Because there’s still some life in the 37-year-old arm of Charlie Batch, the Pittsburgh Steelers remain alive in the AFC North.
Batch directed a 61-yard drive in the closing minutes and Shaun Suisham kicked a 42-yard field goal as time expired to give the Steelers a 23-20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
Playing without injured Ben Roethlisberger for a third straight week, the Steelers turned to Batch for the second game in a row. The 15-year veteran went 25 for 36 for 276 yards, threw a touchdown and rallied the Steelers in a must-win game against their hated 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 was elevated to the top of the depth chart after backup Byron Leftwich was injured against Baltimore two weeks ago
“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,” Batch said. .
Especially after Batch and the Steelers committed eight turnovers last week in a loss to Cleveland.
“I knew going into it that I had to play better,” Batch said. “I had to go out there and lead this offense the way that I know I can. 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.”
“Big necessary win for us tonight in a hostile environment. We don’t take that lightly,” coach Mike Tomlin said.
Pittsburgh (7-5) snapped a two-game losing streak and kept alive its slim hopes of overtaking Baltimore (9-3) in the AFC North. The teams have split their games this season, with each winning by three points.
Seven of the last eight regular-season games between the teams have been decided by that same margin.
“That was a typical Pittsburgh-Baltimore game,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s amazing how it works out that way.
Pittsburgh trailed 13-3 in the first half and 20-13 in the fourth quarter before coming back. Batch missed a wide open Mike Wallace in the end zone near the end of the first half, but the cagey quarterback more than made up for it after halftime.
The Ravens could have clinched a playoff berth with a victory. Instead, Baltimore had its 15-game home winning streak snapped and also lost for the first time in 13 games against division foes. Baltimore’s last defeat at home was against Pittsburgh in December 2010.
“This game didn’t determine the AFC North. We still can go ahead and win the division,” said running back Ray Rice, who ran for 78 yards in only 12 carries. “We’ll go ahead and try to get over this loss.”
Batch outplayed Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, who went 16 for 34 for 188 yards and fueled Pittsburgh’s comeback by losing a fumble in the fourth quarter.
“I think we missed a couple of opportunities early to really take a hold of this game even more,” Flacco said. “I thought we could have put up 30 or 40 points today and we didn’t. I think that’s a reflection that we hurt ourselves.”
Pittsburgh CB Ike Taylor hurt his right ankle in the first quarter and did not return.