Roethlisberger helps Steelers thrash Panthers

By Sports Desk November 08, 2018

Ben Roethlisberger starred to lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 52-21 thrashing of the Carolina Panthers in the NFL on Thursday.

Both the Steelers and Panthers had to quickly recover from wins on Sunday to face each other at Heinz Field. But, only one backed up their week-nine victory with another big performance.

The Steelers scored three touchdowns in less than five minutes to build an early lead in the first quarter and rode that to a big win over the Panthers. Pittsburgh have now tallied five straight victories.

The Steelers scored on all but two drives, and one ended in Roethlisberger taking a knee to end the half. He was perfect, running back James Conner continued to impress and the once-hot Panthers froze in Pittsburgh.


Carolina's streak ends

Carolina had every intention of going toe-to-toe with the team in control of the AFC North.

The Panthers were riding a three-game winning streak, including a 42-28 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They posted 78 points in their last two games, and at least 30 or more points in four of their last six. Carolina have weapons like quarterback Cam Newton and running back Christian McCaffrey, plus a defense studded with the likes of Eric Reid.

But, against the streaking Steelers, they could not get it done.

Carolina started the game with their first opening-drive touchdown in 10 games, but then turnovers, consecutive punts and another turnover halted any momentum they had.

Newton, who had completed nearly 70 per cent of his passes during the team's win streak, finished 23-of-29 passing for 193 yards and two touchdowns. He threw one interception and was sacked five times. It was his lowest output since week three (150 yards) and the most times he has been brought down all season. 


It's amazing what you can do with a good O-line

It seemed like Roethlisberger had all the time in the world, and that is because he did. 

The Steelers' gave their play-caller so much protection, he was able to dominate.

He was perfect, literally.

Roethlisberger finished with a perfect passer rating (158.3) after completing 22 of his 25 passes for 328 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. He connected with nine different receivers, including team leaders Antonio Brown (96 yards) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (90). 


Panthers have McCaffrey, but Steelers have Conner

There have been reports that Le'Veon Bell is in Pittsburgh and could return to the team by Tuesday's deadline. But, even if Bell ends his prolonged holdout, the Steelers have another player in the backfield that has carried the weight of the team's run game.

The running back matchup between McCaffrey and Conner featured some of the best talent in the NFL this season. While McCaffrey made up a bulk of Carolina's yards and all three scores on Thursday, it was Conner who continued to steal the show, which leaves many to wonder: If Bell does return, will he replace his replacement?

Conner finished the game with 13 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown. The score was his 10th of the year, more than Bell has ever recorded in a single season (nine). 

The touchdown resulted in Conner and Brown becoming the first pair of team-mates with 10 or more touchdowns each in their team's first nine games since Abner Haynes and Chris Burford did it for the 1962 Chiefs.

He did leave the game in the fourth quarter to be evaluated for a possible concussion. He was listed as questionable, and with the team's 38-point lead at the time of his exit, it was unlikely he would return to the field anyway.

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    Sunday's AFC championship game will showcase a special matchup that features the NFL's past and future: the greatest of all time against the kid.

    Patriots veteran Tom Brady will head to Kansas City for New England's eighth straight conference title game appearance as the Chiefs host their first AFC championship game with second-year gunslinger Patrick Mahomes leading the way.

    Brady, 41, and Mahomes, 23, are separated by the largest age gap between two starting quarterbacks in postseason history, but they share common ground in the NFL record books.

    Here, we break down their season to this point and what to expect from Sunday's showdown.


    How they stack up this season

    Regular season

    Patrick Mahomes
    Completion percentage: 66.0
    Yards: 5,097
    Touchdowns: 50
    Interceptions: 12
    Rating: 113.8

    Tom Brady
    Completion percentage:
    Yards: 4,355
    Touchdowns: 29
    Interceptions: 11
    Rating: 97.7

    Post divisional round

    Mahomes v Indianapolis Colts
    Completion percentage: 65.9
    Yards: 278
    Touchdowns: 0
    Interceptions: 0
    Rating: 85.2

    Brady v Los Angeles Chargers
    Completion percentage: 77.3
    Yards: 343
    Touchdowns: 1
    Interceptions: 0
    Rating: 106.5


    More than numbers

    Mahomes has outperformed Brady in only his second season in the league, both from a statistical standpoint and a talent perspective as he flawlessly threw left-handed and no-look passes during his 2018-19 campaign as a first-year starter.

    On the other hand, Brady will be in an unusual spot on Sunday as the Patriots are underdogs for just the second time since 2007 entering Arrowhead Stadium. And if his outing in the divisional round against the Chargers is any indication, Brady will not be playing like he did during the regular season. In fact, it could be argued that the pressure brings out his best performances.


    Mahomes just getting started

    This season has been all about Mahomes and his magnificent growth after former starter Alex Smith was traded to the Washington Redskins last January. Mahomes capped his MVP-worthy season in historic fashion when he became just the second NFL player to throw for 50 touchdowns and 5,000 passing yards in a single season.

    He then helped the Chiefs secure their first playoff victory since 2015 and first at Arrowhead since 1993.

    But Mahomes has seen the Brady effect firsthand before. Kansas City rallied from a 15-point deficit against New England in week six but fell 43-40 on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal as time expired. The loss was a learning experience for Mahomes as he realised his team "cannot make mistakes" even after he threw for an impressive 352 yards and four touchdowns.


    Brady or bust

    With five Super Bowl rings and eight AFC titles, Brady is the most successful postseason quarterback in the league's history. But even the most seasoned signal-callers get worn down eventually.

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    In contests Brady has started, New England had been favoured in 67 straight games. The probability of him winning on Sunday, however, has taken a hit as his age was exposed at times this season.

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    Touchdowns: 32
    Interceptions: 12
    Rating: 101.1

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    Touchdowns: 32
    Interceptions: 5
    Rating: 115.7


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    Touchdowns: 0
    Interceptions: 0
    Rating: 74.4

    Brees v Philadelphia Eagles
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    Touchdowns: 2
    Interceptions: 1
    Rating: 103.1


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    Yet, the Saints could be slowed by the Rams' dominating defensive front led by NFL Defensive Player of The Year favourite Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers.


    Getting Goff going

    Though the Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes stole the show under center during the regular season, Goff was still in the mix for MVP along with Brees, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers. However, Goff's performance cooled down the stretch before igniting once again in the final two weeks before the postseason began. He then put on a lacklustre performance at the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round, leaving his consistency in question entering a crucial rematch in New Orleans.

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  • Wentz is the quarterback 'going forward', says Eagles coach Pederson Wentz is the quarterback 'going forward', says Eagles coach Pederson

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    Speaking in a news conference on Tuesday, the head coach insisted the Eagles will stick with Wentz as the starter, despite him missing the past two postseasons due to injuries, including their Super Bowl triumph last season.

    Wentz being out meant back-up Nick Foles came under center once again, and he had great results. 

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    Wentz, who was coming off a severe knee injury from the 2017 season, threw for 3,074 yards with 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 11 games before a fractured vertabra derailed him. Wentz said Monday he does not expect his back to be a lingering issue.

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