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Backup Charlie Batch Stuns M&T Bank Stadium

Posted Dec 2, 2012

Third-string QB Charlie Batch surprisingly orchestrated a fourth-quarter comeback.

As soon as the Steelers’ game-winning field goal went through the uprights, quarterback Charlie Batch buried his head in Ben Roethlisberger’s shoulder for a long embrace.

The 37-year-old, third-string quarterback beat the Ravens – at M&T Bank Stadium.

While Ravens players said they weren’t surprised, safety Ed Reed didn’t walk that line directly.

“It’s not surprising at all – maybe a little bit,” Reed said afterwards, laughing at his reversal of thought. “Charlie Batch is a professional.”

Batch threw three interceptions last week in Cleveland. He didn’t have a flawless game in Baltimore either, but he was good enough to win and directed the Steelers to 10 fourth-quarter points.

Batch finished 25-of-36 for 276 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, for a quarterback rating of 89.6.

Batch’s 276 passing yards are the most he’s thrown since 2001 when he was still a starter for the Detroit Lions. In more than a decade since, he had started just eight games.

“Played very well. He did a good job,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “Charlie’s always been a good quarterback. We had a lot of respect for him going into the game.”

While Batch hasn’t had the most experience lately, he has been in the league for 15 seasons. He also faced the Ravens in 2010 as a fill-in starter for Roethlisberger, so he had some familiarity with playing against Baltimore.

“He’s a professional quarterback,” safety Bernard Pollard said. “He’s on the roster for a reason. He can make throws.”

The Ravens did a good job on Batch in the first half.

They limited him to just 9-of-16 for only 57 yards. Batch was off with some of his throws, including missing wide-open wide receiver Mike Wallace for what would have been a touchdown near the end of the first half.

But Batch found rhythm, open receivers and plenty of time to throw in the second half. He threw for 219 yards in the second half alone.

Batch got the second half off to a strong start by finding Miller (five catches, 97 yards) open down the middle for a 43-yard gain. Miller got behind the Ravens’ linebackers and found a seam in a zone defense. Batch even threw a block on a 16-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Dwyer to cap the drive.

The veteran quarterback found wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders open for a 17-yard gain in the fourth quarter, then whipped the touchdown just past the Ravens’ fingertips for the 7-yard score to Miller to re-tie the game with seven minutes, 37 seconds left.

“They were just hitting us in the right spots,” outside linebacker Paul Kruger said. “They were finding the weaknesses in our defense. It just seemed like we couldn’t get in a good rhythm.”

Reed was asked how so many receivers got wide open during the game.

He said Batch moved the ball around well and had some pump fakes. He also didn’t discount the fact that Roethlisberger was in his ear, and said the Steelers had a strong game plan.

“We’ve got to be better about what we’re doing schematically,” Reed said. “They schemed us up on some things.”

The Ravens pass rush didn’t get to Batch often either, despite going against an offensive line missing its starting right tackle Mike Adams and left guard Willie Colon. Pittsburgh moved Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey to left guard and had a seventh-round rookie at right tackle.

Baltimore sacked Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers six times last week, but sacked Batch just twice. They hit him six times.

Baltimore was often stacking the box to defend against the run, especially after Pittsburgh had success on the ground early in the game.

Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo said the Steelers did a good job of keeping Baltimore’s base defense on the field, not allowing them to substitute in some of their more defined pass rushers because of the formations they used.

“They just did a great job of blocking us up front,” defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said.

“Sometimes they had max protection, and sometimes they didn’t. We just didn’t do a great job of converting. I think we were playing a little bit more [to defend] the run game, and they did a great job of mixing it up.”

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