PANTHERS 10, STEELERS 0
Steelers' preseason record: 1-3
One year ago: 0-4
Preseason series record: Steelers lead, 10-6
On Tuesday, the date of the team's final full practice before the preseason finale, Coach Mike Tomlin told the players that jobs still can be won or lost based on performances in this game, and he cited examples such as Derek Moye and Stefan Logan as guys who used this last chance to secure their spot on the roster.
The Pittsburgh Steelers closed out their 2014 preseason against the Carolina Panthers at Heinz Field
"The things that are important – fundamental things – running, blocking, tackling, catching – that's what I'll be looking for from the men tonight," said Tomlin. "We're not going to try to reinvent the wheel or try to split an atom tonight, and I'm sure Carolina feels the same way. It's going to create an atmosphere where a lot of guys are going to have an opportunity to show what they're capable of fundamentally. I'm looking forward to that."
The only scoring during the game's first 35 minutes was a 33-yard field goal by Graham Gano on the game's opening possession, and the Panthers put the game away with a touchdown on their opening possession of the second half. The big play was a 53-yard pass from Joe Webb to wide receiver Philly Brown, who beat cornerback Antwon Blake on the play. On the next snap, Fozzy Whittaker plunged 2 yards for the touchdown that made the Panthers' lead 10-0.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT I
A confusing statistic from the first half: Landry Jones completed 10-of-13 in the first half to finish with a passer rating of 88.3. But because those 10 completions gained only 69 yards and the Steelers were 0-for-5 on third downs, Carolina held a 3-0 halftime lead.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT II**
The shutout loss to the Panthers was the Steelers' first in a preseason game since 1992, when they were blanked by the Saints, 26-0, in New Orleans during Bill Cowher's rookie season as their coach.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT III
"Really to summarize the evening is quite simple," said Coach Mike Tomlin following the game. "Not enough cohesion to sustain drives to put points on the board, and when you lack that type of cohesion you better get splash plays to flip the field and ring the scoreboard up, and we didn't do that."
To put statistics to those words, the Steelers had 10 offensive possessions in the game. On the first they turned the ball over on downs after failing to convert a fourth-and-1, and on the next nine they punted.
WILL TOMLIN STAY A 3-QUARTERBACK GUY?
Coach Mike Tomlin has said on a few occasions that he's a three-quarterback guy, and in each of his seasons as the Steelers coach the team never has entered a season with only two on the initial 53-man roster.
This season, the issue of whether to keep a third quarterback seemed to be a pressing one heading into the preseason finale, with Landry Jones not having done enough yet to secure the job. When asked what more he needed to see from Jones, Tomlin said, "Just consistent, above the line play, and that's about a straight of an arrow as I can fire."
In the 2013 preseason finale, Jones played every offensive snap. During the first half, he completed 10-of-20 for 133 yards, with one touchdown, no interceptions and a passer rating of 88.1. He would finish having completed 16-of-35 for 189 yards, with the same one touchdown, but with three interceptions, and a passer rating of 36.5
Coming into this game, Jones had played in two of the three preseason games. His 2014 statistics line was: 13-of-26 for 127 yards, with no touchdowns, one interception, and a passer rating of 48.1.
Jones started against the Panthers, and he played the first half plus the first series of the third quarter. During that time he completed a respectable 14-of-18, those completions only gained 97 yards, and he also was sacked three times.
Jones' competition for the No. 3 quarterback job is undrafted rookie Brendon Kay, who took over for Jones and finished out the game. Kay completed 5-of-10 for 32 yards.
THE STARTERS WHO DIDN'T START
Eight starters were given the night off by Coach Mike Tomlin. Cortez Allen, Jason Worilds, Cam Heyward, and Troy Polamalu on defense; Maurkice Pouncey, Heath Miller, Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger on offense. Dri Archer started at running back in place of Le'Veon Bell, but Bell was in the game before the end of the first quarter.
TOMLIN'S INJURY UPDATE
"On the injury front, we had two injuries in the football game I think are worth noting. Martavis Bryant has an AC sprain in the shoulder. Don't know the significance of that, and we'll evaluate him in the morning. Brice McCain sustained a right groin injury of some kind. We'll evaluate both of those guys as quickly as possible and get some direction in terms of the length of time and so forth with them."