Steelers lose Batch in 16-10 win over Eagles
PITTSBURGH (AP)—A sore groin didn’t slow Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first-string offense. Good thing, too, because the Steelers now face uncertainty at the backup quarterback position.
Coach Mike Tomlin said the team hopes to sign a veteran to replace Batch, who could be out four to six weeks.
Tomlin said Batch when he scrambled for 6 yards after running back Mewelde Moore didn’t take a handoff.
Batch “ended up with the football trying to make the best out of a bad situation,” Tomlin said. “The competitor in him probably got the best of him, he lowered his shoulder and the end result was a broken collar bone.”
Roethlisberger completed both passes he threw, a pair of 19-yarders, the second to Santonio Holmes for the game’s first score to cap a brisk, eight-play, 80-yard drive.
“I thought our first offense was sharp coming out of the gate, that was important to us,” Tomlin said.
Donovan McNabb and the Eagles also looked crisp, and McNabb played far more than Roethlisberger. The Eagles scored a touchdown and a field goal on their first two drives, during which McNabb completed 10 of 13 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, but were shut out the rest of the night.
“I thought he played really well. I liked the poise,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “There were so many good things that I saw, and a couple bad ones, but Donovan was a plus.”
McNabb said he believes the offense “can be great if we continue to stay healthy and continue to progress.”
The Steelers’ two biggest questions coming into the game were answered. With Alan Faneca gone, offensive line protected Roethlisberger and opened large holes for Mendenhall and Willie Parker, who was coming off a broken leg that ended his 2007 season.
Parker did not appear to be slowed as he ran three times for 20 yards on the opening drive before he was pulled.
“I think it was awesome that the offensive line did a great job of run blocking,” Roethlisberger said. “We threw two passes and they protected very well. I think it was a good first drive for us.”
The Eagles’ biggest question coming into the game was also answered—even though he didn’t end up playing. Running back Brian Westbrook signed a six-year contract extension that includes $21 million—including $13 million guaranteed — over the first three years.
The deal was so complicated that Westbrook spent much of the first half reviewing it, and didn’t play the quarter or more than was expected of him.
“He had to get his contract done,” Reid said. “It was done, he just had to review it and look through it one more time. He’ll be out there for the next one.”
Each team’s featured rookie also played well.
Rashard Mendenhall, the Steelers’ first-round draft pick out of Illinois, ran seven times for 34 yards. That included a nifty 15-yard run that he bounced outside, keeping alive a drive that led to Jeff Reed’s game-tying 20-yard field goal in the second quarter.
Reed added two more field goals, including a 50-yarder midway through the fourth quarter.
Eagles second-rounder DeSean Jackson made five catches for 51 yards. A handful of other balls thrown his way were either knocked down or ruled out of bounds.
“It felt good. It’s football, it’s what I play,” Jackson said of his first game in the pros. “It’s nothing different, just going out and trying to make the same plays.”
“You’ve got to understand that this is first time in the NFL,” McNabb said. “We’ve all been through that before, and understand you kind of have some butterflies and get a bit nervous at times but I thought he handled it well.”
The Steelers’ second-round pick, Limas Sweed, took longer to get untracked, but found his rhythm with third-string quarterback Dennis Dixon, a rookie out of Oregon. Dixon played more than expected because he replaced the injured Batch.
All three of Sweed’s catches came from Dixon, including a 9-yarder on a rollout early in the fourth quarter.
“I felt good, but there’s room for improvement,” said Dixon, who completed six of nine passes for 30 yards, including three to Sweed totaling 23 yards.
The Eagles had a chance to win the game late, when A.J. Feeley drove the team inside the 20, but misfired on a fourth-down pass with seconds left.
“I thought that the finish to that game was a great experience fro some young men to be in somewhat of a pressure situation and have to deliver,” Tomlin said.