PITTSBURGH — The Steelers remained hotter than a blast furnace, extending their winning streak to five games Thursday night by mashing the Panthers — they entered the game on a three-game win streak of their own — 52-21.
Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger completed 22 of 25 throws for 328 yards and five touchdowns to five different receivers. He achieved a perfect 158.3 passer rating for the fourth time in his 15-year career.
Best game ever, Ben?
“Well, if you’re looking at stats — probably,” Roethlisberger said. “But, you know what? Guys make plays. I’m only gonna be as good as the linemen are and the guys making the plays for me.”
Wearing their Color Rush “Dark Knight” uniforms — you’ll recall Batman and Bane once tore up Heinz Field — the Steelers (6-2-1) needed little time to turn the lights out on the Panthers even after Carolina began the game by slicing through the Pittsburgh defense for 75 yards and a touchdown on the opening drive.
Pittsburgh merely responded by scoring 24 consecutive points, including two touchdowns on the two plays after the 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 the subsequent snap.
The victory extended the Steelers’ AFC North lead over Cincinnati (5-3) to a full game, while giving them the fourth-best record in the conference heading into the weekend. The Panthers (6-3) fell 1½ games behind the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints, and could soon face a challenge from behind by the scorching Atlanta Falcons.
“It’s a good feeling to (beat) a good football team,” said…