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Sep 21, 2014 10:10 PM

Steelers lead Panthers 9-3 after 1st half

The Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Shaun Suisham kicked his third field goal as time expired in the second quarter to give the Pittsburgh Steelers a 9-3 lead over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night.

Suisham had two field goals in the second, capping an 8-minute drive with a 24-yarder, then connecting from 45 to end the half.

But the Steelers failed to find the end zone in what has become a recurring problem. Pittsburgh has now gone eight quarters two full games without a touchdown since the season opener.

Pittsburgh nearly got a touchdown catch from Markus Wheaton, but an official ruled Wheaton had stepped on the sideline before making the short catch to set up Suisham's second field goal.

Ben Roethlisberger warmed up from a slow start, throwing for 134 yards on 15-for-22 passing. Le'Veon Bell added 47 yards rushing.

Graham Gano had Carolina's only points with his 40-yard kick to end the Panthers' first drive.

Cam Newton threw for 117 yards on 12-for-17 passing, but the Panthers were unable to move the ball on the ground against one of the league's worst run defenses. Carolina managed just 10 yards rushing in the opening half.

The teams were relatively even in the opening period, each managing one solid drive that pushed near the 20 before settling for field goals.

They were relatively even statistically after the opening period, with Pittsburgh relying largely on Bell for the bulk of its offense. Roethlisberger found himself under pressure early and completed just 4 of 8 passes for 16 yards while taking one sack in the first period.

The Panthers entered the game aiming for their first 3-0 start since 2003, the season they made it to the Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh hasn't reached the end zone since Bell's 38-yard scoring run in the second quarter of the season-opening win over Cleveland. The Steelers managed two field goals the rest of that game, then just two field goals with three turnovers in last week's 26-6 loss at Baltimore.

The Panthers were down two offensive starters. Running back DeAngelo Williams and receiver Jerricho Cotchery were both inactive due to hamstring injuries.

Jonathan Stewart made his second straight start for Williams, while undrafted rookie Philly Brown started for Cotchery and had his first two NFL catches on Carolina's first drive.

Carolina was without its Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy, who was removed from the active roster earlier this week after being placed on the exempt-commissioner's permission list.

Hardy was convicted July 15 of assault on a female and communicating threats after the victim said the 6-foot-4, 275-pound player threw her in the bathtub and onto a sofa covered with guns before threatening to kill her. Hardy is appealing the ruling and a jury trial is set for Nov. 17.


Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL


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