The Pittsburgh Steelers are likely very glad that the preseason is over. They finished their slate with their fourth loss in five games, dropping a 23-6 decision to the Carolina Panthers at Heinz Field on Thursday night.
At least the Steelers were able to escape from the game relatively healthy after losing several players to injury this preseason. Reserve offensive linemen Kevin Palmer and B.J. Finney both left the game late and did not return.
Very few starters participated for either time, with only strong safety Shamarko Thomas and linebacker Arthur Moats seeing the field for the Steelers.
A week after the Steelers defense was gashed by the Buffalo Bills, it was the offense that struggled to gain any traction against Carolina.
Michael Vick go the start at quarterback, and was able to move the ball on the first drive of the game, hooking up with Martavis Bryant for a 34-yard pass on the second play of the game.
The drive would bog down, and Jordan Berry, in a battle with incumbent Brad Wing for the team’s punting duties, pinned the Panthers back at the 11 with a 48-yard kick.
Vick would then fail to gain much traction on the next five drives and finished the night 3-for-5 for 24 yards. He was sacked three times.
The Panthers would break through the Steelers defense in the middle of the second quarter, mostly on the ground. Rookie Brandon Wegher started the drive off with a 15-yard scamper around right end. Five plays later, on a 3rd-and-10, Jordan Todman took off up the middle on a 49-yard draw to find the endzone for the first time on the night.
Before the half, Carolina would strike again with Joe Webb under center. Running the two-minute offense, Webb completed 8-of-9 passes on that drive including a 23-yard touchdown to Markus Lukas with nine seconds left on the first half clock.
In the second half, neither team would drive the ball with much authority. Webb finished the evening with 17 completions on 22 attempts for 193 yards. Landry Jones, who came in at quarterback for the Steelers in the second half, completed 9-of-11 for 147 yards.
The teams traded a pair of second-half field goals, with Josh Scobee converting both of his attempts in his Steelers and Heinz Field debut.
The Steelers will get to work tomorrow in preparation for the next game in New England against the Patriots next Thursday in the NFL’s season opener.
Before they get there, they will have to cut down their roster from 75 players to 53 on Saturday.