Steelers film session: Batch botches rare start
One of Charlie Batch's greatest assets has been his accuracy.
Even though Batch finished with a completion percentage comparable to his career average (56.8 percent) Sunday against Cleveland, the 37-year-old was far from being accurate, and it could've been because of three things — an early defensive touchdown, fumbles and play calling.
Because of three first-half fumbles, Lawrence Timmons' interception return and Todd Haley's game plan of not asking a lot out of Batch early in the game, the veteran didn't attempt his first pass until 24 real minutes after the opening kickoff, and that was a screen pass 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage to Jonathan Dwyer.
Batch's next pass came 10 minutes after that and was off the mark to Heath Miller. On the ensuing play, Batch had his throw batted down.
The throw after that?
Try 20 more real minutes later — a pass 2 yards down the field. After a run and a short completion to Emmanuel Sanders, Batch's next pass sailed over Miller's head toward the near sideline, followed by a throw well over Mike Wallace's head down the sidelines.
Through 78 real minutes — or at approximately 2:20 p.m. — Batch had attempted eight passes.
Batch finished with 199 yards on 20 of 34 passing, but he never was able to find his rhythm with his accuracy — especially to Wallace.
Batch threw behind Wallace, which led to an interception; threw underneath Wallace on a timing route to the sidelines; underthrew him on a sure touchdown deep down the middle; and underthrew him with three minutes left in the game, which led to Joe Haden's interception.
At least nine of Batch's 14 incompletions were because of inaccuracy.
• Haley made a clear adjustment at halftime, and that was to get Batch some easy throws in order to allow him to regain his confidence. Haley called four consecutive screen passes to open the second half; two of them were nullified because of penalties. Batch completed a wide receiver screen to Wallace, a middle screen to Miller, a delayed screen to Chris Rainey and another middle screen to Miller. Every pass was at least 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
• There's no debating that veteran safety Will Allen has played well in the absence of Troy Polamalu, but Sunday wasn't one of those games. Allen dropped an easy interception down the field a minute into the game and was the main culprit in the Browns' first touchdown — Jordan Cameron's 5-yard catch on a third-and-goal early in the second quarter. Allen was playing press coverage on Jordan, who was in the slot to the left. Allen missed the jam and let Jordan get to his outside shoulder. Larry Foote's responsibility was inside so that he was unable to get to Cameron coming from across the formation. Allen allowed all three passes thrown his way to be completed and missed three tackles.
• Recently signed Plaxico Burress had only 11 snaps against the Browns and no catches. The Steelers used him primarily on third downs. Burress took nine snaps from the X receiver position and one from the slot, with seven coming on third down. Burress played three consecutive plays at the end of the half and drew a pass interference penalty in the end zone that led to the Steelers' only offensive touchdown. Burress was targeted twice but did not have a catch.
• Ryan Clark, Lawrence Timmons, Ike Taylor and Keenan Lewis continued to play at a Pro Bowl level, and Brett Keisel and James Harrison have quietly strung together a handful of strong games. But nobody played as well as Jason Worilds. Worilds played 58 snaps after LaMarr Woodley injured his ankle. Worilds showed that he is becoming a complete player; he had four solo tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and a pass defense.