Stars Sit It Out as Panthers Topple Steelers 10-0
PITTSBURGH – Fozzy Whittaker ran for a 2-yard touchdown, Graham Gano added a short field goal and the Carolina Panthers beat the listless Pittsburgh Steelers 10-0 in the preseason finale Thursday night.
The Panthers (2-2) held the Steelers (1-3) to just 185 total yards.
Both teams sat their star players with just 10 days to go before the regular season begins.
Carolina backup quarterback Derek Anderson led the Panthers to a field goal drive to start the game. Anderson arrived in Pittsburgh overnight after he and his wife welcomed their first child. Whittaker rushed for 91 yards in a game even more vanilla than usual. The teams meet again in Carolina on Sept. 24.
Steelers third-string quarterback Landry Jones started, but did little to assure himself of a roster spot when the rosters are trimmed to 53 players.
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spent the night on the sideline with a towel around his shoulders. Carolina’s Cam Newton and his dinged-up ribs did likewise. Newton said earlier in the week there’s “no doubt” he’ll be ready when the Panthers head to Tampa Bay on Sept. 7.
Pittsburgh’s first-string defense can’t exactly say the same. Coach Mike Tomlin sent all the healthy names atop the depth chart onto the field to start the game, including defensive end Brett Keisel, who re-signed with Pittsburgh last week. Tomlin wanted to see if Keisel could “swim in the deep end of the pool.”
While Keisel looked spry for a player who turns 36 in a few weeks, the first unit allowed points for the fourth consecutive week.
Steelers running backs Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount – a week removed from being cited on marijuana possession – started the game on the bench but played sparingly in the first half. The team plans to discipline both players, but Tomlin stressed he would not reveal the punishment.
Either way, Bell and Blount will be heavily involved this fall. The circumstances required for Landry Jones to see playing time the rest of 2014 are probably too farfetched to even ponder, but the former Oklahoma star didn’t exactly produce a compelling argument for the Steelers to keep three quarterbacks on the active roster behind Roethlisberger and backup Bruce Gradkowski.
Jones was nearly sacked for a safety on his second series of work and did little more than dump the ball off when given time to throw. He completed 14 of 18 passes for 97 yards and never managed to get the Steelers within field-goal range before giving way to rookie Brendon Kay.
Bengals 35, Colts 7
CINCINNATI (AP) – Rookie Jeremy Hill ran for 90 yards and was Cincinnati’s top receiver as well, leading the Bengals to a 35-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in a game devoid of starters.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck sat it out, as did most of the starters for both teams. Dalton didn’t even pull up his black socks, leaving them around his ankles on an 85-degree evening – he knew there was no point.
Cincinnati (2-2) pulled off several big plays in the second half against the Colts (0-4) backups.
Ravens 22, Saints 13
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Justin Tucker hit five field goals and the Baltimore Ravens wrapped up a perfect preseason with a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Baltimore (4-0) found the end zone only once on Tyrod Taylor’s 8-yard pass to Deonte Thompson, but that was enough against the Saints (3-1), who struggled to score while quarterback Drew Brees got the night off.
Giants 16, Patriots 13
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – Josh Brown kicked a 37-yard field goal with 38 seconds to play and the New York Giants capped their first undefeated preseason since 2006 with a 16-13 victory over the New England Patriots.
The win was a gift from Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who went for a first down with a fourth-and-1 from his 39 with less than three minutes to play and the score tied.
Broncos 27, Cowboys 3
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Brock Osweiler led four scoring drives in the final tuneup for his third season as Peyton Manning’s backup, and the Denver Broncos beat Dallas 27-3.
The loss gave the Cowboys their fifth winless preseason in franchise history.
With Manning and Dallas’ Tony Romo watching in uniform from the sidelines, Osweiler played an efficient three quarters, directing three possessions that ended in rushing touchdowns.
Redskins 24, Buccaneers 10
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Colt McCoy threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Washington Redskins to a 24-10 preseason-ending victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With coach Jay Gruden resting both Robert Griffin III and backup quarterback Kirk Cousins, McCoy played the entire game for the Redskins (3-1). He completed 22 of 29 passes while also throwing a pair of end-zone interceptions.
Vikings 19, Titans 3
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Teddy Bridgewater threw a touchdown in his first NFL start, Joe Banyard ran for 111 yards and the Minnesota Vikings wrapped up a perfect preseason beating the Tennessee Titans 19-3.
Blair Walsh kicked four field goals, and the Vikings defense had three sacks in a game where both coaches protected their starters by keeping them safely on the sidelines.
Packers 34, Chiefs 14
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) – Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien each threw for two touchdowns in their competition to back up starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas Chiefs 34-14.
Flynn threw for 102 yards and Tolzien had 139 in splitting reps by quarter in the evening’s most closely watched position battle. Coach Mike McCarthy could keep both players anyway a season after Rodgers missed seven weeks with a collarbone injury.