TJ Watt and Cam Newton

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Thursday Night Football

Panthers v. Steelers. Two of the hottest teams in the NFL.

November 09, 2018 - 9:51 am
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Panthers v. Steelers. Two of the hottest teams in the NFL. One team on a three-game winning streak. One team on a four-game winning streak. If there was ever a Thursday night game that felt like a Sunday night game, it was last night’s game. Until it started.

And it ended in a hurry. 

All the buzz coming into the game was about the Panthers offense and how Norv Turner had completely transformed it. And that Norv and his kid were the best thing that ever happened to Cam. And that buzz appeared to be justified. Norval might not be the greatest head coach ever, but the guy can dial up an offense. And the Panthers rolled into Pittsburgh last night with Cam Newton playing at an MVP level and Christian McCaffrey looking like Stanford Christian McCaffrey. 

And proceeded to go right down the field on their opening drive on them, in their house, in prime time, as Newton and McCaffrey carved up the Steelers on a 75-yard touchdown drive capped off by a 20 yard td pass from Newton to McCaffrey.

Seven-nothing Panthers and it looked like it would be a long night for the Steelers. It wasn’t.

Pittsburgh got the ball back and scored on their first play from scrimmage.7-7 and now we have ourselves a ballgame. No we don’t.

Because this was the next play. Pick Six. 14-7 Steelers. 13 seconds, 14 points. Game changed and game ended. 

Carolina got the ball back, managed to move a total of one yard and punted. Pittsburgh drove 61 yards and ended the drive with a James Conner.

21-7 Steelers and we’re still in the first quarter.  Ballgame.  Thanks for coming.  Because it didn’t get better for the Panthers. It got worse. Much much worse. Every time Cam Newton dropped back to pass, someone in all-black was in his face or his chest. And every time Ben Roethlisberger dropped back, he found someone. He was 22 of 25 for 328 yards, 5 touchdowns and a perfect passer rating. 

Want more? Try this.

Antonio Brown for six. And no, I’m not going to make some lame joke about him speeding on the roads and on the field. The guy was allegedly pulled over for driving 100 earlier in the day. There’s nothing funny about reckless speeding and endangering yourself and others. 

But that wasn’t a distraction. Because nothing was going to distract the Steelers last night. Not players speeding, not players who weren’t there. They were locked in on the Panthers.  

As Steelers offensive guard Ramon Foster said, “That team wanted to come in here and embarrass us. We just answered the call.”

They did more than answer the call. They ripped the phone off the wall and smashed Carolina in the face with it.

It was such a dominant performance, that the Steelers were practically apologizing for it. Mike Tomlin: “we are probably not that good.” Maurkice Pouncey: “this is not normal.” 

It was so good and so dominant that even some guy on Twitter was posting: Juju is so special man...

James go crazy then!!

And

I think it’s safe to say, it’s time to pass the sticks...

Oh, that guy? He’s the All-Pro running back who’s good for nearly 2,000 yards per season who isn’t on this team right now. I don’t know who’s more tired of talking about him, his teammates or me. Call it a tie for last. 

Just like I don’t know if he was genuinely hyping his guys or if he just wanted to keep his name on everyone’s minds, but I know this: nobody who watched that game last night thought, this offense really misses him. 

Because it doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong: they’d take him. And if Conner is concussion protocol, that becomes even more serious. But they didn’t miss him last night or the previous month. Not when they are winning five straight and stomping legit playoff teams by 31.

That game was such a blowout, the Steelers cracked 50 early in the fourth and could’ve gone for 60 or 70. They ripped the hearts out of Carolina and then rested for the final 15 minutes. It was such a blowout that Eric Reid’s ejection was an afterthought. 

Come to find out, the Steelers were not D.O.A., earlier this season and Mike Tomlin hasn’t overstayed his welcome or lost that locker room. If anything, he’s never been sharper…; their entire season looked like it came up the rails four games in, but as usual, he’d didn’t lose his head, so they didn’t lose theirs; and they’re right where back where they usually are: playing their best football when it matters most and looking like the AFC is every bit as much theirs as it is new England or Kansas City’s. Especially, if Ben is slinging around like that, and the Steelers are getting after the quarterback the way they are.

Now they have plenty of time to rest up and maybe get a new running back before November 18th’s game against Jacksonville. And if the Steelers who showed up last night show up on that day, Duuuuvallll is in troubbbblllleeee.  And so is the rest of the league.