When Roger Goodell announced that Ben Roethlisberger was going to be suspended for 4 games, I heard even die-hard Steelers fans saying that the team would be lucky to go 1-3 in his absence. Many argued that 0-4 was much more likely. Instead, the Steelers are 3-0 and the doubters are nowhere to be found.
The Steelers beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-13, and improved their record to an NFL-leading 3-0. More importantly, the offense showed up, just in time for next week’s game against the hated Baltimore Ravens.
The Steelers were led by Charlie Batch…….Yeah, that’s right; Charlie Batch. You remember him, don’t you? He’s the Steelers 4th string quarterback who was supposed to be cut at the end of training camp, but who had to be retained because Big Ben was suspended for 4 games. 35 years old. Hadn’t been a regular starter since he played for the Detroit Lions. Yeah, THAT Charlie Batch.
Batch got off to a bad start. His first pass of the day was intercepted by the Bucs’ Aqib Talib. But after that, he calmed down and led the Steelers to one of their biggest offensive outburst in a very long time. Even when Big Ben is playing, the Steelers seldom reach 38 points. And based on what we saw last week against Tennessee, most fans probably thought the Steelers would be lucky to score 10 points this week.
Instead, they saw an offensive explosion like we don’t see very often from the Black and Gold. Batch connected with Mike Wallace later in the first quarter for a 46 yard touchdown pass. He enjoyed that so much that he decided to do it again, throwing a 41 yard TD to Wallace in the 2nd quarter. Then to add a little insurance, Batch hit Hines Ward for a 9 yard touchdown catch later in the quarter.
Not to be outdone, Rashard Mendenhall decided to show what he can do. Mendenhall rushed for a touchdown in the second quarter, and finished the game with 143 yards rushing on 19 attempts. That’s 7.5 yards per carry.
The Steelers finished the game with 201 rushing yards. That will certainly destroy the confidence of an opposing defense.
And lest we forget, the Steelers defense also played a huge role in the game. They forced 3 more turnovers in this game, and now have a league leading 10 turnovers. The most exciting of those turnovers was an interception by Brett Keisel that he returned 79 yards for a touchdown. Keisel’s interception reminded me of James Harrison during his Super Bowl interception return. I didn’t think that either player was going to have enough gas in their tank to actually make it all the way to the endzone, and both players needed oxygen afterward.
The NFL schedule said that this was going to be an away game for the Steelers, but obviously the schedule was wrong. The Steelers wore their home black jerseys, and there were clearly more Steelers fans in the crowd than there were Bucs fans. If that doesn’t make it a home game, I don’t know what does.
Of course, Steeler Nation takes great pride in taking over other teams’ stadiums. And we certainly did that in Tampa Bay. I don’t know about you, but each time I see a sea of black and gold in another team’s stadium, I get goosebumps. I just love seeing that!
So despite the expectations of most “experts”, the Steelers go into week 4 with a 3-0 record. Next up are the Ratbirds (booo!!!!!), who struggled to beat the Cleveland Browns today. Based on what both teams displayed today, 4-0 is definitely feasible for the Steelers.
Here we go Steelers, here we go!!!!!
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