Batch started Sunday at Tampa Bay only because Dennis Dixon had left knee surgery last week and Byron Leftwich was recovering from a left knee injury. Yet Batch completed 12 of 17 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns -- his first scoring passes since 2007.
Leftwich, expected to start throughout Roethlisberger's four-game suspension, is healthy, but Tomlin said Tuesday that Batch earned the right to remain in the lineup. He did it through his play -- he's 4-1 as a fill-in starter since joining the Steelers in 2002 -- and through his perseverance.
Batch played only one game the previous two seasons because of injuries, and his perceived fragility was partly why Tomlin started the inexperienced Dixon in the first two games. Batch declined to criticize the decision, nor did he complain when it seemed likely the Steelers (3-0) would cut him before Leftwich was hurt during the Sept. 2 preseason finale.
"Guys have a great deal of confidence in him," Tomlin said. "He's a man who's taken advantage of an opportunity, and you've got to be happy for him. It's an awesome lesson learned for our young players, one I hope they're taking heed to. This league is about perseverance, this profession is about perseverance and taking advantage of opportunities when they're given. He's given them a shining, clear-cut example of that at this juncture."
Dixon will be out for up to six weeks, but the Steelers don't plan to put him on the injured reserve list.
Tomlin won't dispute that his players' determination to prove their season wouldn't be derailed by Roethlisberger's four-game suspension has played into their 3-0 start. The Steelers can go 4-0 for the first time since 1979 by beating the Ravens (2-1), who have lost nine of their last 10 games at Heinz Field.
"I just acknowledge we're dealing with a situation here and we acknowledge the fact that some of this situation is our doing," Tomlin said. "We've got to fight our way out of it. I think that's more the mentality of our team than anything else."
While the Steelers' unbeaten record is largely the result of a defense that hasn't allowed a touchdown in the first three quarters, Baltimore's defense is No. 1 overall. Pittsburgh is No. 6, dragged down partly by a No. 17 ranking against the pass.
The Ravens are No. 1 against the pass, but they are only 23rd against the run after allowing Cleveland's Peyton Hillis to run for 144 yards during Baltimore's 24-17 victory Sunday.
Tomlin saw that statistic and went, "Uh, oh."
"The fact Cleveland had some success doesn't bode well for us. I'd felt better if Peyton Hillis had run for 40 as opposed to 140 because I know the type of men that play for that (Baltimore) team," Tomlin said. "Great defenses like the Baltimore Ravens usually bounce back quickly."
The status of backup nose tackle Chris Hoke (sprained knee) and right guard Trai Essex (ankle) will be determined later in the week. Essex was replaced against Tampa Bay by Doug Legursky, who made his first NFL start.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press