Making his first start in three years, Charlie Batch threw three touchdown passes in the first half as the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers demolished the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-13 on Sunday afternoon.
After being picked off in his first attempt by Aqib Talib that resulted in a 40-yard field goal by Connor Barth, the veteran backup went to work. Batch sandwiched 46- and 41-yard scoring passes to Mike Wallace between a touchdown drive in which he scrambled 24 yards to set up Rashard Mendenhall’s 3-yard score.
Batch capped the half with a 9-yard score to Hines Ward as the Steelers (3-0) took a 28-3 lead at the half – the most points in the first half the Steelers have scored since 2007.
Playing in place of injured starter Dennis Dixon while Pittsburgh awaits the return of Ben Roethlisberger from suspension, Batch was 11 of 14 in the half for 177 yards and finished 12 of 17 for 186 yards and two interceptions. He last threw 3 touchdown passes back in 2006 for Pittsburgh against Miami and had thrown only four TDs since that contest.
Mendenhall rushed for 143 yards on 19 carries for Pittsburgh, which has beaten Tampa Bay (2-1) four straight times.
Josh Freeman was 20 of 31 for 184 yards and a fourth-quarter TD to LeGarrette Blount for the Bucs, but was picked off by linebacker Brett Keisel, who returned the ball 79 yards for a TD in the fourth quarter.