NFL Game Summary - Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay|
(Sunday, September 26th)
Final Score: Pittsburgh 38, Tampa Bay 13
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Charlie Batch threw three touchdown passes in
his first NFL start since 2007 and the Steelers rolled to a 38-13 victory over
Tampa Bay in the NFL's lone Week 3 matchup of undefeated teams.
The 35-year-old Batch got the call under center with a suspended Ben
Roethlisberger still unavailable and injuries to both Dennis Dixon and Byron
Leftwich. The veteran filled in admirably as a game-manager, hitting on 12-
of-17 throws for 186 yards, but also produced a pair of big plays with 46 and
41-yard touchdown tosses to Mike Wallace.
Wallace caught three passes for 100 yards, while Rashard Mendenhall gashed the
defense for 143 yards and a score on 19 touches for Pittsburgh (3-0), which
moved to 3-0 for the first time since 2007.
"You really have to tip your hat to Charlie Batch with what he was able to do
for us today. He played like a veteran. This guy hasn't had many
opportunities," said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. "We don't take these
(games) for granted. We came into a hostile environment. I expect them (the
team) to hold the standard, and the standard is winning."
Josh Freeman completed 20-of-31 passes for 184 yards with an interception that
was returned 79 yards for a touchdown by fleet-of-foot lineman Brett Keisel.
Freeman was later replaced by Josh Johnson, who made good on all six of his
pass attempts for 67 yards on Tampa Bay's lone touchdown drive.
Rookie LeGarrette Blount scored from a yard out on the first play after
the two-minute warning for the surprising Buccaneers (2-1), who started
the season with back-to-back wins for the first time since winning the NFC
South in 2005.
"Obviously (it) was a disappointing loss, (but) looking at the big picture
going into the bye (week) we are 2-1. There are a lot of things that are
positive in this first part of the season," said Buccaneers head coach Raheem
Morris. "We played a heavyweight today. They are more physical, more
aggressive and more opportunistic. We missed out on a lot of opportunities in
the first half and weren't able to capitalize."
Batch's day started out on a sour note, as Aquib Talib intercepted a pass
intended for Wallace on the second play of the game leading to a 40-yard
Connor Barth field goal and a 3-0 Bucs lead.
On Pittsburgh's third series, Batch redeemed himself with a deep ball up the
seam to Wallace, who made a leaping grab in the end zone for a 46-yard score.
Tampa Bay put together 15-play, 74-yard drive at the end of the first quarter,
but it stalled at the five-yard line shortly into the second and Barth booted
a 24-yard field goal for a 7-6 game.
Batch came back to lead another three touchdown drives before halftime as
Pittsburgh built a 28-6 lead. It was Batch's 24-yard scramble on 3rd-and-6
that kept the first of three moving, and Heath Miller hauled in a 21-yard pass
over the middle to reach the three. Mendenhall then plowed across the goal
line to go up 14-6.
The visitors were back in the end zone in short order after Tampa turned it
over on a fumble near midfield. Two plays later, Batch threw to the back right
corner of the end zone for Wallace. The ball was tipped by Talib but right
into the waiting arms of Wallace for a 41-yard touchdown.
An efficient 11-play, 79-yard scoring drive to close out the half's scoring
saw Batch complete two third-down throws, including a nine-yard TD toss to
The Steelers defense did well to protect the lead from there and Jeff Reed
connected for the third quarter's only points with a 24-yard field goal.
The game was essentially put away on the first play of the fourth quarter when
Keisel took an interception 79 yards to the end zone with the help of some key
By the time Johnson took over and guided the Bucs on a 10-play, 68-yard
scoring march, the game was too far out of hand.
Batch is now 5-2 as a starter against the Bucs. He had two interceptions in
the game...Ward had three receptions for 34 yards and has a catch in 181
consecutive games, the fifth-longest streak in NFL history...The Steelers lead
the all-time series with Tampa, 8-1...It was the Steelers' first return visit
to Raymond James Stadium since winning Super Bowl XLIII in 2008 against
Arizona. The last regular season visit saw Pittsburgh come away with a 20-3
victory in December of 2006...Blount was at the head of the Tampa rushing game
with 27 yards on six attempts...Rookie wideout Mike Williams led Tampa Bay
with five catches for 55 yards...The Steelers host the Ravens next Sunday.
09/26 20:44:14 ET