Steelers subjection Panthers, Ben Roethlisberger has 5 TDs forward of Le'Veon Bell's expected return

PITTSBURGH — The Steelers remained hotter than a blast furnace, fluctuating their winning strain to 5 games Thursday night by mashing a Panthers — they entered a diversion on a three-game win strain of their possess — 52-21.

Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger finished 22 of 25 throws for 328 yards and 5 touchdowns to 5 opposite receivers. He achieved a ideal 158.3 passer rating for a fourth time in his 15-year career.

Best diversion ever, Ben?

“Well, if you’re looking during stats — probably,” Roethlisberger said. “But, we know what? Guys make plays. I’m usually gonna be as good as a linemen are and a guys creation a plays for me.”

Wearing their Color Rush “Dark Knight” uniforms — you’ll remember Batman and Bane once tore adult Heinz Field — a Steelers (6-2-1) indispensable small time to spin a lights out on a Panthers even after Carolina began a diversion by rupturing by a Pittsburgh invulnerability for 75 yards and a touchdown on a opening drive.

Pittsburgh merely responded by scoring 24 uninterrupted points, including dual touchdowns on a dual plays after a Panthers’ initial possession: a 75-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to JuJu Smith-Schuster followed by linebacker Vince Williams’ 17-yard touchdown off a Cam Newton interception on a successive snap.

The feat extended a Steelers’ AFC North lead over Cincinnati (5-3) to a full game, while giving them a fourth-best record in a discussion streamer into a weekend. The Panthers (6-3) fell 1½ games behind a NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints, and could shortly face a plea from behind by a boiling Atlanta Falcons.

“It’s a good feeling to (beat) a good football team,” pronounced Roethlisberger.

Three other things we learned:

1. This was a initial time in Pittsburgh’s prohibited strain that RB James Conner didn’t rush for during slightest 100 yards (65 yards, TD) — mostly since he didn’t need to, and also since he was evaluated for a concussion in a second half. Big Ben widespread a resources among his weapons unusually well — including a 53-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown, who somehow wound adult single-covered by Carolina rookie CB Donte Jackson, that put a Steelers adult 31-14 going into a half. Of course, a Pittsburgh offense could be altered drastically in a entrance days with all-pro RB Le’Veon Bell coming to react a group by Tuesday’s deadline to news if he wants to play this season.

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2. Newton and Carolina RB Christian McCaffrey looked staid to have their approach with a Steelers formed on a initial march. McCaffrey racked adult 60 of a 75 yards, capping it off with a 20-yard scoring pass from Newton, who’s carrying a discuss coming his 2015 MVP effort. But a Pittsburgh invulnerability has been resurgent during a team’s winning strain and fast buckled down, starting with Williams’ collect six, and kept a Panthers’ star twin mostly in check (though McCaffrey did also measure a cosmetic TD in a second quarter, he usually totaled 78 yards after his initial touchdown). The Steelers’ special teams also got into a act. K Chris Boswell drilling a 50-yard margin goal, and a coverage section forced a Curtis Samuel fail on a kickoff during a finish of a third entertain that set adult another TD to start a final period. Bottom line: Dominant group bid nearby a connection of a Three Rivers.

3. Not a really noted night for Pittsburgh native, Pitt and Carnegie Mellon alum and former Steelers minority owner David Tepper, who bought a Panthers from ashamed prototype Jerry Richardson progressing this year and roamed a sideline before kickoff. Still, he’s got a good group that simply got steamrolled on an off night. However a Panthers do need to learn how to overcome on a highway given they’ve never won a playoff diversion divided from Charlotte in a Cam Newton era. They’re 5-0 during Bank of America Stadium this year, though only 1-3 divided from it.

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Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

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