PITTSBURGH — So close to securing a division title, the Steelers didn't need any tension, drama or surprises after a short week of preparation. The Panthers didn't provide any.
Ben Roethlisberger threw and ran for touchdowns to lead Pittsburgh past Carolina 27-3 Thursday. Pittsburgh, which rebounded from Sunday's 22-17 loss to the Jets, can clinch the AFC North and a first-round bye if Baltimore loses at Cleveland on Sunday. It also can clinch by beating Cleveland in the regular-season finale.
"There's some hardware out there for us, the AFC North title, and that, more than anything, is what we're focused on," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "It's good to be in the clubhouse before everyone else this weekend with a necessary win."
The Steelers outgained the Panthers 408-119. Up 3-0, they scored 17 during the second quarter. Three plays after Bryant McFadden intercepted Jimmy Clausen, Roethlisberger hit Mike Wallace for a 43-yard score.
Emmanuel Sanders' 35-yard catch set up Rashard Mendenhall's 1-yard touchdown run with 1:54 left. And after a three-and-out, the Steelers drove 43 yards for Shaun Suisham's 29-yard field goal with 39 seconds left.
Roethlisberger's 1-yard run in the third made it 27-0.
McNabb's agent adds fuel to simmering feud
ASHBURN, Va. — The feud between Donovan McNabb and Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator (and son) Kyle Shanahan continued thanks to the quarterback's agent.
"Donovan has suggested modifications to Kyle's offense based on intricacies Donovan has learned in his NFL career," Fletcher Smith said in a statement. "For example, Donovan has asked all year that the team run more screen passes to help manage the pass rush more effectively. Ironically, Kyle decided to employ Donovan's suggestions after he unceremoniously benched him on Sunday."
Mike Shanahan also issued a statement.
"When the team was 5-8 and mathematically out of the playoffs, I made the decision to evaluate our other two quarterbacks," he said. "This was not personal, but strictly professional."
McNabb, who has been told he won't play again this season, declined to comment.
49ers change QBs: San Francisco is going back to Troy Smith at quarterback. But coach Mike Singletary said he won't hesitate to put in Alex Smith, who started the past two games, if the situation calls for it.
Addai to return: Colts running back Joseph Addai expects to play Sunday after missing eight games with a nerve injury in his left shoulder. Coach Jim Caldwell didn't say if he would start or how many carries he would get. Also, linebacker Clint Session likely will play after missing seven games with a broken right arm and dislocated right elbow.
Broncos: Linebacker Elvis Dumervil was cited for assault and disturbing the peace at Invesco Field on Oct. 24, when Denver faced Oakland. His lawyer said Dumervil, out for the season with a torn chest muscle, forgot his credentials and a guard wouldn't allow him into a players' parking lot despite showing his driver's license. A hearing is set for Jan. 11.
Browns: Starting quarterback Colt McCoy (stomach flu) and leading rusher Peyton Hillis (sore left knee) practiced after taking Wednesday off.
Jets: Coach Rex Ryan said quarterback Mark Sanchez's sore right shoulder is worse than first believed but he expects him to start. Sanchez, hurt Sunday, was limited at practice for the second straight day. An MRI exam showed no structural damage.
Vikings: Quarterback Brett Favre missed his second straight practice with a concussion sustained Monday. But coach Leslie Frazier did not rule him out for Sunday. Also, running back Adrian Peterson, who sat out Monday with a bruised thigh, hopes to play the final two games. He ran for the first time Thursday but likely will be a game-time decision.
Discipline: Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield was fined $7,500 for using his helmet to hit Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on Monday. Cutler needed stitches to close a wound on his chin but remained in the game.