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Old 09-27-2010, 12:12 AM   #1
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Default Batch, defense keep Steelers undefeated

Batch, defense keep Steelers undefeated
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Sunday, September 26, 2010 03:47 PM
Written by Bob Smizik
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By Bob Smizik | Sunday 3:50 p.m.

Not bad for a fourth-string quarterback!

The legitimate concerns that the Steelers championship aspirations would be ruined by a four-game suspension to starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger almost looks laughable today.

They are 3-0 after a 38-13 dismantling of previously unbeaten and badly overmatched Tampa Bay. They are the class of the AFC North and clearly they are a legit candidate to advance to the Super Bowl.

The Steelers record looks all the more impressive because of what two of the teams they beat did today. Atlanta, which could not move the ball against the Steelers, won on the road against Super Bowl champion New Orleans, 27-24, in overtime and the Tennessee Titans, who the Steelers' defense also dominated, beat the New York Giants, 29-10.

The Steelers won their first two games, over Atlanta and Tennessee, on the strength of a mighty defense, which has been better than expected. The offense, with a struggling Dennis Dixon starting both games, was along for the ride.

But with Charlie Batch at quarterback today, replacing an injured Dixon, the Steelers had an offense to almost match that defense.

Batch was intercepted on his first pass of the day and then turned nearly flawless. He completed 12 of 17 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns. He threw a second interception, which led to Tampaís only touchdown, late in the fourth quarter.

Not bad for the guy who went to training camp as the team's No. 4 quarterback and who remained in that role throughout the exhibition season.

But he's No. 1 today and will be next Sunday, when the Steelers play the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field. There will not be a quarterback debate in Pittsburgh this week.

Nor the week after when Roethlsibergerís suspension ends and he assume his position as the teamís starting quarterback. Coach Mike Tomlin hasnít said that, but there is no doubt -- regardless of how well Batch plays against Baltimore -- that Roethlisberger, with a bye week to get ready, will be the starter in week six against Cleveland.

The Bucs, who took a 3-0 lead after getting good field position following Batchís interception, never had a chance. The Steelers led, 7-3, at the end of the first quarter and 28-6 at halftime.

The defense was not overwhelmingly dominant as it was in the first two games, but that could have had something to do with the size of the Steelers lead. Tampa Bay amassed some decent numbers, which might hurt the Steelers in the league defensive statistics this week, but their offense never was a threat to outplay the Steelers defense.

Batch and wide receiver Mike Wallace, three catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns, were hardly the whole offensive show. Rashard Mendenhall had another strong game, carrying 19 times for 143 yards. The clamor for him to be replaced by Isaac Redman has turned silent.

It's entirely possible this win could be a Steelers rarity: One without criticism of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. Although I'm confident someone will step up to level some degree of incompetence on Arians

The hope by most was the Steelers were would be 2-2 when Roethlisberger returned, with most believing one of those losses would come in Game 4 against Baltimore.

Now the feeling, and with good reason, is to be greedy. Why settle with 3-1 when 4-0 is within reach?

Why not, indeed!
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Old 09-27-2010, 12:25 AM   #2
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Default Re: Batch, defense keep Steelers undefeated

Five previous undefeated teams will have losses after this week (Texans, Dolphins, Bucs, Saints, and either Bears or Packers) and there will be only 3 undefeated teams left.

The Steelers have 3 wins against opponents, all of whom have a winning record. KC is 3-0 against two teams that have a 0-3 record and one team that has a 1-2 record.
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