Better Late Than Never

Here's Mike Prisuta's take on the heartwarming Charlie Batch story:

TAMPA – That's what an NFL quarterback does.

That's what an NFL quarterback is supposed to look like while doing what an NFL quarterback is supposed to do.

With Charlie Batch in charge, the Steelers' offense hummed on Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium.

With Batch under center the offense produced its first four regulation touchdowns of the season, including its first three via the pass, in the first half against Tampa.

With Batch finally getting a chance the Steelers finally had some extended fun in the sun while in possession of the ball, the first time that's happened all season. They wound up blasting the Buccaneers, 38-13.

You could argue that two of Batch's TD throws could have been or should have been intercepted. You could also point out that two other Batch passes actually wound up in the wrong hands.

But even with two turnovers staining an otherwise sizzling performance Batch wound up 12-for-17, for 186 yards and 3 TDs, and finished with a passer rating of 106.5.

The more significant point is Batch at least got the ball down the field and gave Mike Wallace a chance to make a play. As for the rest of what transpired at Raymond James Stadium, what more would you demand from or expect of a Steelers quarterback, other than what Ben Roethlisberger did the last time the Steelers visited the facility?

Batch executed the play-action passes the Steelers knew would be available as big play-opportunities.

Batch got the ball to the sideline on time and on target, where receivers such as Hines Ward were able to catch it in stride and turn up the field.

Batch created time for himself in the pocket before firing downfield.

Batch hung in against the blitz and delivered on third down.

Batch lined up in the shotgun in an otherwise empty backfield and lived to tell about it.

Batch overcame an early interception that set the Bucs up to grab an early lead.

And Batch even took off when the situation dictated and scampered for 24 yards.

There were two things Batch didn't do: He didn't get sacked and he didn't get hurt. That's seven quarters now, give or take, and durability/availability hasn't been an issue.

Given all that, Mike Tomlin was asked, if he'd have had it to do all over again, might he have started Batch against Atlanta and Tennessee given Byron Leftwich's unavailability?

"Man, I don't get do-overs," Tomlin said. "I don't live in that world. I'll let you guys talk about that. Right now we're 3-0 and we're getting ready for Baltimore."

That they are, although it's obvious in retrospect the defense and special teams wouldn't have had to do quite so much of the heavy lifting had Batch been called upon sooner.

What he can bring to the offense, what he can mean to the offense was obvious against the Buccaneers.

"Charlie's a great quarterback," Max Starks assessed. "A lot of people always count him out but I've been here with Charlie for seven years and I've seen some of the great things he can do.

"He still has it. He's fresh and he's ready to play and he knows this offense better than anybody on the team. He might know it better than our offensive coordinator. So to have him in the game and to have that experience back there is just invaluable for us, especially in this time when we don't have No. 7 with us."

So shouldn't Batch have been playing sooner?

"Yeah, he should have," Starks said. "But you have a young guy (in Dennis Dixon) that you drafted who has a great talent level. And you bring in a guy (Leftwich) who was quality for us the year we won the Super Bowl (2008), so first off they're going to look at those guys above all else.

"Charlie just played his part, waited for his opportunity and got better and when he got his opportunity he shined."

It couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy.


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