View Full Version : Steelers owe Super debt to backup QBs Dixon, Batch

01-29-2011, 06:51 PM
Steelers owe Super debt to backup QBs Dixon, Batch

By Clark Judge
CBSSports.com Senior Writer
Jan. 29, 2011Tell Clark your opinion!

Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch won't draw much of an audience this week, but maybe they should. Because while Ben Roethlisberger rescued the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs, making the critical throws to beat Baltimore and the Jets, Dixon and Batch saved the season.

I'm serious.

They were the two guys who stood in for Roethlisberger while he served a four-game suspension imposed by the NFL, and they were the two who did just enough that the Steelers won three of their first four starts when most realists had them pegged no better than 2-2.

Now, I know what you're thinking: Big deal. Well, yes, as a matter of fact it is. Because if Pittsburgh dropped one of those three games, it doesn't win the AFC North. Baltimore does. And if Pittsburgh doesn't win the AFC North, the Steelers -- not Baltimore -- are the fifth seed. That not only would've put them on the road for the first two games of the playoffs, it probably would have put them out of Super Bowl XLV.

But the Steelers didn't lose those games, and they didn't because Dixon and Batch did what they had to do -- which was not screw things up. They didn't throw a zillion passes. They didn't make secondaries run for cover. They didn't push their offenses up and down the field.

But they won, and that's all that matters.

Batch and Dixon combined to complete 63 percent of their passes for 606 yards, three touchdowns, four interceptions and a passer rating of 77.49. Granted, those numbers aren't exceptional, but this is: 3-1. They beat Atlanta. They beat Tennessee. They beat Tampa Bay. The three were a combined 29-19, and nobody in the NFC was better than the Falcons.

Now look how they got there: With second-string quarterback Byron Leftwich bowing out in the final preseason game with torn knee ligaments. Until that time, he was the logical guy to replace Roethlisberger, with Dixon the third-stringer and Batch headed for the chopping block.

But life changes and the Steelers changed with it.

"To me," said former Washington Redskins vice president Vinny Cerrato, "it's as much about Mike Tomlin as anyone. He said, 'We're going to play to the strengths of whoever was playing quarterback,' and he did. Basically, he said, 'We're going to win it with special teams, defense and running the ball.'"
Pittsburgh Steelers

The Backup Games

* Week 1 (Dixon): Steelers 15, Falcons 9 (OT)
* Week 2 (Dixon, Batch): Steelers 19, Titans 11
* Week 3 (Batch): Steelers 38, Buccaneers 13
* Week 4 (Batch): Ravens 17, Steelers 14

The Steelers won the opener on three Jeff Reed field goals and a 50-yard Rashard Mendenhall touchdown run in overtime. They won the second on three Reed field goals and an Antonio Brown punt return. They won the third when Batch dissected Tampa Bay for three scoring passes and Brett Keisel returned an interception for a touchdown.

All three victories featured stubborn Pittsburgh defense -- with the Steelers allowing no more than 13 points in any game -- and no major gaffes by the quarterbacks.

Credit Batch. Credit Dixon. Credit Tomlin. Credit offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, I don't care. The Steelers did what they had to do, which was to make the best of a bad situation and win more games than they lost without Roethlisberger.

Once he returned to the huddle, the Steelers returned to normal -- winning 11 of their next 14 and reaching their third Super Bowl in six years. That is no coincidence. Pittsburgh wouldn't be in Super Bowl XLV without Roethlisberger, but I argue they wouldn't be there without Batch and Dixon, either.

"What they did was huge," said one AFC coach who asked not to be identified, "but this is a place where I give Tomlin credit. He did a really smart thing: He didn't try to force the quarterbacks to win the game; he just made sure they didn't lose the game.

"When you have a defense as good as the Steelers do and when you have an improved special teams, you make sure you run the ball and don't let your quarterbacks lose the games to talented teams. That's smart. And Tomlin had to be a big part of that."

Sure he was. But so were Batch and Dixon. I don't care what they didn't do. I care what they did -- which was win. They didn't commit fatal mistakes. They didn't fumble a critical snap or launch a drive-killing interception. They didn't crack under pressure.

In short, they didn't fail, and the credit they may not have gotten then, they should be getting now.

El Nino
01-29-2011, 06:54 PM
mendenhall was the mvp for the first 4 games, imo. but the backup qb's didn't lose the game for us which is probably what they were asked to do. In any case, I like batch, I don't know why lefty is the #2 over him.

01-29-2011, 07:02 PM
I know the article says Batch and Dixon 'did just enough,' which does indirectly give the D credit, but to be fair the defense played absolutely out of their minds at times those first 4 games.

01-29-2011, 09:08 PM
With the way Mendenhall and our D played, we would have won with anyone back there except Jake Delhomme or Jimmy Clausen. We owe Dixon and Charlie nothing. Batch had 1 good game against Tampa and Dixon had no good games.