Charlie Batch’s performance in Baltimore, given the circumstances and the opponent, will go down as the greatest performance by a backup quarterback in Steelers history.
Here are my other top five, two of which include Batch. Remember, the game’s significance is sometimes as critical as the individual performance.
1) Nov. 6, 2005. Steelers 20, Green Bay Packers 10
Batch made his first start since Dec. 2, 2001, when he was with the Detroit Lions and led the Steelers to victory in a game in which Roethlisberger (knee) and Jerome Bettis (thigh) did not play and running back Willie Parke was injured in the second half.
The victory was significant for several reasons. The Steelers (6-2) became the first team since the 1989-90 San Francisco 49ers and the fourth team overall to win 11 consecutive road games. And it helped the Steelers sneak into the postseason as the No. 6 seed en route to winning the Super Bowl.
Batch completed 9 of 16 passes for 65 yards and one interception, and the Steelers defense forced three turnovers that resulted in 17 points, including a 77-yard fumble return by Troy Polamalu.
2) Oct. 17, 1976, Steelers 23, Cincinnati Bengals 6
After winning back-to-back Super Bowls, the Steelers started the season 1-4 and lost Terry Bradshaw in Week 5 in Cleveland when he was body-slammed to the turf by Browns defensive end Joe "Turkey" Jones.
That forced the Steelers to turn their offense over to rookie Mike Kruczek, a second-round draft choice from Boston College. Relying on one of the greatest defenses in NFL history and a running game that would feature two 1,000-yard rushers, Kruczek won all six games that Bradshaw missed. It would stand as an NFL record for best start for a rookie quarterback until 2004, when Roethlisberger went 13-0 as a starter his rookie season.
The streak began with a victory against the Bengals in which Kruczek was a very modest 5 of 12 for 58 yards with one interception.
3) Oct. 15, 1989. Steelers 17, Cleveland Browns 7
The Steelers opened the season with a 51-0 loss to the Browns and a 41-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and had dropped to 2-3 with another loss to the Bengals in Week 5. But they bounced back the following week in Cleveland to avenge their lopsided loss to the Browns and begin a run that would eventually land them in the postseason.
And they did it with Todd Blackledge replacing an injured Bubby Brister and passing for 143 yards and one touchdown against the Browns.
4) Sept. 26, 2010. Steelers 38, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13
With Roethlisberger serving a league-mandated four-game suspension to start the season, Batch made his first start in three years and improved the Steelers to 3-0 for the first time since 2007. Batch overcame an interception on his very first attempt to throw for 186 yards and three touchdowns, including two of 46 and 41 yards to Mike Wallace.
5) Nov. 17, 1974. Steelers 26, Cleveland Browns 6
In a season in which Chuck Noll kept switching his starting quarterbacks, Terry Hanratty was appointed the surprise starter in Cleveland over Bradshaw and Joe Gilliam. Hanratty's start lasted only one game because he completed just 2 of 15 passes and threw three interceptions against the Browns. But he got enough help from the defense to allow the Steelers to post their first victory in Cleveland since 1964 and improve to 7-2-1.
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