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Steelers Pound Bucs 38-13

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Charlie Batch threw three touchdowns, Rashard Mendenhall ran for 143 yards and Mike Wallace caught two long touchdowns as the Steelers ran their record to 3-0 with a 38-13 rout of the Buccaneers in Tampa on Sunday afternoon.

Steelers 38 – Buccaneers 13
Homestead-native Charlie Batch finally awoke Pittsburgh’s sleeping offense, which paired with the league’s best defense to knock off Tampa Bay and remain undefeated without Ben Roethlisberger. Batch’s three touchdowns led the way on a day where the Steelers controlled play on both sides of the ball.

Pittsburgh started on a negative note when QB Charlie Batch was picked off on his first pass of the game. The defense, as usual, bailed the team out and limited Tampa Bay to a field goal. After a three-and-out by each team, Batch stepped up and took a shot deep, finding WR Mike Wallace for a 46-yard touchdown and a 7-3 Pittsburgh lead. Tampa Bay responded with a 15-play drive that ate up nearly nine minutes of game time, but were forced to settle for a second field goal after entering the red zone. Batch and RB Rashard Mendenhall took turns running the ball on the next drive, with Mendenhall eventually punching it in on a 3-yard touchdown run. Pittsburgh forced a fumble four plays later, setting up another quick-strike deep ball from Batch to Wallace, this one a 41-yard touchdown on a tipped pass. Batch added one more score on a hurry-up drive to end the half, finding WR Hines Ward on a 9-yard pass to give the Steelers a 28-6 halftime lead.

A 24-yard Jeff Reed field goal was the highlight of a defensive struggle in the third quarter. The fourth quarter, however, started off with a bang thanks to Brett Kiesel. The defensive end intercepted a tipped pass from QB Josh Freeman to RB Cadillac Williams and followed a convoy of Steelers defenders into the endzone for a 79-yard pick-six. A second interception by Charlie Batch led to a touchdown drive by Tampa Bay, capped off by a one-yard plunge by Buccaneers RB LeGarrette Blount, but it was too little, too late as Pittsburgh escaped the heat of Tampa with a 38-13 win.

On the ground:
The running game was outstanding, with Rashard Mendenhall spearheading a 201-yard team rushing day.
Mendenhall himself toted the ball 19 times for 143 yards and a touchdown, with large chunks of that yardage coming in the second half with the Steelers in the lead. Isaac Redman contributed 31 yards on five carries, but failed to convert a 4th-and-one on his only short-yardage carry. Even Charlie Batch put in some work, gaining 26 yards on two runs including a 24-yard scramble on a third-and-six.

Through the air: Batch started off with an interception, but balanced things out nicely with three touchdowns in the first half, two on deep shots to WR Mike Wallace. Batch finished the day 12-of-17 for 186 yards with three scores and two interceptions. Wallace had three catches for exactly 100 yards and two of those three touchdowns. Hines Ward caught the third touchdown on one of his three catches and finished the day with 34 yards.

The defense continued its dominant play, holding Tampa Bay to just 13 points and refusing to allow a touchdown until garbage time. Second-year quarterback Josh Freeman was pressured all afternoon and was sacked three times– one each by Lawrence Timmons, Nick Eason and William Gay. Rookie LB Jason Worilds added a fourth sack on backup-QB Josh Johnson. James Farrior forced a fumble which was recovered by Ryan Clark. Defensive end Brett Kiesel pulled in the defense’s lone interception and returned it 79-yards for a touchdown.

Jeff Reed connected on a 24-yard chip-shot field goal and made all five of his extra points. Daniel Sepulveda only punted once, but made it count with to a 62-yard boom that was downed inside in the ten. Antonio Brown handled the majority of the kick return duties and averaged 22.3 yards on his three attempts.

Game Ball
Charlie Batch will share this week’s award with the Pittsburgh offensive line. Batch’s three-touchdown day was helped by a line that kept the pressure off its quarterback. Batch was not sacked and had plenty of time in the pocket. The line also excelled in the running game, opening huge holes en route to a 201-yard rushing day.

Next Up
The team returns home to face division-rival Baltimore in the team’s final week without Ben Roethlisberger. Baltimore entered week four at 2-1 after a close win against Cleveland. Kickoff is at 1:00PM and the game will be broadcast on CBS.

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