Panthers 15

(4-0, 2-0 away)

Steelers 13

(0-4, 0-2 home)

7:30 PM ET, August 31, 2006

Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA 

1 2 3 4 T
CAR 0 3 6 615
PIT 3 3 0 713

Kasay's fifth field goal gives Panthers perfect preseason

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Carolina Panthers proved something during a long night that featured almost no starters and plenty of not-so-good football: Their junior varsity is better than that of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

John Kasay kicked his fifth field goal on the final play of the game, a 29-yarder that finished an unbeaten Carolina preseason and a winless one for Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh as the Panthers won 15-13 Thursday night.

Cedric Humes scored the game's only touchdown with less than four minutes to play to give the Steelers their only lead on a night they rested nearly all of their regulars. But the Panthers drove from their 20 in the final two minutes to win it.

"I thought we played well, we just couldn't get into the end zone," said backup quarterback Brett Basanez, who led the decisive drive. "We just kept getting 3s, getting 3s. That's all about the defense -- any time you don't score a touchdown and come away with a win, it's all on them. The biggest thing is us winning this game and going 4-0 in the preseason."

The key play was a roughing-the-passer penalty on safety Tyrone Carter. It kept the decisive drive alive after Basanez had thrown incomplete on fourth-and-14 from the Carolina 32. Given a reprieve, Basanez later hit Justin McCullum for 20 yards to the Pittsburgh 11 to give Kasay the chance to win it.

"It was outstanding the way Basanez took them down the field," said star receiver Steve Smith, who didn't play.

Omar Jacobs, the Steelers' No. 4 quarterback, had been ineffective before finding Walter Young on a 46-yard completion to set up the touchdown with 3:41 remaining. Humes, a fourth-team running back who probably won't make the roster, scored on the next play to finish a 76-yard, four-play drive in a game that featured little offense otherwise.

"I think I had a good outing," said Jacobs, who was 13-of-19 for 179 yards. "I was just hoping that would be the winning touchdown. At least I had a chance to showcase my talent."

Almost none of the Steelers' top players did that as coach Bill Cowher rested his regulars with the Sept. 7 season opener against Miami only a week away. The offensive line starters played a few downs, but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and running back Willie Parker never left the sideline and the defense opened the game with backups at every position.

Cowher said beforehand he didn't think it mattered if the Super Bowl champion Steelers went winless in the preseason for only the second time since 1965, and they did. Even some of the backups didn't play much: Steelers backup QB Charlie Batch was pulled after throwing four passes and Shane Boyd, who isn't likely to make the team, threw three.

"But it doesn't mean anything," reserve defensive end Rian Wallace said. "It's meaningless, but a lot of guys got a chance to play in case they're needed if a regular goes down."

That didn't mean Cowher took the night off, as he could be seen screaming at backup lineman Chris Kemoeatu after he was called for a face mask penalty while making a tackle on a Carolina fumble recovery.

With so few regulars on the field, the play was sloppy and uneven, with six fumbles, an interception, 188 yards of penalties and numerous execution errors. Only the field goal kickers were perfect. Kasay hit from 54, 40, 38, 35 and 29 yards in that order, and Pittsburgh's Jeff Reed was good from 40 and 27 yards in the first half.

Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme played one series, completed two passes for 6 yards, then was sacked on third down and never returned. He gave way to Stefan LeFors, who did nearly as much for the Steelers' offense as his own despite going 6-of-8 for 86 yards. LeFors fumbled twice, with Ricardo Colclough recovering each time, but the Steelers converted the turnovers into only a field goal.

The Steelers did give backup running back Duce Staley lots of carries -- 19 for 46 yards in by far his most extensive playing time of the preseason. He was still carrying midway through the fourth quarter. Staley was expected to reprise the retired Jerome Bettis' role as a short-yaradge and situational back, but he did not have a good training camp.

The top receivers for both teams never got off the bench the entire preseason, with Smith (hamstring and ingrown toenail) and Pittsburgh's Hines Ward (hamstring) sitting out again.

"It really doesn't matter if you don't play a lot," Smith said. "You'll be rusty after the preseason anyway because you're not in enough to get into a rhythm."

Game notes

The Steelers last went 0-4 in the preseason in 1987. Before that, they were 0-5 in 1965. ... The Panthers also went 4-0 in 2003 and 2004. ... The teams meet again during the season, Dec. 17 in Charlotte. ... Roethlisberger played only four series in three games. ... The Panthers open Sept. 10 at home against Atlanta.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

pitFG2:24Jeff Reed 32 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 12 yds, 3:19
pitFG4:21Jeff Reed 19 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 30 yds, 6:15
carFG1:48John Kasay 47 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 6 plays, 43 yds, 2:30
carFG9:04John Kasay 32 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 10 plays, 47 yds, 6:00
carFG3:11John Kasay 30 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 31 yds, 3:27
carFG13:35John Kasay 27 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 17 yds, 2:07
pitTD3:44Cedric Humes, 4 yd run (Jeff Reed kick is good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 76 yds, 1:06
carFG0:04John Kasay 21 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yds, 1:47