The Series: With the 27-3 victory, the Steelers defeated the Panthers for the fourth consecutive time and lead the all-time series 4-1. All five meetings between Carolina and Pittsburgh have occurred in December. The Panthers finished the year with an 0-4 mark against AFC North opponents and have an all-time 5-7 regular-season record versus AFC North teams.
Big Chill: The temperature at kickoff was 27 degrees with snow flurries, making it the third-coldest game in Panthers history. The two coldest games Carolina has ever played were in temperatures of 3 degrees in the NFC Championship at Green Bay (1/12/97) and 25 degrees at Cleveland (12/1/02).
Prime Time Panthers: Carolina's all-time record fell to 10-15 in prime time during the regular season with the loss. This represented the Panthers' third-ever appearance on the NFL Network after previously hosting Dallas (12/22/07) and Miami (11/19/09). Of their 25 prime time games, 12 have been on Sunday night, nine on Monday night, two on Saturday night and two on Thursday night.
For Starters: Dante Rosario started for the sixth time this season as the Panthers began in a two tight end set. Rookie defensive tackle Andre Neblett made his first NFL start as Carolina opened with five defensive linemen.
Panther Cub Debuts: Defensive tackle Corvey Irvin made his NFL debut after spending his rookie season in 2009 on injured reserve and the first 13 games this year on the Panthers' practice squad. Signed to the active roster on Dec. 14, he was inactive last week versus Arizona (12/19/10).
Fullback Rashawn Jackson also played in his first NFL game. The undrafted rookie free agent had been on Carolina's practice squad the entire season before being promoted to the active roster on Wednesday (12/22/10).
Inactives: The following eight players were inactive for the Panthers: safety Gerald Alexander, wide receiver Armanti Edwards, fullback Tony Fiammetta, cornerback Chris Gamble, defensive tackle Ed Johnson, center Chris Morris, quarterback Keith Null (third quarterback) and cornerback R.J. Stanford.
Sakrete Sacks: The Panthers equaled their season high of three sacks - achieved six times - and have collected 17 sacks in the last six games.
Defensive end Charles Johnson tied the franchise record with a sack in six consecutive games. Kevin Greene previously accomplished the feat in 1998, registering a sack in the first six games of the season.
Johnson equaled his single-game best of two sacks, previously achieved three times - most recently at Cleveland (11/28/10). He took down Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a 12-yard loss in the second quarter and then again for a 7-yard loss in the fourth quarter. The fourth-year player has corralled eight sacks in the last six games and leads the team with a career-high 11.5 sacks this year after notching 10 sacks in his first three seasons combined.
Johnson became the fifth player in team history to compile 10 or more sacks in a season, joining Greene (1996, 1998, 1999), Lamar Lathon (1996), Julius Peppers (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009) and Mike Rucker (2002, 2003, 2004).
Defensive tackle Derek Landri dropped Roethlisberger for an 8-yard loss on the last offensive play of the first half to log his third sack of the year.
During the 2010 season, Sakrete, a leader in concrete and concrete-related products, is donating $100 to the BVC Playground Build for every Carolina sack. Through 15 games, the Panthers have 30 sacks, raising $3,000.
Takeaway/Giveaway: Carolina forced two turnovers on two fumbles. Defensive tackle Derek Landri fell on a fumbled snap by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the second quarter, and linebacker Nic Harris recovered a mishandled handoff by Steelers running back Isaac Redman in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers turned it over twice on a fumble and an interception to finish with an even turnover ratio. The two takeaways resulted in no points for Carolina, and the two giveaways led to seven points for Pittsburgh. The Panthers have a negative-seven turnover ratio this season, compiling a 1-5 record when having a positive turnover margin, an 0-2 record when being even in turnover margin, and a 1-6 record when having a negative turnover margin.
Defense Yields Yards: Carolina yielded 408 total net yards (115 rushing and 293 passing), equaling the second-most yards allowed this season. The 293 net passing yards surrendered marked the most the Panthers have given up through the air this season.
Offense Grounded: The Panthers gained 119 total net yards (74 rushing and 45 passing), the second-lowest output in team history. The team record for fewest net yards is 113 at Buffalo (9/10/95).
Carolina picked up seven first downs (four rushing and three passing), equaling the second fewest in team history - previously accomplished twice, most recently versus the New York Jets (10/28/01). The team record for fewest first downs is six at Buffalo (9/10/95).
The three passing first downs matched the third fewest in a game - previously achieved seven times, most recently versus Baltimore (11/21/10). The team record for fewest passing first downs is one at Atlanta (12/14/06) followed by two at Buffalo (9/10/95).
The Panthers posted a 100 percent efficiency rating in the red zone, scoring a field goal on their only trip inside the Steelers' 20-yard line. Carolina has been successful on 20-of-31 red zone opportunities, scoring nine touchdowns and 11 field goals for a 64.5 percent conversion rate and 29.0 percent touchdown conversion rate, this season.
Team Leaders: Rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen completed 10-of-23 passes for 72 yards and no touchdowns with one interception to produce a 33.2 quarterback rating in addition to being sacked four times. In 12 games with nine starts this season, he has completed 138-of-266 passes for 1,376 yards and two touchdowns with eight interceptions.
Running back Jonathan Stewart rushed for a team-high 71 yards on 18 carries and leads the Panthers with 739 yards on 165 attempts with two touchdowns this season. Wide receiver Steve Smith paced Carolina with three receptions for 17 yards and ranks first on the team with 46 catches for 554 yards and two touchdowns this year.
The Specialists: Kicker John Kasay connected on his only field goal attempt - converting from 27 yards. He has been successful on 24-of-28 field goal attempts and perfect on all 16 of his extra point opportunities for a team-leading 88 points this season.
Punter Jason Baker generated a gross average of 34.0 yards and net average of 30.3 yards with two inside the 20, one touchback and long of 45 yards on eight punts. His gross average decreased to 42.6 yards and his net average fell to 36.6 yards with 21 punts inside the 20, six touchbacks and long of 57 yards this season.
Kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd did not place either of his two kickoffs in the end zone. He has reached the end zone on 37-of-50 kickoffs with 11 touchbacks this season.
Return Policy: Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn returned two punts for 18 yards. His 19-yard return in the fourth quarter set up a field goal. Munnerlyn has registered a 10.9-yard punt return average on 30 returns with a long of 37 yards this season.
Running back Mike Goodson brought back a career-high six kickoffs for 132 yards. He bettered his previous best of five returns, accomplished five times - most recently versus Atlanta (12/12/10). Goodson has generated a 22.2-yard kickoff return average on 46 returns with a long of 46 yards this year.
Scrap Iron: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Mike Wallace became just the second quarterback and second receiver to post 300-yard passing and 100-yard receiving games, respectively, against the Panthers this season. Roethlisberger tallied 320 yards with one touchdown on 22-of-32 passing, while Wallace accumulated 104 yards with one touchdown on four catches. They joined quarterback Joe Flacco with 301 yards for Baltimore (11/21/10) and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald with 125 yards for Arizona (12/19/10).