RB Rashard Mendenhall’s return is questionable – appeared headed to the locker room.
In his place Isaac Redman picks up a key first down on 4th and 1.
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RB Rashard Mendenhall was injured near the end of the first quarter. Isaac Redman now in the game. At the end of the first quarter – Steelers 0, Browns 0.
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The Steelers were forced to punt, pinning the Browns deep. The defense then held the Browns to another three-and-out.
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The Steelers defense forced their second three-and-out. Troy Polamalu started the drive off by sacking Browns QB Seneca Wallace.
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The Steelers were unable to convert on 4th and 3 and turn the ball over on downs.
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The Steelers kicked off to start the game. The Browns went three-and-out to open the game thanks to a sack by Lawrence Timmons.
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Tags: Brett Keisel
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The following players are inactive for the Steelers vs. the Browns:
WR – Arnaz Battle
LB – Chris Carter
G – Doug Legursky
T – Jamon Meredith
RB – Mewelde Moore
LB – LaMarr Woodley
DE – Al Woods
Chris Kemoeatu will start at LG
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Only two players have been ruled out for Sunday’s game in Cleveland, G Doug Legursky (shoulder) and RB Mewelde Moore (knee).
Linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) did not practice on Friday and is doubtful, while fellow linebacker Chris Carter (hamstring) is questionable.
Probable are LB James Harrison (neck), S Troy Polamalu (knee), C Maurkice Pouncey (ankle), QB Ben Roethlisberger (ankle), WR Emmanuel Sanders (foot), and WR Mike Wallace (ankle).
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Charlie Batch led the Steelers to a 27-0 win over the St. Louis Rams at Heinz Field on Saturday, Christmas Eve. About an hour after the game ended and everyone was heading home, it was time for Batch to play Santa.
What has become a yearly tradition continued this year when Batch delivered toys to 20 families in Homestead and the surrounding areas.
Batch got help collecting those toys when he hosted his annual Batch of Toys drive through his Best of the Batch Foundation.
The toys were distributed to local women’s shelters, the Salvation Army and to the families that Batch gets to be a “Secret Santa” for.
“To be able to deliver those toys is what says it all,” said Batch. “The smiles are unbelievable when you are delivering the toys. You knock on the door and the mother comes down, the kids peek out to see who is at the door. They are surprised to see me. I am just there to drop off the toys to them.”
It’s more than toys he delivers, though. He delivers what truly is the Christmas spirit.
“Whenever you see the parents they start crying,” said Batch. “They give you a big hug to thank you. It’s about understanding how special that moment is. They tell you that without the toys they wouldn’t be able to give their kids a Christmas.
“I am an emotional person. You try to stay strong and then you are like I have to go and you are wiping your eyes as you walk away. Those are things you see. That is one of the moments you live for.”
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Can you talk about the play early on that you ducked out of a sack and dumped the ball off to Rashard Mendenhall? Did you feel like Ben Roethlisberger on the play?
Actually I didn’t see the guy behind me. I knew that there was a little bit of slippage on the right hand side so I was looking to avoid one guy, and it turned out to be two. I ended up coming out and saw Rashard on a flat route. He did a really good job getting up field and was able to make a really good play out of nothing. It turned from being a negative play to a positive play, and it was able to kind of get us going in that game.
How did you feel that you did overall?
I thought that I did OK, we won, obviously, I would like to have the interception back. That is something that you can’t do in turning the football over. Yes, we scored 27 points, but we had opportunities to put 35 points on the board, we just weren’t able to get it in the end zone during that time. There is always room for improvement.
How often have you taken snaps from Trai Essex, and how did he play?
Trai played phenomenal. He never really played center, but he trained himself to become a center just in case he needed to be called upon. He did a really good job on the scout team playing center, and that was something that I was able to work with him over the course of the last three to four months. Now to come into a situation that he did, it really was great because I’m used to him. He was able to identify everything that he needed to identify and keep everything moving. It was phenomenal.
Does it make you feel good to do this in a city that you have been so much associated with, and to keep this team moving in the right direction for the playoffs?
It is something that everybody on this team looks for and takes the opportunity, because Coach Tomlin always calls out a new guy during a team meeting and says here is your opportunity, shine. Nobody wants to let this team down. For me it was the same way, you just go out there when your number is called and now you have to perform. One thing about it is we just try to keep the ball rolling, whoever is in there. If I get my number called I just go out there and do whatever I need to do to help this team get a win.
When you go that long between starts, do you know what you have left in you, or do you find out as you go out there?
Going through practice you are being evaluated by the head coach, because you are going against the starting defense. Even though we don’t watch the film the next morning, the head coach is watching it. So we are being evaluated that way. For him to ultimately make a decision moving forward, he is able to put film on of seeing this guy practice, now we just have to see if he can transition over into the games. That’s something for me, you go through the periods of time without starting, but you still welcome those opportunities. It’s a lot easier when you know you are going to start during the week, even though in this case I didn’t. Going in as the back-up, Ben takes all the snaps, and if something happens in the game, third and twelve, you have to go in and complete a pass after sitting for two hours. That is the part of the job description that is the dirty part of the job. I’m not complaining, that is just part of my job, and if I get called upon this team feels that I am capable of doing the job and that feels great.
What did it mean to you to hear the crowd chanting your name?
It felt great, because I don’t get the opportunities that much. My last game was the Baltimore game here last year, and we lost. That is still stuck in my mind, because that was my last start. We had an opportunity to win that game and we didn’t. You just don’t know when it is going to happen again. To come out here and get the start at home it was great, because I think that they have appreciated what I have done, and what I am doing to help this team win. I embraced it, it was a special moment.
Hines is so close to a milestone. How aware are you guys during the flow of the game, or when you guys are calling plays, about getting 86 the ball?
You can, sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. You can’t get so in tuned trying to get Hines Ward the ball, especially because they are sending double teams to Hines, because on third down, he’s our guy. He has been that way his whole career. So, you’re conscious of it, but you just have to lead your reads take you where they take you. But I know he’s close, and I’m sure you will all talk about it this week.
Are you hoping to start next week?
Right now, I don’t know because I thought I was going to start last week. Every week is different. Would I want to start? Absolutely I would want to start next week. I don’t know how everything is going to shake out. I don’t know how Ben’s ankle is going to be. Ben might say I need some reps before we head into the playoffs. Ultimately, it is up to Coach Tomlin and Ben to make that decision. I think now that we have four, five days off, Coach might say lets wait till Thursday or Friday of next week to allow Ben to make the decision whether or not to start.
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DE Brett Keisel
“It’s about playing good ball at the right time. We need to build off of this win and hopefully get one next week and carry that into the dance.”
Does having done it before help?
“It doesn’t hurt. We know it can be done. We’re not the only team to have done it either. We are just trying to keep winning games and let the chips fall where they may.”
You had a lot of distractions today if you were looking for them. How did you put it aside and keep your eye on the ball?
“We have a goal defensively to have the No. 1 defense in the league. Letting them get 100 yards rushing probably didn’t help us today, but that was kind of our focus today – to go out and play tough defense and see what happens. Obviously, the goose egg is nice. Anytime you can hold an NFL team to nothing is nice. We should thank their kicker probably. But we’re just happy to get this win. We said last week after we got beat on the West Coast that we needed to respond. You have to give they guys that stepped in credit. Charlie [Batch], the guys on the offensive line, Trai Essex stepping in and playing center – we couldn’t have won without those guys playing winning football.”
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WR Antonio Brown
You set the record today for all-purpose yards. What are you thoughts on the win and the record?
“It’s prestigious. I play for one of the greatest organizations and to have something like that is special. I’m just thankful. Today we were able to come out and get a win and finish the season in the home stadium with a win. I’m looking to going on the road next week against the Cleveland Browns.”
Were you aware that were close to the record?
“No. I didn’t have an idea about the record.”
How did you find out about it?
“When they announced it. I knew I was close to 1,000 yards receiving, so that’s what I was kind of thinking about.”
You also made two tackles today. Can you talk about that fake punt? How far away from the line of scrimmage were you and how did you end up tackling the punter?
“I was about 35 [or] 40 yards deep. I saw at the snap of the ball [that] he was kind of holding the ball like he was throwing a pass. So I hurried down to make a stop. On the interception, I slipped out of my break. Charlie [Batch] made a good throw and I was able to come up with the tackle on that one too.”
What is your take on the season? You continue to get better and better.
“I continue to improve [and] continue to perfect the fundamentals of the game. I continue to provide situational plays to help my team win the game. And that’s what it is about.”
A lot of people didn’t think you even knew the plays last year. Do you know a whole lot more now?
“I was always capable. I always knew I was able to play. It was just a matter of getting the opportunity. I don’t know what was said about me about not knowing, but I can’t control what’s being said. The only thing I control is when I go out there and play. And I’m thankful this year [that] I got the opportunity. Hopefully, you guys see the result.”
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WR Hines Ward
Comments on Charlie Batch
“It’s awesome. For him to come out [and] execute our plays speaks volumes about Charlie. I was excited for him [and] happy for him. If need be, maybe we can give Ben [Roethlisberger] another week to get his ankle healed up before we head into the postseason.”
Antonio Brown broke the franchise record for all-purpose yards that dated back to Barry Foster in 1992. Can you talk about his year?
“It’s phenomenal, considering where the kid came from – his whole story – and now here he is. When he touches the ball, special things always happen. I haven’t seen somebody with that big-play capability since Randle El. Every time, on punt returns, I stand up because it could be the one to take [to the endzone]. So hopefully, he will continue to gain confidence in the playoffs and make a name for himself in the postseason.”
Where is he this year as opposed to last year?
“Night and day, just seeing him, his confidence level [and] his understanding. We’re always constantly working with him to help him better understand coverages. The kid is just a hard worker. That’s what I love about him. He’s passionate [and] he always wants to outwork everybody. He’s always asking me questions and stuff. So he’s just a great student of the game. When I guy like that, with that potential, has that will to get better each day you step on the practice field, good things will always happen to him.”
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WR Mike Wallace
Take us through the bomb that almost resulted in a touchdown. Did you think you had it?
“I thought I fell close to it. Those calls have been close the last few weeks and they’ve been taking my touchdowns away. I don’t know what I’ve been doing. I might be living wrong. I need to start doing a couple more right things, I guess. But it’s all good. It is what it is. We got the win.”
Everybody contributed today.
“That’s about being a team. Our running backs had a big day. [John] Clay got a touchdown. [Isaac Redman] got a touchdown and [Rashard Mendenhall] got a touchdown. So it was a big day for our running backs. Our receivers did okay. We didn’t drop too many balls or anything like that. It was just a matter of opportunity. The running game was really working well today. Those guys did a great job.”
And it seems like the defense did what they are supposed to do against that unit.
“They did. We expect nothing less as we go into the playoffs. We expect those guys to keep doing what they are doing and be the best in the world like they are.”
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RB John Clay
“We just had to pick up for everybody. A lot of people went out, so us, as a team, and as professionals, had to step up to the plate and contribute in any aspect.”
At what point did you know you were going to get the call to dress this week?
“Early in the week, there was a possibility that I could get moved up. It was finalized on Friday.”
On your touchdown play, did you know you were going to be the guy to go in?
“Coach just told me to go in there and give [Rashard Mendenhall] a spell. And that’s what I did.”
What was it like to cross the goal line for the first time in your career?
“There was so much excitement and joy. Too bad my family wasn’t here to share it, but I know they were watching TV. I was just happy that I could do that for my family.”
It really opened up, didn’t it?
“It did. They plugged everybody up on the inside, and I was able to bounce it out. I just had to make one guy miss, and I did.”
You’ve had some ups and downs since you got drafted. How much does it feel like it paid off by getting a touchdown in the home finale?
“A lot. They had a lot of hopes for me coming in here. They said I was a special guy that could do special things for them on offense and on special teams. So with them giving me the opportunity, I took advantage of each one.”
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