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Panthers fall to Steelers at home 24-16, still alive in playoff race

The Pittsburgh Steelers' defense stifled Sam Darnold and the Panthers all day to hand Carolina its fifth losing season in a row.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An effective defense and a formidable offense helped the Pittsburgh Steelers get the win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

The running game that the Panthers have come to heavily rely on under interim head coach Steve Wilks was fairly non-existent against the Steelers as Sam Darnold was unable to pull out the win using the passing game.

Pittsburgh's lackluster offense did just enough in the Week 15 contest to get a win over the Panthers 24-16.

The Steelers never trailed in the game, getting the game's first score on their first drive of the game with a Najee Harris 7-yard rushing touchdown.

Carolina answered with a touchdown drive of their own, capped off with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Darnold to Moore. The drive was highlighted by a 40-yard pass to Terrance Marshal Jr. on a 3rd and 13 to put the Panthers at the Pittsburgh 7-yard line.

That momentum was thwarted when Pittsburgh marched down the field on their next drive to go up 14-7 with a Jaylen Warren 2-yard rushing score in the second quarter.

The Panthers closed out the half with three consecutive three-and-out drives as the Steelers kept the lead 14-7 at halftime.

To open the second half, the Steelers went on another long drive. This one was a monstrous 21-play 91-yard drive that took nearly 12 minutes off the clock as Steelers quarterback Mitchell Trubisky sneaked up the middle for a one-yard touchdown.

The Panthers made it into the red zone on their next two possessions but could only come away with field goals, the second of which made it a one-score game at 21-13 with 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

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Carolina's defense was unable to come up with a stop, though, as the Steelers chewed up as much clock as they could before putting the game away with a field goal to ice the game at 24-13.

With the loss, the Panthers fall to 5-9 and have clinched their fifth losing season in a row. The defeat does not eliminate the Panthers from division-winning contention, though.

The Panthers remain second in the NFC South, a game and a half back from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) who have a Week 15 game against the Cincinnati Bengals (9-4). A loss for the Buccaneers would leave the Panthers just one game behind with still three games left in the season.

The New Orleans Saints (5-9) defeated the Atlanta Falcons (5-9) in Week 15 to effectively create a three-way tie for second place in the division. However, the Panthers hold the tiebreaker due to a better division record.

This article will be updated.

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