NFL Carolina topples Steelers 21-14



Pittsburgh finished the exhibition season 1-3.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- The Carolina Panthers finally took a long look at their backup quarterbacks, but probably didn't see enough to take the starting job away from Rodney Peete.
Chris Weinke was decent in his first shot against a legitimate defense, and Jake Delhomme directed all three of Carolina's scoring drives in the Panthers' 21-14 victory Friday night over the Pittsburgh Steelers in their preseason finale.
Two touchdown passes
Delhomme, an offseason free-agent addition, threw two touchdown passes to lead Carolina to a perfect 4-0 preseason record for the first time in the franchise's nine-year history.
He threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Mike Seidman in the second quarter, then tossed a 31-yarder to rookie Walter Young late in the third quarter.
Delhomme also was at the helm when Rod Smart scored on a 5-yard run that gave Carolina a 21-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Peete, who played just the one possession, hooked up with Muhsin Muhammad for three passes for 31 yards before the drive stalled out. He finished 4-for-5 for 31 yards.
Then Weinke, the third-string quarterback all preseason, took over. Playing against a first-team defense for the first time, he wasn't able to effectively move the offense and was sacked by Kendrell Bell for a 7-yard loss that ended Carolina's possession.
He fared better against the Steelers' second- and third-team defenses, and ended the night 11-for-16 for 120 yards.
Delhomme was a perfect 11-for-11 for 123 yards.
When it counted most -- when the first-teamers were in the game -- it was the Steelers who shined.
Steelers score early
The Steelers (1-3) scored two touchdowns against the Panthers' first-team defense, which sat three starters and seemed uninspired after learning before the game that linebackers coach Sam Mills has cancer in his small intestine. Mills still coached from up in a suite.
Playing behind an offensive line it considers to be one of the best in the league, the Steelers' offense reached the end zone on Amos Zereoue's 19-yard touchdown run on their second possession.
The Steelers also got a TD from their second team, when backup quarterback Charlie Batch led a 99-yard drive that ended with his 3-yard touchdown pass to Matt Cushing for a 14-0 lead. The drive was highlighted with a 49-yard pass from Batch to Chris Doering on a flea flicker.
Zereoue ran for 33 yards on five carries, Batch went 8-for-11 for 104 yards, starter Tommy Maddox was 4-for-5 for 65 yards on two possessions and Doering had three catches for 59 yards.
Clark Haggans had two sacks for the Steelers.
Carolina's most impressive defensive play came from its second and third-stringers. Rookie Ricky Manning Jr. had an interception, Tony Brown had an 11-yard sack of Brian St. Pierre, and the Steelers never got close to the end zone again.

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