It seemed to be playing by that script on the opening drive. On the second offensive play, Batch rolled out and threw it right to Aqid Talib, who was covering underneath Mike Wallace. A mindless interception and one that a veteran like Batch has no business throwing. Luckily the defense held tough to hold Tampa to a three and out and a field goal, preventing any early-onset panic on the Pittsburgh sideline.
Each team swapped possessions without a first down, then Batch, in direct defiance of me saying he's only effective from, at furthest 15-20 yards, hit Mike Wallace in the end zone with two defenders in the area. Luckily, the closest defender was rookie safety Cody Grimm, who couldn't find the ball and had his back completely turned when the ball landed in Wallace's hands.
Of course, Wallace would do it again on another deep pass that Talib could have made a play on in the end zone, but instead tipped to Wallace for a touchdown. By then, the Steelers offense had found a semblance of stability, and Batch would end the first half with another touchdown toss to Hines Ward. All told, Wallace finished with 100 yards receiving - mostly on those two catches - and Rashard Mendenhall ground out 143 yards on the ground.
There may be issues to find with any performance, no matter how dominating, but given the huge margin of victory, I'm willing to overlook any niggling problems. The offensive line didn't allow any sacks. The defense didn't let Tampa into the end zone until LaGarrette Blount plunged in on a 4th down with two minutes left in the game. Despite having been forced by the home team to sweat it out in the black jerseys in heat, the defense seldom showed any signs of fatigue. Troy couldn't get any officials interceptions, but he found a way to capture an errant pass by Josh Freeman nonetheless.
Most importantly of all, the running game proved it could simply retain possession and run the clock with a big lead in the second half. This has been something largely missing from the Steelers over the last few years. Even when the Steelers have been good in every other respect, they've struggled to kill games with the lead. That was not the case today with Mendenhall and Isaac Redman running it down the throats of Tampa in second half. If they could have done that in Super Bowl XLIII two years ago in that stadium, it would have never been a close game.
Honestly, other than the Batch pick on the first drive, the lowest point for me was the camera catching these folks in the stands.
Being bandwagon fan Texas is one thing, but emblazing your Roethlisberger jersey is inexcusable whatever your fan bona fides. Steelers haters would decry Pittsburgh fans horde taking over another road stadium, but hell this game was blacked out even with the tons of Steelers fans in attendance. Yeah, the Bucs weren't going to be a great team but they were still coming in 2-0. I guess when the weather is fair for both the Bucs and Rays, Tampa fans only have the time to pretend to support one.
Of course, with the win the Steelers will be at worst 3-1 when Ben Roethlisberger returns from suspension. After this week, a win over the Ravens, who once again failed to look impressive in a home win over the Browns, looks nowhere nearly as improbable as it did just a few weeks ago. It will take a hell of a performance by Pittsburgh and Joe Flacco turning over the ball as he is wont to do against the Steelers, but it can feasibly be done.
A possible 4-0 record and nothing more to worry about than the retarded knee-jerkery from national sports columnists musing whether the Steelers shouldn't just start Charlie Batch the rest of the season, even after Roethlisberger's return.