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American Football: Panthers finish another prefect preseason

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posted on Sep, 3 2004 @ 08:41 AM
One drive was enough for Carolina's Jake Delhomme to get ready for the season. Turns out one quarter wasn't enough for Pittsburgh's Tommy Maddox.

Rod Rutherford's 57-yard completion to Eugene Baker in the fourth quarter set up John Kasay's third field goal, and the Carolina Panthers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 16-13 Thursday night to finish their second consecutive unbeaten preseason.

The Panthers are hoping there is some precedence there as both they and the New England Patriots went unbeaten in exhibition play last year before winding up in the Super Bowl.

The Steelers (2-2) led 13-10 after Rod Bironas' second field goal, but Carolina recovered Pittsburgh rookie Richard Colclough's fumbled punt early in the fourth quarter and turned that into Kasay's tying 34-yarder.

Rutherford, the former Pitt quarterback who is fourth on Carolina's depth chart, started the Panthers' next possession with his deep throw to Baker, and Kasay kicked a 24-yarder five plays later for the game-winner.

Pittsburgh had a chance to win it in the final minute after No. 3 quarterback Brian St. Pierre hit Chris Doering for 16 yards and a first down at Carolina's 6, but rookie Willie Parker's fumble was recovered by Ricky Manning and Carolina ran out the clock. Parker, an undrafted free agent looking to sneak onto the Steelers' roster, had 28 yards on 13 carries after running for 106 against Philadelphia last week.

Carolina tied the game in the third quarter after Chris Weinke hit Keary Colbert on an 87-yard pass play.

Delhomme played long enough against New England last week to throw 31 passes - an uncommonly high number for an exhibition game - but played only one drive Thursday, though it was a long one.

Delhomme drove the Panthers from their 9 to the Steelers' 7 before the 18-play drive stalled on consecutive false start penalties and Kasay kicked a 29-yard field goal. The long drive was a welcome change for the Panthers, who were held to 51 yards rushing on 17 carries by New England.

The Steelers were coming off consecutive victories over the Texans and Eagles in which their starting offense was dominant at the start, but they punted on their first two drives Thursday.

That prompted coach Bill Cowher to send Maddox and the other starters out for the opening possession of the second quarter after previously saying they would play only a quarter. They responded with the Steelers' only touchdown drive of the game, a 69-yarder keyed by Maddox completions of 20 yards to Jay Riemersma and 19 to Antwaan Randle El and finished off by Verron Hayes' 6-yard run.

Maddox finished 5-of-7 for 56 yards for the game and 17-of-25 for the preseason - fewer passes than Delhomme threw last week. Rookie Ben Roethlisberger played long enough to find Lee Mays on a 38-yard completion to set up the first of Bironas' two field goals in the second half, a 20-yarder. He later kicked a 48-yarder.

The Steelers haven't had a winning exhibition season since going 3-1 in 2001. They were 2-2 this season and in 2002 and 1-3 in 2003.


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