CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Steelers rookie Joshua Dobbs promised his mother he’d score a touchdown and save her the football as a souvenir for her birthday.
He got her two.
Dobbs threw for one touchdown and ran for the winning score with 2 seconds left and the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Carolina Panthers 17-14 Thursday night in the preseason finale for both teams.
“I asked her what she wanted for her birthday and she told me, ‘I just want you to be safe and have a good game,’ in that order,” Dobbs said. “We did both today, so I will take that.”
Dobbs led the Steelers 53 yards on five plays in just 43 seconds and scored on a 1-yard run on a roll out to the right.
Dobbs, the Steelers’ third-string quarterback behind Ben Roethlisberger and Landry Jones, finished 16 of 23 for 212 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hunter.
Hunter entered the game battling with Sammie Coates for the sixth spot at wide receiver and had three catches for 75 yards. He showed a good burst of speed on a go-route down the right sideline, stretching his arms out to haul in a perfectly thrown pass for the score.
“I did some things well, but there are always things to improve on,” Dobbs said.
Terrell Watson ran for 89 yards on 19 carries for the Steelers.
Damiere Byrd hauled in his third touchdown reception of the preseason — a 13-yard catch from Joe Webb — in the back of the end zone for the Panthers. Byrd continued to make his case as Carolina’s fifth or sixth wide receiver. He had two TD catches in Carolina’s preseason opener against the Houston Texans.
“As a receiver, those opportunities don’t always come regardless of how much you play,” Byrd said. “It’s not up to you when you get the ball. Joe Webb made the call and had a great read. He put it up for me and I came down with it.”
Steelers CB Joe Haden did not play one day after signing a three-year, $27 million free agent contract on Wednesday. Haden said after the game one of the reasons he signed with the Steelers was because he wanted a chance to win a Super Bowl.
Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who hasn’t practiced much this summer, played most of the first half for the Steelers and had a sack to end a second-quarter drive.
Panthers Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen has restructured his contract, which could allow him to make an additional $2 million this season if he reaches certain incentives.
Steelers: Strong safety Jordan Dangerfield left the game in the first half with an ankle injury and did not return. … Rookie CB Cameron Sutton injured his hamstring.
Panthers: Second-round pick WR Curtis Samuel left the game with an ankle injury. … CB Teddy Williams injured his shoulder in the first quarter and did not return. … CB Zack Sanchez, who is competing for the team’s nickel back spot, left the game with a pulled groin.
After a soaking all day rain and a full game, the Panthers grounds crew has plenty of work to do get this field in shape for the North Carolina State-South Carolina college football game here on Saturday.
COOL HAND LUKE
Panthers safety Cole Luke is on the outside looking in at the 53-man roster, but had quite a game with 10 tackles and a forced fumble that saved a potential touchdown.
“Honestly, I just want to help my team get the win tonight and I want to help the people back home in Houston. My only mindset was to try to score and put points on the board with the offense.” Panthers RB Fozzy Whittaker, a Texas native, on his 4-yard touchdown.
Steelers: Open the regular season at Cleveland on Sept. 10.
Panthers: Open the regular season at San Francisco on Sept. 10.