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Panthers win with help from Ginn

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Two first-half touchdown receptions by Ted Ginn Jr. were enough for the Carolina Panthers to make it a winless preseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In a game with key players from both teams sitting out, the Panthers defeated the Steelers 25-10 in the preseason finale for both teams on Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium.

"I believe we're ready," Ginn said. "I believe I can be that kind of receiver -- all the time. You have to know how to shift gears."

Quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers and Cam Newton of the Panthers had the night off.

Many of the other frontline players for both teams were spectators as well, making it a key audition for reserves trying to land spots with the final round of cuts coming this weekend.

The Panthers finished the preseason with a 3-1 record.

"Very pleased, just the whole attitude and mentality that we've been working on since day one," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said.

The Steelers dropped to 0-4. Pittsburgh has never made the playoffs coming off a winless preseason.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said some things were achieved in the last preseason game, pointing to running back Felix Jones' 56 rushing yards on 14 carries as one of the encouraging signs.

"Some guys helped themselves, some guys didn't," Tomlin said.

Derek Anderson threw the two touchdown passes to Ginn and then gave way by late in the second quarter to Jimmy Clausen. Anderson completed 10 of 15 passes for 220 yards. Ginn had five receptions for 149 yards.

"You saw why we brought Ted in here," Rivera said. "That's what we're looking for."

The Steelers used rookie quarterback Landry Jones the whole way, and he had a difficult time. He was intercepted three times, all in the second half, twice by Colin Jones. Landry Jones completed 16 of 35 passes for 189 yards and one touchdown.

"I made some really bad decisions," Landry Jones said.

But Tomlin said by playing a full game that it should benefit the young quarterback out of Oklahoma. It also gave the team a chance to see the newcomer in a lot of situations.

"We wanted to take an extended look at Landry Jones," Tomlin said. "Some positives, some negatives."

Josh Norman and Colin Jones had third-quarter interceptions that set up field goals. Norman also registered 10 tackles.

"It was good again to see Josh Norman play well," Rivera said. "It was good to see our young people play well. We had some guys play really, really well. It will be tough (trimming the roster)."

The second interception by Colin Jones came when Landry Jones' intended receiver slipped.

The Panthers led 17-10 at halftime as the battle of backup quarterbacks began with a flurry. Both teams scored on their first possession.

Carolina's connection between Anderson, making his first start of any sort for the Panthers, and Ginn proved to be the most prolific.

Anderson directed Carolina on a six-play, 80-yard drive on the first series, hooking up with Ginn on a 35-yard touchdown play.

Pittsburgh matched that with an eight-play possession covering 80 yards. Tight end David Paulson snatched a 13-yard touchdown pass from Landry Jones.

Ginn made moves for an 87-yard touchdown catch-and-run TD with less than five minutes remaining in the half, creating a 17-7 edge.

That gave the Panthers three scoring drives of more than 75 yards. The other one resulted in Graham Gano's 19-yard field goal.

The Steelers moved inside the Carolina 10-yard line late in the half before a penalty stalled the drive and they settled for Shaun Suisham's 37-yard field goal.

With running back Jonathan Stewart placed on the physically unable to perform list earlier in the week, Carolina gave its young running backs an opportunity to campaign for the top reserve spot behind DeAngelo Williams. Mike Tolbert was out with a hamstring ailment and rookie Kenjon Barner has been hobbled by an ankle injury since the third preseason game.

The Panthers managed only 51 rushing yards by halftime.

The Steelers were watching the punting competition between Drew Butler and Brian Moorman. Moorman launched a 55-yarder in the second quarter. Butler's first-half attempts went for 27 yards and 34 yards, pinning the Panthers at their 12-yard line the first time and at their 9 the next time.

Gano kicked field goals of 40 and 23 yards for the only second-half scoring until the Panthers recorded a safety when Pittsburgh rookie punt returner Reggie Dunn was tackled in the end zone.

"Decision errors, particularly in the return game," Tomlin said.

NOTES: The Steelers open the regular season on Sept. 8 at home against the Tennessee Titans. ... Carolina's opener comes the same day at home against the Seattle Seahawks, who won last year in Charlotte. ... Steelers FB Will Johnson left in the first quarter with a hamstring injury. Tomlin said that was the Steelers' lone significant injury in the game. ... A college football season opener between North Carolina and South Carolina taking place in Columbia, S.C., might have accounted for some of the empty seats for the Panthers' final preseason game.
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