Panthers smother Steelers backups 34-9 in preseason finale

CHARLOTTE, NC — Sam Darnold completed 19 of 25 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns, and the Carolina Panthers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-9 on Friday night in the preseason finale for both teams.

Darnold, who saw his most extensive action of the preseason, spent most of the first quarter under duress despite playing against a defense that was resting all of its starters.

But the 2018 No. 3 overall draft pick acquired this offseason from the New York Jets stayed calm and rebounded, finding rookie Terrace Marshall Jr. for a 13-yard touchdown pass and Robby Anderson for an 8-yard score before exiting at halftime. D.J. Moore caught six passes from Darnold for 48 yards.

Christian McCaffrey sat out, but the rest of Carolina’s offensive and defensive starters played the entire first half.

With this being the Steelers’ fourth preseason game — most teams played three — coach Mike Tomlin rested all but four starters, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson, and running back Najee Harris. Even backup QB Mason Rudolph got the night off.

Dwayne Haskins started and struggled, completing just 9 of 16 passes for 108 yards with one interception and one late touchdown on Pittsburgh’s final drive.

The Steelers open the regular season at Buffalo on Sept. 12.