After looking to establish themselves as one of the best teams in the NFL, Carolina went into Pittsburgh 6-2. With a record that included a win against the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles that tied the largest comeback in franchise history (17 points), the Panthers left Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field tying for the worst loss in franchise history with a 31-point defeat to the tune of 52-21. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger set a NFL record with his fourth career game with a perfect quarterback rating, while Carolina running back Christian McCaffery finished with three scores on the night.
The loss however says more about the Thursday Night Football format. When playing on a short week in which the road team has played the prior Sunday, the point differential has been -27 points per game. The Panthers had previously played host to division rival Tampa Bay on Sunday, winning 42-28. Throughout Thursday’s game, the Panthers defense looked tired and was unable to slow down running back James Connor or the Steelers’ receiving corps, which scored five times through the air on the Eric Reid-led secondary. But despite the score Carolina remains one of the top teams in the NFL. It was a night they would love to forget but with extra time to prepare for the Detroit Lions, the Panthers will have ample opportunity to refocus and continue their march to the playoffs.