Pittsburgh quarterback Byron Leftwich, scheduled to start the regular season for the Steelers while Ben Roethlisberger serves a suspension, left the game early in the second quarter with an injury to his left knee.
He was taken to a hospital for tests. If Leftwich cannot play in the regular-season opener against Atlanta, Dixon would be the likely replacement.
Dixon's pass to Sanders gave Pittsburgh a 10-3 lead with 9:09 to play in the second quarter. It was the only pass Dixon threw in the game.
The rest of the scoring for both teams came on field goals -- four of them coming from Pittsburgh's Jeff Reed.
Roethlisberger, who was allowed to play in pre-season games, started the contest and went 4-of-6 for 39 yards.
Carolina (1-3) managed just 123 yards of offense. The Panthers begin their regular season at the New York Giants.