The Steelers were dominant all day, defeating Tampa Bay 38-13 to improve their record to 3-0 and handing the Bucs their first loss of the season, dropping to 2-1.
Charlie Batch, who made his first start at quarterback since 2007, was impressive, managing the offense with ease. Batch finished the day completing 12 of 17 for 186 yards and three touchdowns. Mike Wallace was on the receiving end of two of the scores, finishing the day with three receptions for 100 yards.
"You really have to tip a hat to Charlie Batch for what he was able to do for us today," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "He played like a veteran. This guy hasn't had many opportunities not only in recent years, but in recent days, weeks and months. He didn't blink. He's been a consummate professional and team players. Good things usually happen for those kinds of people. A lot of congratulations to go around. Just a total team effort and one I am excited for the men in that locker room."
Rashard Mendenhall had an explosive day with 19 carries for 143 yards and a touchdown.
The defense stymied Tampa's offense, holding them to just one touchdown that came with only 1:54 on the clock and the game already decided.
The Steelers got off to a rough start on offense when on the second play from scrimmage Batch was intercepted by Aqib Talib at the Steelers 31-yard line.
The defense limited the damage, though. Cadillac Williams was held to one-yard up the middle and Josh Freeman hit Mike Williams for six yards. On third-and-three William Gay held Sammie Stroughter to just a two-yard gain. The Bucs were forced to settle for a 40-yard Connor Barth field goal for an early 3-0 lead.
Batch completed a six-yard pass to Hines Ward to open their next drive, but the offense wouldn't go any further. Rashard Mendenhall was stopped for no gain and on third down Mewelde Moore couldn't pull in the pass.
Another defensive stand gave the Steelers the ball back in good field position at the Tampa 45-yard line. And they took advantage of it. After a double-reverse ended in a one-yard loss, the Steelers went for broke. Wallace beat the coverage and Batch fired a 46-yard touchdown pass to give the Steelers a 7-3 lead.
The Bucs got going on offense on their next drive. Cadillac Williams went off left end for 16 yards and Freeman hit Mike Williams for 16 yards. LeGarrette Blount powered ahead for 12 yards and Freeman went to Cadillac Williams for an 11-yard completion. After two short carries by Blount, Freeman scrambled around left end for an 11-yard gain to move the chains. Blount picked up eight more yards and Freeman hit Kellen Winslow for 13 yards to the seven-yard line. Freeman lost his footing for a three-yard loss. The defense stepped up once again, keeping the Bucs out of the end zone and bringing on Barth for a 24-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-6.
Mendenhall got the call to carry the load on the next series, rattling off a 15-yard carry. He added a four-yard carry, but was stopped for no gain. On third down Batch was forced to scramble and saw nothing but daylight, taking it 24 yards to the 24-yard line. Batch went back to the air, hitting Heath Miller for a 21-yard gain. Mendenhall put the exclamation point on the drive with a three-yard touchdown run for a 14-6 lead.
An opportunistic defense came though once again for the Steelers. Mike Williams was spun around by James Farrior, forcing a fumble, and the ball was grabbed out of the air by Ryan Clark, who returned it five yards.
For the second time in the game Batch aired it out for Wallace, who came through again. The ball went off the hands of the hands of Tailb, and Wallace never took his eyes off it, pulling in the 44-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 21-6, mid-way through the second quarter.
The defense came up with another stop and Batch and company went back to work. Mendenhall took it for 13 yards and Antwaan Randle El pulled in a 14-yard reception. Moore went for four yards and Batch hit Wallace for 13 yards. Ward grabbed a 19-yard reception along the sideline and Moore took it for seven yards to the nine-yard line. On third down Batch stayed hot, hitting Ward in the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown and 28-6 halftime lead.
The defense came out of the locker room with the same intensity they had in the first half, forcing a three-and-out when Freeman was sacked by Gay for a seven-yard loss.
The Steelers lined up in the wildcat on their first drive of the second half, with Antwaan Randle El handing off to Mendenhall who took it off left guard for 17 yards. Mendenhall had a short gain, and after a loss the Steelers were faced with third-and-10. Batch hit Isaac Redman who came up just shy of the first down. The Steelers went for it on fourth down, but Redman was held for no gain, turning the ball over on downs at the Tampa 37-yard line.
The Steelers defense came through once again, getting the ball back into the hands of the offense. Mendenhall went up the middle for five yards and Redman added on a four-yard carry. On third-and-one the line plowed forward, allowing Batch to gain two yards and keep the drive going. Mendenhall exploded behind his lead blocker, getting free and heading down the sideline for a 34-yard gain to the 14-yard line. Mendenhall added carries of three and five yards, but David Johnson slipped in the end zone and Batch wasn't able to connect with him for the touchdown. Jeff Reed's 24-yard field goal extended the lead to 31-6 in the third quarter.
Tampa was moving the ball on offense and in typical defensive fashion the Steelers came up with another huge play. Brett Keisel intercepted Freeman at the 21-yard line, and rambled down the field, aided by a block by LaMarr Woodley on Freeman, for a 79-yard touchdown and 38-6 lead.
The Bucs continued to struggle on offense, and it was quickly back to work for the Steelers, controlling the clock on the ground. Mendenhall had a five and 10-yard carry and Redman added a nine and 16-yard carry. Mendenhall came back with an 18-yard carry to the Tampa 38-yard line. After two short gains, Batch made one of his few mistakes on the day when he was intercepted by Quincy Black.
Josh Johnson came in at quarterback for the Bucs and breathed some life into the offense, driving down for the Bucs only touchdown of the day when Blount scored from the one-yard line on fourth down.