthers.
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The Saints placed WR Cameron Meredith (knee) on the injured reserve list. This makes the addition of veteran WR Dez Bryant even more understandable and ends a disappointing season for Meredith. After missing the entire 2017 season, the Bears let Meredith walk and he landed in the ideal spot for a receiver. Dealing with injuries and a crowded depth chart, Meredith never got going, finishing the season with just nine receptions.
Patriots RB Rex Burkhead, on the injured reserve with a neck injury, returned to practice. This means the Pats have pegged Burkhead as one of their two players who are eligible to return from the IR this season. Burkhead can now return for New England’s Week 13 game and will join a backfield committee including RBs Sony Michel and James White.
NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported prior to the Steelers game last night that holdout RB Le’Veon Bell is in Pittsburgh, with the assumption being that Bell plans to report to the team prior to next Tuesday’s deadline. There have been so many twists and turns to this story that we’ll just have to see how it plays out but we’ll obviously know a lot more by early next week.
Eagles veteran RB Darren Sproles had been expected to return to the field this week but he aggravated his hamstring injury and will continue to sit out. He hasn’t played since Week One. … Jets WR Robby Anderson (ankle) missed practice but is still expected to play this week. … Packers TE Jimmy Graham returned to practice and is all set for Week 10. … Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins (foot) missed another practice and seems to be a longshot to play this weekend. He has a history of foot issues and this could be a real concern. … Redskins RB Chris Thompson (ribs) has been ruled out for Week 10. It’s another reminder that Thompson is struggling through a lost season. … Bears WR Allen Robinson, who has missed two games with a groin injury, declared himself 100% and should play this week…Jets WR Quincy Enunwa (ankle) missed another practice and is iffy for Week 10. … Titans WRs Tajae Sharpe and Taywan Taylor both missed Thursday’s practice. … 49ers WR Pierre Garcon (knee) missed practice, though he’s still expected to play against the Giants. … A large number of players managed a limited practice on Thursday. Among them were: WR Mike Evans (knee), RB Chris Ivory (shoulder), RB Giovani Bernard (knee), TE C.J. Uzomah (shoulder), WR Mohamed Sanu (hip), QB Josh Allen (elbow), WR Kenny Stills (groin), TE George Kittle (chest), WR Randall Cobb (hamstring), RB Marlon Mack (foot), WR Ryan Grant (ankle), RB LeGarrette Blount (knee), RB Kerryon Johnson (ankle), TE Rob Gronkowski (ankle/back), RB Sony Michel (knee), WR Julian Edelman (ankle), WR Jamison Crowder (ankle), RB Peyton Barber (ankle), TE Jordan Reed (back), RB Doug Martin (hip), TE David Njoku (ribs/knee).
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