PITTSBURGH (93.7 the Fan) – The Pittsburgh Steelers scored on every possession with their first-team offense and added a defensive touchdown in a 52-21 beating of the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night.
But amid the cryptic tweets from holdout star running back Le’Veon Bell on Thursday came the realization that maybe the Steelers would need him after all: James Conner left the blowout win to go into concussion protocol.
Conner’s last carry was the final play of the third quarter, a 3-yard gain before he was replaced by rookie Jaylen Samuels, who then rushed six yards for his first NFL score.
“James Conner is in the protocol, but I do not know to what extent,” head coach Mike Tomlin said. “I am sure we’ll have more information the next time we come together.”
Conner finished with a touchdown on 13 carries for 65 yards and caught a pass for eight yards.
“Really big performance versus a really good team on a short week, so there is a lot of be proud of, but we are probably not that good,” Tomlin said. “You get games like that sometimes.”
Returning from a physical game in Baltimore and recovering from a broken finger was no issue for Ben Roethlisberger. The 15-year Steelers quarterback completed 22 of 25 passes for 328 yards, five touchdowns and a 158.3 passer rating before being replaced by Josh Dobbs with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
When Roethlisberger slid following an 18-yard scramble, Panthers defensive back Eric Reid launched at him and caught him in the side of the head. Reid was ejected.
Center Maurkice Pouncey said the hit was unacceptable. Pouncey said Reid apologized to them and said the hit was unintentional.
Did Pouncey realize the kind of night Roethlisberger had?
“Nah, I didn’t even pay attention, but I knew he was on fire,” Pouncey said. “He should probably get AFC Player of the Week before the other teams even play this weekend. First ballot [Hall of Fame>, I keep telling you guys, I will be there at the party when he gets enshrined.”