Problems from bad protection to poor run defense plague Panthers in 37-19 loss to Steelers

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — The Carolina Panthers didn't do much of anything right Sunday night.

They didn't protect Cam Newton in the pocket. They couldn't stop the Pittsburgh Steelers from running. They committed too many penalties and had some costly turnovers.

"People just took turns making mistakes," Newton said after the 37-19 loss.

The Panthers committed seven penalties for 105 yards, including an encroachment call as Pittsburgh lined up a field goal — giving the Steelers a first down that led directly to their first touchdown since Week 1.

Pittsburgh also had a pair of 100-yard rushers, sacked Newton three times and hit him several more. The Panthers ran for just 42 yards and fumbled a punt return that the Steelers recovered.

"We've got to stop hurting ourselves," tight end Greg Olsen said. "You're not going to win consistently in the league having to get two first downs on every drive. You can't be in first-and-20."

For the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger threw two 7-yard touchdown passes to Antonio Brown while Le'Veon Bell ran for 147 yards.

The Steelers had gone eight quarters without a touchdown before Roethlisberger's two scoring strikes in the third. They were set up by Newton's fumble and Bell's 81-yard run.

Roethlisberger finished 22 of 30 for 196 yards, and Brown had 90 yards receiving on 10 catches to help the Steelers (2-1) snap Carolina's eight-game home winning streak.

LeGarrette Blount ran for 118 yards, marking the first time since 1986 the Steelers have had two 100-yard rushers in a game. The Steelers outrushed the Panthers 264-42.

"That's awesome," Roethlisberger said. "I'm sure that Steeler fans back home are going crazy because we ran the ball for 100 and had two guys do it. That's just awesome. I think it shows what we can do if we put our minds to it."

The Panthers were looking for their first 3-0 start since 2003 — the year they went to the Super Bowl.

The Steelers lost defensive starters Ike Taylor, Ryan Shazier and Jarvis Jones to injuries.

Newton finished 24 of 35 for 250 yards, but was a non-factor running the ball with 7 yards on two carries. He faced heavy pressure from the Steelers most of the night, sometimes even from a three-man rush.

Newton is recovering from fractured ribs and still wearing a thick flak jacket. He took a forearm to the midsection from Shazier while running out of bounds and then was driven into the ground by Cameron Haywood when he came free on a stunt on back-to-back plays near the end of the first half.

Later, Newton took a shot to the knees from Jason Worlids and came up limping.

The Steelers led 9-3 at halftime behind Shaun Suisham's field goals of 42, 24, and 45 yards.

Pittsburgh hadn't scored a touchdown since the second quarter of their season opener before Roethlisberger connected with Brown in the back corner of the end zone following a colossal error by the Panthers. The score came after Carolina's Wes Horton was called for encroachment on a fourth-and-4 field-goal attempt, giving the Steelers a first down.

Brown scored on the next play.

"I just think collectively we kind of beat ourselves," Horton said.

After Bell broke free up the middle for an 81-yard burst on Pittsburgh's next drive, Brown struck again getting free while running across the field at the goal line for another 7-yard score that put Pittsburgh up 23-6.

Newton answered with a 37-yard TD pass to Olsen, but the Steelers onslaught continued.

Pittsburgh's Shamarko Thomas stripped Philly Brown on a punt return in the fourth quarter and Robert Golden came up with the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown.

Blount put the game away with an 8-yard touchdown run, running through Thomas DeCoud at the 4 and dragging him into the end zone in a moment that captured the Steelers' dominance.

"We have two guys we feel good about," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said about his running backs. "Thankfully, we were in a situation where we were winning enough possession downs on defense that we could utilize their talents. We had that opportunity to do it tonight and show what they're capable of."

Carolina was without Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy, who was removed from the active roster earlier this week after being placed on the exempt-commissioner's permission list.

Hardy was convicted July 15 of assault on a female and communicating threats after the victim said the 6-foot-4, 275-pound player threw her in the bathtub and onto a sofa covered with guns before threatening to kill her. He's appealing the ruling and a jury trial is set for Nov. 17.

NOTES: Newton's fumble was Carolina's first turnover of the season. ... Shazier left in the second quarter with a foot injury and did not return. ... Panthers WR Jerricho Cotchery, who had 10 touchdown catches for the Steelers last season, was declared inactive before the game because of a hamstring injury.


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