Charlie Batch helped the Pittsburgh Steelers prevail in a 23-20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, keeping their playoff hopes alive in the AFC North.
The 37-year-old Batch, who replaced injured quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich, was able to make a 61-yard drive in the final minutes of the fourth quarter to secure a must-win game against their division rivals.
“This is big. It was another opportunity for me to come out here and start, which is rare right now,” said Batch, who went 25 for 36 for 276 yards and a touchdown. “To be able to go on the road and do something that nobody outside of our locker room thought that we could do is big.”
The win over the Ravens was a big morale booster for Batch and Steelers after committing eight turnovers in a loss to the Cleveland Browns last week.
The 15-year veteran admitted that coming into the game that he needed to play much better to give the Steelers a chance to win.
“I had to go out there and lead this offense the way that I know I can,” Batch said. “I felt the receivers did a great job of getting open, the offensive line did a great job of protecting. I was really able to set my feet and just play ball and have fun.”
Sunday’s win over the Ravens ended a two-game losing streak and now gives Pittsburgh (7-5) slight chance of surpassing Baltimore (9-3) for the AFC North crown. The teams have finished their regular season battles against each other, both splitting their games and winning each by three points.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin emphasized how big of a win it was for his team after the game.
“Big necessary win for us tonight in a hostile environment. We don’t take that lightly,” Tomlin said.
If the Ravens would have won the game they would have clinched a playoff berth, but they still remain one game away from being able clinch a playoff spot. The Ravens had their 15-game home winning streak broken. Their last home loss came to the Steelers in December 2010.
“This game didn’t determine the AFC North. We still can go ahead and win the division,” said Ravens running back Ray Rice. “We’ll go ahead and try to get over this loss.”
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco will try to forget how Batch outplayed him. Flacco went 16 for 34 for 188 yards. Flacco admitted after the game that they had several missed opportunities to take control of the game.
“I thought we could have put up 30 or 40 points today and we didn’t,” Flacco said. “I think that’s a reflection that we hurt ourselves.”
The Steelers turned the ball over three times and the Ravens scored two touchdowns on the turnovers. But the Steelers managed to get ball back after James Harrison forced Flacco to fumble the ball on the Steelers 27-yard line.
With 7:24 left in the game Batch threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Heath Miller to tie the game at 20-20.
On the Steelers final drive, Batch was able to march down the field and connect with Mike Wallace for a 15-yard completion on a third-and-7. This allowed for Shaun Suisham to kick a 42-yard field goal to win the game as time expired.
The ending was nothing new for Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.
“That was a typical Pittsburgh-Baltimore game,” Harbaugh said. “It’s amazing how it works out that way.”
The Ravens will have a chance to clinch a playoff berth next week as they take on the Washington Redskins.
The Steelers will take the momentum for this win into next week as they host the San Diego Chargers, with the possible return of Roethlisberger.