High-flying Steelers in the NFL’s fast lane
Roethlisberger tosses five touchdowns in romp
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t playing like a team missing Le’Veon Bell.
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 328 yards and five touchdowns, James Conner ran for 65 yards and a score before leaving late with a possible concussion and the Steelers pounded the Carolina Panthers 52-21 Thursday night for their fifth straight victory.
Antonio Brown added eight receptions for 96 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown in the second quarter, to cap an eventful day that began with the star wide receiver being cited for reckless driving after police clocked Brown’s Porsche driving over 100 m.p.h. down a busy highway in the suburbs.
While Bell — a three-time Pro Bowl running back who still hasn’t signed his one-year franchise tender — tweeted his thoughts as he watched on television, the Steelers (6-2-1) rolled on without him. Bell has until Tuesday to sign a contract if he wants to play this season. The Panthers (6-3) saw their three-game winning streak come to an abrupt halt in a city where they’ve never won. Carolina fell to 0-4 all-time in Pittsburgh and was never really in it after the Steelers scored 21 points in the game’s first 11 minutes.
Cam Newton completed 23 of 29 passes for 193 yards. Running back Christian McCaffrey converted a pair of those into scores, but Newton’s showdown with Roethlisberger never materialized. The Steelers sacked Newton five times and rarely let him get comfortable. JETS’ DARNOLD SIDELINED
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Josh McCown is going from mentor to starter this week for the New York Jets.
The 39-year-old quarterback will be under centre Sunday against the Buffalo Bills in place of injured rookie Sam Darnold, who’s sidelined with a strained right foot.
“I’m ready to rule him out as a starter for this week,” coach Todd Bowles said of Darnold Thursday. “I don’t know if I’ll rule him out yet for the game.”
That means Darnold still could potentially be the No. 2 quarterback Sunday. If not, Davis Webb would be promoted from the practice squad to serve as McCown’s backup.
Either way, the starting job is McCown’s, at least for this week.
“I’m extremely comfortable with him,” Bowles said. “We talk all the time. He understands the game and the team and we see things the same way.
“So I’m comfortable.” McCown has not taken a snap in a regular-season game this season as the Jets have focused on developing Darnold. The No. 3 overall pick won the job out of training camp, but was injured during New York’s 13-6 loss at Miami last weekend.
Vance McDonald hauls in one of five TD passes thrown by Ben Roethlisberger in the Steelers’ 52-21 rout Thursday over the Panthers in Pittsburgh.