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