Panthers rout Steelers backups 34-9 to conclude preseason

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — 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.

COLTS 27, LIONS 17

DETROIT (AP) — Rookie Sam Ehlinger was knocked out of the preseason finale with a knee injury, delivering another hit on the Indianapolis Colts’ depth chart at quarterback.

With Carson Wentz recovering from foot surgery, Ehlinger is competing with second-year quarterback Jacob Eason to possibly take the team’s first snap in two weeks when the season opens.

Ehlinger was hurt in the first half after he was 3 for 3 for 63 yards, including a 60-yard pass after escaping a sack, and had a 14-yard run. Eason was 10 of 14 for 74 yards.

To keep Eason healthy for Week 1, the Colts let 28-year-old Brett Hundley finish the game under center and he took full advantage.

Hundley threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Deon Jackson and the rookie running back rushed for a tying, 2-point conversion. A few snaps later, linebacker Curtis Bolton intercepted David Blough’s pass to set up Rodrigo Blankenship’s 42-yard field goal — his fourth of the game — that put Indy ahead 20-17.

Jackson converted a third down with a 42-yard touchdown run up the middle with 1:50 left, sealing a 3-0 preseason for the Colts.

Detroit fell to 0-3 under first-year coach Dan Campbell.

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More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

The Associated Press

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