Roethlisberger, Steelers stampede Panthers

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) is pressured into throwing a pick six interception by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt (90 in the first quarter at Heinz Field. — Reuters

PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger threw touchdown tosses to five different teammates Thursday, and the Pittsburgh Steelers rolled over the visiting Carolina Panthers 52-21 for their fifth consecutive win.

Roethlisberger threw for 328 yards on 22-of-25 passing for Pittsburgh (6-2-1). Antonio Brown made six catches for 96 yards and a touchdown.

Christian McCaffrey ran for a touchdown, added two scoring receptions and piled up 138 total yards for Carolina (6-3). Cam Newton passed for 193 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, and he was sacked five times.

The Steelers turned the game into a rout in the first half despite Carolina scoring first. McCaffrey accounted for 60 of the 75 yards on the Panthers' opening drive, and he scored on a 20-yard pass from Newton.

Pittsburgh answered with one play — Roethlisberger's 75-yard throw to JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 7-7 tie at 10:18.

On Carolina's next play, T.J. Watt chased Newton into the end zone, and the quarterback heaved the ball out of desperation. Vince Williams picked it off and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 Steelers lead.

James Conner's 2-yard touchdown run boosted the lead to 21-7 late in the first quarter. Chris Boswell's season-long 50-yard field goal at 9:46 of the second quarter made it 24-7. Conner left in the fourth quarter to be evaluated for a possible concussion.

McCaffrey's second touchdown catch, for 25 yards, cut it to 24-14, but Roethlisberger hit Brown for a 53-yard scoring pass with 3:08 left in the first half to make it 31-14.

The Steelers kept it going in the third, with Roethlisberger finding Vance McDonald in the back of the end zone from 12 yards out to push it to 38-14.

Carolina safety Eric Reid got ejected for hitting Roethlisberger in the head at the end of a season-long, 17-yard run with 1:15 left in the third. Two plays later, Roethlisberger threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jesse James to make it 45-14.

Pittsburgh's Roosevelt Nix knocked the ball loose from return man Curtis Samuel on the ensuing kickoff, and Anthony Chickillo recovered at the Panthers 7. That set up rookie Jaylen Samuels' first career touchdown, a 6-yard catch, on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 52-14.

McCaffrey punched it in from 2 yards out to make it 52-21 with 5:35 to go. — Reuters