Steelers pound Panthers, 19-3

CHARLOTTE – The Pittsburgh Steelers closed out their first preseason under Coach Mike Tomlin by defeating the Carolina Panthers, 19-3, at Bank of America Stadium on Thursday night.

The Steelers finish the preseason with a 4-1 record.

Both offenses sputtered through much of the first-half, with the only scoring coming on a pair of 31-yard field goals by Carolina's John Kasay, and Pittsburgh's Jeff Reed.

Ben Roethlisberger started at quarterback for the Steelers and exited after one series. He finished 2-of-2 passing for 16 yards, including a 17-yard completion to Nate Washington on the games second play from scrimmage.

Midway through the second quarter, with the Panthers leading 3-0, Carolina's Michael Gaines caught a wide open pass over the middle at his own 17-yard line, only to fumble the ball as he turned up field. Safety Tyrone Carter tunneled his way to the bottom of the pile and came up with the loose ball for the Steelers. Three plays later, Reed tied the score.

On the Panthers ensuing possession, quarterback David Carr was intercepted by linebacker Clint Kriewaldt at the Carolina 45 yard line.

After rushing for only 20 yards on 11 carries in the first-half, the Steelers finally found some rhythm in their running game early in the third quarter as they rode Verron Haynes and Gary Russell - with the aid of several Panthers penalties - for a 68-yard drive capped off with a 34-yard Reed field goal.

Reed kicked his fourth field goal of the night at the 8:41 mark of the fourth quarter to give the Steelers a 12-3 lead. This one was set up after Rookie punter Daniel Sepulveda launched a 57-yard punt, and then recovered a fumble by the Panthers Taye Biddle during the return.

The Steelers closed out the scoring when Tyrone Carter intercepted a Dalton Bell pass and returned it 39-yards for the games only touchdown late in the fourth quarter. It was the fifth turnover the Steelers forced on the night, and the second interception.

Gary Russell, in his quest to make the final cut, finished as the games leading rusher with 62 yards on 21 carries. Verron Haynes, also battling for one of the final roster spots, put forth a spirited effort as he tallied 47 yards on 13 carries.

Rookie linebackers Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley combined for eight tackles, including two for losses, while fifth-round draft pick William Gay recovered another fumble, the fifth turnover he was involved in during the preseason.

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