The Pittsburgh Steelers weren't nearly as pleased, unsatisfied after their 21-17 preseason victory over the Panthers because the first-team offense continued to struggle.
But Ben Roethlisberger, who was once again out of sync and failed to lead the first-team offense to a single touchdown this preseason, was adamant the Steelers will get it worked out.
"I've told you 100 times, I'm not concerned yet. I'll let you know when I am and I don't think that is going to happen," he said after going 2-of-6 for 24 yards in just over one quarter of play.
"We haven't run a lot of plays that fit me, like getting out of the pocket."
Nothing seemed to fit Roethlisberger against the Panthers, who sacked him once and constantly pressured him. He led the Steelers to just one first down, and had no rhythm with his receivers -- either throwing short of them, or over their heads on his attempts.
That left it up to Charlie Batch, who struggled for most of his three quarters before finally giving the Steelers a spark.
Batch threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Sean Morey with 1:35 to play, scrambling out of pressure on fourth-and-6 to complete the play.
|Sean Morey caught the game-winning TD pass for the Steelers.|
Batch's late touchdown spoiled Davis' first game in 10 months.
In his long-awaited debut, he carried the ball five times for 17 yards in a very brief appearance designed only to test his surgically repaired right knee.
He received a standing ovation after his first carry, a 4-yard surge up the middle. He later moved the Panthers to the Pittsburgh 3 on an 8-yard run.
"I was kind of anxious," Davis said. "Everything felt real good, I felt no pain. It was great to be back out there. It's been a long road."
"I was just trying to get myself into the end zone," he said. "I wanted it, but I'll take my steps as they come."
So will the Panthers, who went into the game only wanting to see the first-team offense score and give Davis one quick look. Both accomplished, the starters were pulled after just one series.
"It was good to have Stephen Davis back in there," Delhomme said. "He hit some holes well and we were able to punch it in for a score. That was the big thing, a nice drive on the first drive and we get a touchdown."
The Steelers played their first team for the entire first quarter, and Cowher blamed part of the offense's struggles on a sloppy line.
"I think their defensive line played a lot harder than our offensive line did," Cowher said. "I don't think (Ben) had a whole lot of time in that game, and at times when he did, he wasn't able to connect."
In fairness to Roethlisberger, the Steelers were down three running backs against the Panthers. Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis are both out with injuries, leaving second-year player Willie Parker as the projected opening-day starter. Not wanting to risk injury to Parker, the Steelers sat him, too.
So Verron Hayes and
He finished with 65 yards on 22 carries and scored Pittsburgh's only touchdown, a 1-yard run to cap a drive led by Batch that tied the score 7-7 midway through the second quarter.
Batch finished 16-of-29 for 182 yards, one touchdown and one interception.