CHARLOTTE — The Steelers on Sunday did to the Panthers what the Panthers have been doing to people lately.
The fact that the formula was familiar doesn't make it any easier to swallow for a team that was on a bit of a roll.
The Steelers, playing a quarterback they didn't expect, ran the ball and completed just enough passes to stay on the field, leaving an opponent winded at the end and wondering how a 24-16 loss landed on their doorsteps.
It was extremely familiar to what the Panthers just did to the Seahawks, only in reverse.
And while the Panthers can still think about the playoffs (especially if they get some help from the Bengals against the Buccaneers later Sunday), the way they played extinguished some hope.
The Panthers are now 5-9, but the more troubling number was the 156 rushing yards allowed and the 36:11-23:49 time of possession edge.
The Steelers took control of this one right out of the halftime break, with a 21-play, 91-yard touchdown drive, which took 11:43 off the clock.
Mitch Trubisky's second quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line was successful, leaving the Panthers to trudge off the field looking a little gassed.
At that point, the Steelers had a 21-7 lead, and it had seemed like hours since the Panthers made a play to impact the game.
While they had been able to run the ball effectively under interim coach Steve Wilks, the Steelers put the brakes on that.
The Panthers were held to 21 yards on the ground, their fewest since they had 10 in the 2012 season opener, and couldn't create the kind of forward-leaning style they've enjoyed in recent weeks.
D'Onta Foreman was held to 9 yards on 10 carries.
— The Panthers are still alive for a playoff berth, thanks to being in the NFC South. If the Bengals beat the Bucs in the late-afternoon game, the Panthers would still be a game out of first with three to play (including one at Tampa).
But unless they get back to the style they were playing the last two weeks, when they were able to run at will (like the 46 attempts for 223 yards at Seattle), their chances diminish greatly.
— The Panthers lost cornerback CJ Henderson early in the game to an ankle injury, and the Steelers took advantage.
The passing game Pittsburgh did get from an efficient Mitch Trubisky was largely in the direction of replacement cornerback Keith Taylor Jr..
That was what happened on a pair of third downs late in the fourth quarter when the Steelers were able to effectively ice the game.
The Steelers finished the game 12-of-16 on third down.
— The Panthers also allowed four sacks on the day, after they had protected much better lately. They had allowed just two sacks in Seattle, and none the previous week in Denver, but the Steelers were able to drop Sam Darnold in some key situations.