The PittsburghSteelers took on the Panthers on Thursday night and dominated. By halftime the game felt over and 2 quarters later it was, in a 52-21 win.
It was a great night in Pittsburgh. It’s incredible to think this is the same team that tied the Browns in week 1. This is the same team who was reeling from losing its best defensive player and arguably its best offensive player, and appeared desperate to stay above .500 early on. Now, they’re the team who scores 52 points against a playoff contender and gives hell to one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.
The Steelers were on fire Thursday night. All facets of their renewed identity were pumping on all cylinders. Coming off just a few days practice, they managed a game plan that shut down a great quarterback and tore apart a great defense. Thursday night was a statement game.
And here’s what we learned:
This Defense Can Play
The Steelers held the Panthers to less than 200 yards receiving and less than 100 yards rushing. They got 2 turnovers and 5 sacks. They held them to 21 points, but one of those being in garbage time with some starters on the bench it’s pretty much 14. This is against a solid offense and solid defense. This is against a previously 6-2, now 6-3, playoff contender.
The Steelers are 9th in defense. They haven’t let a team score more than 21 points in the last 5 games. They’ve clawed their way to the middle of the pack in passing defense but they’re sitting at 6th overall in rushing. They’re averaging 3.44 sacks per game, tied with the Vikings for 1st in the league. This defense has made a dramatic turnaround. No trades. No free agents. It’s a testament to the players and coaches that this defense has made such a improvement.