Christmas Eve and Charlie Batch Deliver One Special Gift for This Steelers Fan

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Can Charlie Batch lead this team again to the necessary victories in order to keep this team in the divisional hunt and moving in a positive direction going into the playoffs?  Can the Steelers afford to sit Roethlisberger?  As the stands erupted with ‘Charlie, Charlie!’ numerous times throughout the game, and the Steelers plowed over the St. Louis Rams, those question were put to bed.

If my family could start a new tradition this year, it would be to spend Christmas Eve day at Heinz Field and watch the Steelers steam roll over their opponent.  Saturday was the first game at Heinz Field for my wife and I, and it was the first regular season game for my dad.  He hasn’t been to a regular/playoff Steelers game (aka a game that mattered) since the 70’s.  His dad used to have season tickets back then.  I thought it fitting to use the SeatGeek contest as a way to get all of us in that stadium.  We couldn’t have asked for a better day.

As the three of us approached Gate A and avoided having to interact with Steely McBeam (the worst mascot ever), you could feel the energy building from within Heinz Field.  We quickly made our way to the north end zone so we could lean on the rail and watch some of the warmups.  The team took the field a short while later, going through their rituals of stretches, mock blocks and pass/catch drills. (I’ll post all the pictures near the end.)  You really don’t get a sense of how big (or how little) these guys really are until you get down to field level.  STARKS IS HUGE and by far the biggest guy on the field.  He even makes Big Snack look sort of small.  James Harrison was the last to take the field (a full 5 minutes after the rest of the team was out) and got a rousing applause from Steelers Nation.  The three of us watched the drills and took pictures – soaking in every second we could.  As the team went back to the locker room, we made our way up up up up to our seats on the upper level – I said they were free, not 50 yard liners.  We had your basic nose bleed ‘broadcast’ view of the field.  I don’t mind those so much.  From an analyst’s opinion, you can really see the plays developing from up there – so I didn’t mind it too much.

The Steelers elected to have the defense take the field first, and after a stop on a decent drive by the Rams, the offense took the field.  You could tell that many people were on the edge of their seats, uncertain of how well Batch would play this game.   Chants of ‘Charlie, Charlie!’ erupted after he avoided an early sack, scrambled and connected on a pass down field.  My dad leaned over to us and yelled, ‘Ben must have changed his number to 16 today!’  It was truly a Roethlisber’gian type play.  Well well well, things are looking good early on for Batch and the offense.  Besides the interception – AB’s fault as he clearly slipped on his break – Batch was lights out.

Batch managed the game very well.  There was a delay of game penalty called, but even from up high you could tell he was pissed at the sidelines for not getting the play in in time.  He never panicked when the pocket collapsed.  He stepped into his throws, and for the most part, was fairly accurate.  He almost threw a touchdown pass to Wallace.  They never did show the replay on the big board, so none of us knew how close Wallace was to getting into the endzone after catching the pass.  But, boy did that stadium explode in celebration.  The ‘Charlie’ chants got even louder at that point.  Guy still has an arm after all these years.

The running game helped take most of the pressure off Batch.  As well it should have – the Rams are the worst rushing defense in the league.  They give up 154 yards per game, and the Steelers rushed for 169.  Mendenhall had 116 yards in 18 carries.  His first 100 yard rushing game since week 6 and only his second all season (anyone else get a vile taste in their mouth in reading that???).  And let’s face it, most of those yards came on a big 52 yard run.  Props needs to go out to the offensive line.  We’ve been hard on them all season, but every week they are able to find ways to help this team win.  There are very few offenses and linemen who would be able to have some sort of semblance with all the injuries and carousel like rotations going on.  Game ball SHOULD go out to Trai Essex.  Essex moved to center after Legursky went down with a shoulder strain.  Not one snap was botched.  Essex has played every position on the line this season.  That’s pretty incredible.  I’m sure it hasn’t gone without it’s own bumps along the way – but that’s one hell of an accomplishment by a utility lineman.  Sure as hell wouldn’t see that out of Kemoeatu.