With 11:01 left in the game, Roethlisberger put on a knit hat and a parka. He was done for the night with the Steelers out to a huge lead. The Panthers were probably happy about that because they had no chance of stopping Roethlisberger or the Steelers.
Roethlisberger finished the Steelers’ 52-21 win with a perfect 158.3 passer rating, completing 22 of 25 passes for 328 yards and five touchdowns. Roethlisberger hooked five different players up with touchdown catches. The Steelers were in total command by the time the fourth quarter started, allowing Roethlisberger to take a seat and watch Joshua Dobbs finish the game. The Steelers improved to 6-2-1.
The Panthers aren’t bad, of course. They were 6-2 coming into Thursday night’s game. Their defense was in the NFL’s top 12 in yards and points allowed before facing the Steelers. And Pittsburgh ripped them apart. The Steelers have gotten hot after a slow start to the season, and they looked like one of the best teams in football on Thursday night.
Steelers offense steamrolls Panthers
The crazy thing about the Steelers’ destruction of the Panthers is that Carolina scored first. They drove easily downfield, and Cam Newton hit Christian McCaffrey on a touchdown pass. Good start.
Then Roethlisberger hit JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 75-yard TD on Pittsburgh’s first offensive play. On the first play of the ensuing possession, Newton threw an awful interception that was returned by linebacker Vince Williams, and the rout was on.
Roethlisberger was dealing the whole night. After Smith-Schuster, Antonio Brown caught a long touchdown. Then Vance McDonald got one, Jesse James caught one and rookie running back Jaylen Samuels joined the fun with his first career touchdown on a short pass from Roethlisberger.
There are a lot of weapons at Roethlisberger’s disposal, as well as one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. And here’s where we’re obligated to mention that two-time All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell could soon join the Steelers’ star-studded offense … maybe.
James Conner gets evaluated for a concussion
The only bad part of the night for the Steelers came when James Conner was taken back to the locker room to be evaluated for a possible concussion. It’s a reminder that Bell will be a good insurance policy, if he decides to end his holdout and sign his franchise tender.
Everything else for the Steelers was about as perfect as Roethlisberger’s passer rating. The running game has been very good with Conner, and it might be even better with Conner and Bell splitting carries. The Steelers have two star receivers in Brown and Smith-Schuster, and a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback in Roethlisberger to get them the ball. The Steelers remain a Super Bowl contender because on the right day, they can outscore anyone.
The Chiefs, Rams and Saints get credit for their explosive offenses, and they currently look like the three best teams in football. But when the Steelers get it rolling on offense like they did on Thursday, they look as good as anyone in the NFL.
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Fed-up 7-year-old’s hilarious letter to Cowboys owner
• Floyd Mayweather calls off fight against kickboxer
• Le’VeonBell sighting is followed by cryptic tweets
• A hero’s welcome: The lives Watt helped save
– – – – – – –