Whipping winds, blowing snow, frigid temperatures--in Pittsburgh, they call it Steelers weather. It apparently blew the Carolina Panthers right out of the playoffs.
As a second-half snow flurry made passing all but impossible, the Steelers turned to a four-wheel-drive offense led by Jerome Bettis's 137 yards to win, 30-20, today and all but ended the Panthers' playoff hopes.
"I had my snow tires on," Bettis said.
Travis Davis scored on a 102-yard fumble return and the Steelers (6-9) survived two long touchdown passes from Steve Beuerlein to Patrick Jeffers before the snow started in ending a six-game losing streak.
Bettis finished his second 100-yard game this season with an eight-yard touchdown run with 2 minutes 26 seconds to play. He surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the fourth successive season.
"I asked him after the game, 'Who ordered this weather?' " Carolina safety Mike Minter said. "He kept running harder and harder. You let him get started and there's no way a defense can stop him."
The Panthers (7-8) had won four of five and would have advanced to the playoffs if they had won their last two games and the New York Giants lost at least once. The Giants had lost today to Minnesota.
Now, because of tiebreakers, the Panthers have only an infinitesimally slim mathematical shot that requires, among other factors, the Giants to tie Dallas next week.