Everyone expected the Baltimore Ravens to extend their home winning streak to 16 games, but one thing that could not be counted on was Pittsburgh’s 3rd string QB Charlie Batch putting all his heart into perhaps his last NFL start. Pittsburgh fought back from deficits of 13-3 and 20-13 in the fourth quarter to upset the Ravens, 23-20. It wasn’t a consistent stellar performance, but Charlie Batch led a cast of players who made plays at the right time to shock Baltimore.
7:00 remaining in the third quarter – Emmanuel Sanders fumbled what could have been a 72-yard touchdown pass near midfield when switching the ball from his right to left hand. He had lots of open turf and more than enough speed to outrun the Ravens secondary. Six plays later, Ray Rice made a cutback run that gave Baltimore the lead, 20-13. A 14-point swing….but it was overcome.
9:41 remaining in the fourth quarter – Ed Reed had just picked off Charlie Batch in the end zone when the Steelers were on the verge of at least narrowing the margin, if not tying the game. On a critical third down play, Baltimore QB Joe Flacco held on to the ball too long, which allowed James Harrison’s ferocious pass rush to result in a strip-sack. Ziggy Hood recovered the ball at the Baltimore 27-yard line. Four short plays later, Heath Miller took a short out route and turned it upfield with a desperate lunge to reach the pylon a fraction of a second before his foot touched down out of bounds. Tied score – 20,20…and the game was on.
The last 6:14 of the game – After being backed up by a 57-yard punt by Sam Koch, the Steelers drove just far enough using a balanced of runs to keep the clock running, along with efficient 5-for-5 passing by Batch for 45 yards to get into field goal range. Of course, the Ravens obliged by giving 15 yards of field position thanks to Paul Kruger’s unnecessary shot to Batch’s upper body after the ball had been released. The Ravens also had the misfortune of using their final time out due to an injury. Shaun Suisham kicked a 42-yard field goal through the uprights as time expired to beat the Ravens, 23-20
You Win Some, You Lose Some
Charlie Batch – After a dreadful performance last week at Cleveland, Batch showed a great deal of resiliency by being the team leader and willing Pittsburgh to victory. He was smart with the football and effective in relief of Ben Roethlisberger. He ended up being the lead blocker downfield on Jonathan Dwyer’s third quarter 16-yard TD run. Granted, Batch got picked off in the end zone once, and missed a WIIIIIIDE open Mike Wallace in the end zone at the end of the first half.
James Harrison – When the Steelers were down 20-13, it looked like one drive was all that separated Baltimore from victory. Harrison chose this opportune time to separate Joe Flacco from the ball. Talk about a momentum change. The game went from almost a sure Ravens win to a 50-50 contest.
Jonathan Dwyer – There were many runs where Dwyer didn’t get much, but he kept two hands on the ball and a couple of big runs when stopped at the line of scrimmage resulted in 10 points.
Heath Miller – I know I’ve said this before, but this tight end epitomizes Pittsburgh. He blocks, catches the ball in tight spaces, and puts forth maximum effort at all times…never more evident than his long-armed reach to tie the game at 20.
The O-Line – It was a makeshift line with no Mike Adams and no Willie Colon. Kelvin Beachum played fairly well, and Doug Legursky had his hands full at center with nose tackle Haloti Ngata. Having said that, Terrell Suggs, Paul Kruger, Ngata, and company only had two sacks on Batch and did not have Batch running for his life or on his back all that often.
Cortez Allen – After a first exceptional pass defense on a deep post pattern to Torrey Smith, Flacco dialed up another bomb downfield where Allen was forced to slow down Smith. He was later victimized on a 28-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin. Allen was pressed into service because Ike Taylor suffered a lower leg injury, the severity of which is uncertain.
Turnovers – Emmanuel Sanders’ fumble with no one in sight was an eyesore. Antonio Brown’s lateral pass to Will Johnson into coverage was unnecessary. Brown is not a quarterback, so he did not read the coverage. Keep it simple – see it before you throw it.
A Matter of Heart
If you watched the game in its entirety, you saw Charlie Batch in an emotional embrace Ben Roethlisberger at the end of the game. You can tell how much this game meant to Charlie – he deserves this moment in the sun.
About the Author
Written by Rob Stroup
I grew up in western Pennsylvania, so I have followed the Pittsburgh sports teams (Steelers, Penguins, Pirates) since the womb. It has become a tradition to make the yearly trek to a Steelers and Penguins game each year despite the distance. I hope to make writing a profession because I thoroughly enjoy attempting to paint a picture with words.