Who will be quarterback next week? Tomlin isn't sure
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Starting quarterback Dennis Dixon left with a knee injury in the second quarter Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. For a while, backup Charlie Batch, under defensive duress, appeared to be headed toward a similar fate.
Amazingly, so did the Steelers' moribund offense in a 19-11 win that was the result of a stout defense and opportunistic special teams play.
"I was trying to do anything I can to help this team win,'' said Batch, who completed 5 of 11 passes for 25 yards. "That was going in there and executing the game plan.''
With Dixon sidelined, Batch was the only Steelers quarterback dressed and eligible to play, although coach Mike Tomlin said Dixon could have returned and "handed the ball off to finish the game.''
"If I had to go in the game, I would have done it,'' Dixon said.
Wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, who played quarterback at Indiana well enough to receive Heisman Trophy consideration his senior year, could have played quarterback in an emergency. He wasn't needed.
Byron Leftwich was released Saturday in a roster move, so the Steelers could sign nose tackle Steve McLendon because Casey Hampton was out with a hamstring injury.
Leftwich is expected to re-sign today, which could create a logjam to see which quarterback will start next week at Tampa Bay -- Dixon, Leftwich or Batch. Ben Roethlisberger, serving a four-game suspension, won't be eligible until after the Steelers' bye week.
"I don't know who is going to play quarterback. I know it won't be me. I'm not good enough,'' Tomlin said.
If he receives good news regarding his MRI, Dixon wants to start against the Buccaneers.
"Will I be ready next week• Yeah, I think I can. I planted wrong, it didn't feel right after that,'' said Dixon, who rushed for 28 yards on three carries and suffered the injury while running with the ball on his final series of the game. "If it's something serious, I want to be able to rehab. But I don't think it is.''
Dixon, who was 4 of 6 for 18 yards, described his afternoon this way: "It started off rocky as far as communication. But things started to slow down after that.''
The Steelers generated 127 total yards and seven first downs. Neither quarterback guided the offense to a touchdown.
"We are leaving a lot of offense on the field,'' said Batch, who also wants consideration in the quarterback derby.
"I always want to throw my hat in the ring,'' Batch said. "It's just a matter of if the opportunity presents itself. You never know when your number is going to be called.''