The Pittsburgh Steelers finished off the preseason with a 17-16 win over the Carolina Panthers. The fourth and final preseason game is never played with a full arsenal, and Mike Tomlin held out most of the starters, and even second stringers on Thursday night at Heinz Field. Charlie Batch got the start under center and the veteran connected with Emmanuel Sanders on a 37-yard touchdown to open the scoring less than three minutes into the game. Batch dropped a perfect pass over double coverage right into Sanders for the quick strike. The third-year man out of SMU held on as he went to the ground in the end zone.
Jerrod Johnson came on in relief of Batch and threw a touchdown of his own in the fourth quarter. Johnson found tight end Wesleye Saunders for a six-yard touchdown. The tight end ran a nice route and pulled in the short pass for what proved to be the winning score. Saunders will now go away for at least a month after having his appeal of a four-week suspension denied on Wednesday.
Perhaps the most exciting play of the game ended up not counting. Chris Rainey, who has certainly made an impression during the preseason, returned a punt more than 90 yards with just over six minutes remaining in the first quarter for what looked like the Steelers second score. Rainey put on some incredible shake as he burst through the first wave before kicking it outside. The play was called back for a late holding call, but the speedster from Florida's highlight would not be forgotten.
The Steelers will now cut the roster down to the final 53 on Friday and turn their attention to the Denver Broncos, who they open the season against on Sunday Night Football.