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(Thursday, December 23rd)
Final Score: Pittsburgh 27, Carolina 3
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers took care of business against a team they were supposed to beat.
Now, they'll wait to see if Baltimore can do the same thing.
Roethlisberger passed for 320 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another score, and Pittsburgh rolled to a 27-3 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Thursday in a game between teams on opposite ends of the NFL spectrum.
Roethlisberger completed 22 of his 32 passes, including a 43-yard touchdown throw to Mike Wallace in the second quarter. Wallace had four catches for 104 yards and Rashard Mendenhall rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Already in the playoffs, the Steelers (11-4) can clinch the AFC North and a first-round bye if the Ravens lose to Cleveland on Sunday.
If Baltimore wins, Pittsburgh would clinch with a victory over the Browns on January 2. Either way, the Steelers look to be in good shape.
"It's great to be in the clubhouse for the weekend with a necessary win and now we can watch the other (teams) sort themselves out," said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
"We were far from perfect, but we were good enough to win tonight."
The Steelers bounced back against an overmatched Carolina team that was a sight for sore eyes. Pittsburgh was coming off a 22-17 loss to the Jets on Sunday, which ended a four-game winning streak.
How lopsided was the game? Pittsburgh held Carolina to just seven first downs and 119 yards of offense while picking up 22 first downs and gaining 408 yards for itself.
"I felt like we did some really good things tonight," said Roethlisberger. "We're always striving to get better and do some better things. And every game we get a little bit better. That's important right now."
The Panthers (2-13) got their only points from John Kasay's 27-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and continue to have the NFL's worst record.
Jimmy Clausen completed just 10-of-23 passes for 72 yards and Jonathan Stewart ran for 71 yards in the loss. There were no real bright spots in the Panthers' offense.
"I didn't think anybody played good today. The team didn't play good," said Panthers running back Mike Goodson. "It's never one guy when we win, it's never one guy when we lose."
Pittsburgh forced a few big turnovers despite playing without ball-hound safety Troy Polamalu for the second straight game because of an ankle injury.
The Steelers got tight end Heath Miller back from a concussion and he led all receivers with five catches for 73 yards, including a 20-yard grab that helped set up Pittsburgh's first points.
Shaun Suisham's 26-yard field goal gave the Steelers a 3-0 lead on their first series of the game, but only after a would-be touchdown catch by Emmanuel Sanders in the front of the end zone was ruled an incomplete pass.
Besides Miller's catch, Mendenhall's 35-yard carry on the Steelers' first play from scrimmage was the other big play on the scoring drive.
Cornerback Bryant McFadden intercepted Clausen and Pittsburgh took a 10-0 lead on Wallace's touchdown early in the second quarter. The speedy Wallace caught a short five-yard pass and stretched it an extra 38 yards down the middle of the field for the score.
The Steelers continued to pour it on, despite Roethlisberger fumbling a snap on their next possession. They got the ball back on a punt and Mendenhall scored on a one-yard run.
Suisham booted a 29-yard field goal to make it 20-0, but Pittsburgh was unable to capitalize when Carolina fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Suisham missed wide- right on 41-yarder at the end of the half.
A short Carolina punt and 22-yard pass interference penalty led to Roethlisberger's one-yard keeper for a touchdown and 27-0 Steelers lead with five minutes left in the third quarter.
Carolina didn't get on the board until Kasay's 27-yard field goal with just 8:29 left in the game.
"We gotta continue to take care of business," said Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley.
Despite their NFL-worst record, the Panthers were coming off a win against Arizona on Sunday...Roethlisberger, whose nose was broken in a key win over Baltimore on December 5, was seen on the sideline with cotton swabs stuffed into his nostrils.
12/24 01:46:02 ET
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