For weeks Charlie Batch has been quiet, both on and off the field. After Byron Leftwich was injured in the preseason, he was passed up to open the season as the team's starting quarterback in favor of Dennis Dixon.
But he didn't complain. He didn't cause a fuss. He didn't cause dissension in the locker room. Instead, he helped Dixon, gave him advice, pulled for him.
"The competitor in you, you still have that fire in you to want to play," said Batch. "You can't control everything that is going on around you. For me I just had to sit back and wait for the opportunity, whenever that might be. As training camp went on it was getting some plays in seven-on-seven, occasionally some in team. I was just waiting for the opportunity, sometimes it happened in the preseason games, and sometimes it didn't. Really I just didn't know.
"One thing about it, I had to assure the coaching staff I knew the game plan and if my number is called I would be ready to go."
He was patient and on Sunday in Tampa, his patience paid off. With Dixon sidelined with a knee injury, Batch made his first start at quarterback since 2007 and was impressive, managing the offense with ease. He finished the day completing 12 of 17 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns.
"For me it was just waiting for the opportunity to do that in the game," said Batch. "I practiced it and just wanted to show that I was ready. For me to get the call and be able to help this team to victory was great. It wasn't just me; it was a total team effort."
Defensive end Brett Keisel was all smiles on the sideline during the Tampa game and for good reason. Keisel not only recorded his first career interception when he picked off Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman in the fourth quarter, but he returned it 79 yards for a touchdown.
"I thought, you got to score, you got to score, you got to score, because I knew if I didn't score I would never hear the end of it," said Keisel. "Everyone would say he is getting old, he can't run like he used to, so it was a great feeling. Coach (Dick) LeBeau tells us all to run to the ball and I was just running to the ball and it popped up into the air and took it to the house."
Keisel credited the blocking of his teammates for helping him get to the end zone
"I had great blocking. It was a fun play," said Keisel. "I haven't scored since I was like 18 years old, so it felt great. Last time I scored was when I was back in high school, so it feels great. I had a great convoy with great blocking. They might need to use me as a tight end a little bit."
One key block came from linebacker LaMarr Woodley on Freeman.
"That's one thing we practice," said Woodley. "In practice each and every day, somebody get an interception, try to block somebody. Seen the quarterback right there, but he just went for it, so I had to stay on him. Keisel did a good job cutting back and forth, so that's a plus for the defense."
James Harrison's block on the play was a little more free-wheeling and less methodical.
"I didn't know what happened till I heard the roar, and everybody starting running the other way, so I just hit somebody in a white jersey and looked up and Keisel was rumbling," said Harrison.
Kicker Jeff Reed is the honorary chairman of Put Your Best Foot Forward, a program that collects socks for the needy. Many people donate clothes, but socks are not often donated to charities.
"Black and gold are very lucky colors for me, so I'm asking Steelers fans to go out of their way to donate colorful socks in October," said Reed. "Ask your co-workers or members of a community group to donate socks. Talk it up at the office water cooler, at your neighborhood bus stop or at your kid's soccer games. Steelers fans are generous people who care about the people of Pittsburgh, so I'm positive they'll step up for this very good cause."
During the month of October you can drop off socks at any participating Allegheny County public library or the American Red Cross in downtown Pittsburgh. For more information on donating call 412-263-3184.