New Castle News

Sports

August 31, 2012

Batch shines as Steelers edge Panthers

PITTSBURGH — Charlie Batch and Jimmy Clausen just wanted to show they deserved to be employed after NFL teams trim their rosters to 53 players today.

Rainbow throws from quarterbacks on opposite ends of their careers may have done the trick.

The 37-year-old Batch completed 11 of 14 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown to bolster his hopes of playing a 15th season and the Pittsburgh Steelers held off a late rally by Clausen and the Carolina Panthers for a 17-16 preseason victory last night.

“It seems like over the years, this game dictated whether I was going to be around,” Batch said. “To go down there and put points on the board, those are things that Coach wants to see. At the end of the day, as a player, you just want to make the decision tough for them. I think I did.”

The same goes for the 24-year-old Clausen, who ceded the starting job to Cam Newton last year and is now simply trying to beat out Derek Anderson as the team’s top backup. Clausen passed for 173 yards and two touchdowns in one half of work, including a 79-yard score to rookie Lamont Bryant with 2:31 to play to bring the Panthers within a point.

The 2-point conversion failed, however, and kicker Justin Medlock missed a 50-yard field goal with 32 seconds left.

Still, Clausen appeared to bolster his case with coach Ron Rivera.

“I thought Jimmy did a nice job, I really do,” Rivera said. “Coming in the second half and playing the way he did is indicative of what he’s capable of. I was very pleased with that. He made plays at the end ... and put us in position to give us a chance to win a football game.”

Both teams sat the majority of their top players.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and defensive back Troy Polamalu did not play for Pittsburgh, while Rivera gave Newton and wide receiver Steve Smith the night off.

That left plenty of time for guys who are fighting to survive today’s final roster cuts, a group that includes Batch.

The Pittsburgh native and the elder statesman on the Steelers, and has been involved in a camp-long duel with Jerrod Johnson for the team’s third quarterback spot. It’s a familiar position for Batch, who survived roster cuts in each of the last two seasons thanks in part to injuries to usual backup Byron Leftwich.

Leftwich has stayed healthy this summer and injury issues at several positions — including offensive line and linebacker — have made it uncertain whether the Steelers will keep three quarterbacks on the roster.

Batch put together a pretty convincing argument he should stick around. He deftly drove the Steelers 80 yards on five plays the first time they got the ball, capping the drive with a rainbow strike to Sanders. Batch floated the ball toward the goal line and Sanders split two defenders and made a spectacular diving catch.

“Obviously, when you connect like that, it makes you look good,” Batch said.

Pittsburgh rookie running back/kick returner Chris Rainey appeared to make it 14-0 a few minutes later when he returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown. The play was called back, however, because of a holding penalty.

It happened again later in the quarter, when Rainey hauled in a punt at the Pittsburgh 9, made a defender grasp at thin air then dashed 91 yards for a score. That one came back too, thanks to another holding penalty.

Carolina used the reprieve to eventually tie the game. Anderson struggled during his half of play — completing 8 of 18 passes for 91 yards — but did put together a 17-play, 73-yard drive that ended with Medlock’s 31-yard field goal.

It was the highlight of the night for Medlock, who beat out veteran Olindo Mare for the starting job earlier in the week. He had the distance on a 56-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter, but it sailed wide right and his game-winning attempt sailed wide left.

“I was hoping for that situation and hoping for it again,” Medlock said. “You just got to get it figured out.”

The Panthers tied it at 10 early in the second half when Clausen found Jared Green for a 3-yard touchdown pass.

Pittsburgh reclaimed the lead early in the fourth quarter when Batch found tight end Weslye Saunders for a 6-yard score.

The Steelers did allow a handful of starters to break a sweat, including nose tackle Casey Hampton. The 12-year veteran spent the first three weeks of training camp on the physically unable to perform list while recovering from offseason knee surgery. Still, Hampton vowed to be ready for the opener and he sprinted onto the field when he was introduced.

The five-time Pro Bowl selection played throughout the first quarter and finished with two tackles.

“I’m out there playing, so I’m feeling pretty good,” Hampton said. “I told you I’d be ready to go when the season opens, that was my main goal.”

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • Taggart.jpg Arsonists damage New Castle’s football field

    With the New Castle football team just days away from the start of practice, vandals have hit Taggart Stadium. Someone set fire to artificial turf at the stadium and damaged a blocking sled the team uses in practice.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • pennstate.jpg Big 10 commission noncommittal on Penn State sanction cuts

    Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany took a non-committal stance on an effort by five Pennsylvania Congressmen to rescind sanctions against Penn State for its handling of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.

     

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • SteelersSpence.jpg Steelers LB Spence caps lengthy comeback

    The whistle blew and Sean Spence sprinted forward, each cathartic step distancing the linebacker from the horrific knee injury that threatened to end his NFL career before it even really began.

     

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wheaton.jpg Steelers' Wheaton eyeing chance after tough rookie year

    Markus Wheaton realizes the pressure is there, but he doesn’t mind.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Polanco.jpg Harrison’s four hits leads Pirates past Rockies, 7-5

    Josh Harrison had four hits, including a tiebreaking homer, to help the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Colorado Rockies 7-5 on Sunday. Gregory Polanco and Travis Snider also went deep for the Pirates, who avoided being swept in Colorado for the second straight season.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates Rockies Baseb_Fusc.jpg Anderson leads Rockies over Pirates 8-1

    Brett Anderson pitched effectively into the seventh inning for his first win in more than a year and the Colorado Rockies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-1 on Friday night.

     

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • MANGINO.jpg Mangino finding new home at Iowa State

     The first time Iowa State defensive end Cory Morrissey saw Mark Mangino, the former Kansas coach and current ISU offensive coordinator stopped him in his tracks.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates.jpg Pirates jump on Haren early, top Dodgers 6-1

    Josh Harrison had two hits with two RBIs and the Pittsburgh Pirates jumped on Dan Haren early in a 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Aloi.jpg Aloi's PIAA eligibility hearing postponed

    The wait continues for Nick Aloi. Aloi, who transferred from Ellwood City Lincoln High to Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School on Jan. 21, still does not know if he will get to play a full season for the Leopards’ basketball team

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates.jpg Polanco, Walker lift Pirates over Dodgers 12-7

    Gregory Polanco broke out of a slump with a solo home run and a tiebreaking two-run single, lifting the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 12-7 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Shoot For 2
House Ads
Photo of the Day