Steel­ers pour it on, whip Pan­thers on big night from Big Ben

The Mercury News Weekend - - SPORTS - AROUND THE NFL

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 vis­it­ing Carolina Pan­thers 52-21 on 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 mph down a busy high­way in the north­ern city sub­urbs.

The Steel­ers (6- 2- 1) matched the most ever sur­ren­dered by the Pan­thers in fran­chise his­tory. The Pan­thers (6-3) saw their three­game win­ning streak come to an abrupt halt in a city where they’ve never won.

Cam New­ton com­pleted 23 of 29 for 193 yards and a pair of flips to Chris­tian McCaf­frey that the sec­ondyear run­ning back turned into scores.

The Steel­ers sacked New­ton five times and rarely let him get com­fort­able. McCaf­frey, the for­mer Stan­ford star, fin­ished with 138 yards to­tal of­fense (77 yards rush­ing, 61 yards re­ceiv­ing) and ac­counted for all three Pan­ther scores.

The Steel­ers held the 36-year- old Roeth­lis­berger out of prac­tice dur­ing the short week. Roeth­lis­berger re­sponded with one of the finest per­for­mances of his ca­reer, com­plet­ing 22 of 25 passes while spread­ing the ball to nine dif­fer­ent play­ers on his way to a per­fect quar­ter­back rat­ing of 158.3.

Roeth­lis­berger’s first pass turned into a 75-yard touch­down pass to JuJu Smith- Schus­ter on Pitts­burgh’s first of­fen­sive snap and his last came on a 6-yard toss to rookie Jaylen Sa­muels on the first play of the fourth quar­ter. TRAIL­BLAZ­ING AFRICANAMER­I­CAN WALLY TRIPLETT

DIES » Wally Triplett, the trail­blaz­ing run­ning back who was one of the first African-Amer­i­cans drafted by an NFL team, has died. He was 92. The De­troit Li­ons and Penn State an­nounced Triplett’s death Thurs­day. Triplett was the third African-Amer­i­can se­lected in the 1949 draft, but he was the first of those draftees to play in a reg­u­lar-sea­son game. He played in 24 games for the Li­ons and Chicago Car­di­nals.

Triplett was also the first African-Amer­i­can to start for Penn State, and in 1948, he and team­mate Den­nie Hog­gard be­came the first African-Amer­i­cans to play in the Cot­ton Bowl .

Triplett was in­ducted into the Cot­ton Bowl Hall of Fame this year. JETS’ MCCOWN TO START VS.

BILLS » Josh McCown is go­ing from men­tor to starter this week for the New York Jets.

The 39-year- old quar­ter­back will be un­der cen­ter 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 on 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 on Sun­day. If not, for­mer Cal quar­ter­back Davis Webb would be pro­moted from the prac­tice squad to serve as McCown’s backup. MACK, ROBIN­SON SHOULD RE­TURN TO BEARS » Two-time All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack and top re­ceiver Allen Robin­son look as if they’re just about ready to re­turn af­ter miss­ing the Chicago Bears’ past two games be­cause of in­juries. Both play­ers prac­ticed with­out lim­i­ta­tions Thurs­day for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive day. FITZGER­ALD CLOS­ING IN ON MILE­STONE » Larry Fitzger­ald is clos­ing in on an­other mile­stone, and it’s an im­pres­sive one. The 35-yearold re­ceiver needs to catch just 33 yards worth of passes Sun­day at Kansas City to move past Hall of Famer Ter­rell Owens into sec­ond place on the NFL’s all-time yards re­ceiv­ing list.

Halfway through his 15th sea­son, Fitzger­ald has 15,902 yards re­ceiv­ing, be­hind Owens’ 15,934 and Jerry Rice’s phe­nom­e­nal 22,895.

Fitzger­ald needs 58 catches to pass Tony Gon­za­lez for sec­ond on the NFL ca­reer re­cep­tions list. Fitzger­ald has 1,268 catches to Gon­za­lez’s 1,325 and Rice’s 1,549.


Steel­ers quar­ter­back Ben Roeth­lis­berger lets Pan­thers safety Eric Reid know he’s OK af­ter Reid was ejected for a tar­get­ing penalty in Thurs­day’s game.

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