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PITTSBURGH (AP) — No one needs to explain this math to the Pittsburgh Steelers: It's easier to get to the Super Bowl by winning two games rather than three.
On a short week with no real practice following a tough loss, the Steelers were determined not to get distracted and lose to the poor-record Carolina Panthers. Do that, and they might be adding an extra work week to their playoff schedule.
"It was huge for us," nose tackle Casey Hampton said following Pittsburgh's businesslike 27-3 victory on Thursday night. "If you get a bye, it gets you closer to the Super Bowl. Anything can happen in the playoffs, and you want to play the least games as possible."
Maybe that's why the Steelers (11-4) put away the Panthers (2-12) in about the least time possible. Ben Roethlisberger's deep throws resulted in a touchdown, set up another and pushed the Steelers into a 20-0 halftime lead, and the Panthers had no real chance after that.
Not with an offense that was outgained 408-119. Not with a defense that tightened up to stop the run, somehow overlooking that the Steelers' offense runs through Roethlisberger.
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