Knowing defense isn't enough to beat it NFL WEEK 2; STEELERS 31, RAVENS 17


PITTSBURGH -- The Ravens thought they had an edge yesterday because their defensive coordinator -- former Pittsburgh linebackers coach Marvin Lewis -- knows the Steelers' defense inside and out.

What they overlooked is that the Steelers also know it well -- although Lewis uses a slightly different variation -- and they have better players, despite their rash of injuries and the loss of quarterback Neil O'Donnell.

The Steelers scored touchdowns the first three times they had the ball against the outmanned Ravens defense en route to a 31-17 victory.

The Steelers also know how to defense Vinny Testaverde, who has yet to beat them in the seven times he has started and finished against them.

The highlights and lowlights of the Ravens' first loss.

The Vinny file: Score it as a TKO for the Steelers. Testaverde went all the way, but was hampered by the inconsistency that has been his trademark. Displaying little of the form he showed in the opener, Testaverde was battered with shots to his ribs -- he'll likely get X-rays -- and elbow, and spent a long time in the trainer's room afterward.

His worst plays were the interception Rod Woodson ran back on the second play of the game and a second-quarter fumble that led to a Steelers touchdown.

The turning point: Woodson's interception seemed to set the tone, even though the Ravens came back to score touchdowns on their next two drives. As Steelers linebacker Chad Brown said, "That let them know they're still the Cleveland Browns and we're still the Pittsburgh Steelers."

For the want of a shoe: With the Ravens on the Steelers' 2 and threatening to score and cut the deficit to a touchdown with five minutes left, Earnest Hunter got his only carry because Leroy Hoard came off after losing a shoe and Earnest Byner had a sore toe. Hunter promptly fumbled to kill the Ravens' last chance to get in the game. Fullback Carwell Gardner would have been a better choice at that point.

The no-huddle: The Ravens tried the no-huddle offense late in the second quarter and on their first two third-quarter drives, but it was so ineffective that they abandoned it. Pittsburgh appeared to be much more prepared for it than Oakland was last week.

The savvy veteran: Woodson has lost a step after missing most of last season with a knee injury and he gave up a touchdown pass, but he still has a knack for coming up with the big play. He returned an interception for a touchdown, came close to picking off two more and recovered a fumble.

The zebras: The officials appeared to blow a critical call on the Ravens' first possession of the third quarter. Derrick Alexander seemed to get a first down at the Baltimore 41 with a 4-yard catch. The chain gang moved the sticks before the officials stopped the play and ruled third-and-one, as coach Ted Marchibroda waved his arms in protest. Hoard then was stopped for no gain, and the Ravens had to punt.

Execution: When former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach John McKay once was asked about what he thought of his team's execution, he said, "I'm all for it." The most popular quote in the Ravens' locker room was, "We didn't execute." The Steelers didn't do anything the Ravens didn't expect, but they couldn't stop it. Poor tackling was a major problem; the Ravens' defense often turned 2-yard gains into 8-yard runs.

Clank: Mike Tomczak threw a third-quarter pass right into the chest of Ravens safety Stevon Moore. Moore couldn't get his hands up fast enough for the interception, and it fell to the ground.

First downs: Third downs are supposed to be critical, but as Marchibroda said, the Ravens lost this game on first down. On their first 12 first downs, while scoring their first three touchdowns, the Steelers averaged 10 yards a play.

Almost: Jermaine Lewis had a shot to break a kickoff in the second quarter when he veered to the right and had a lot of green in front of him. But Steelers safety Myron Bell made a one-on-one tackle at the Baltimore 32.

Next week: The Ravens go to Houston to face a lame-duck Oilers team that defeated Jacksonville, 34-27, yesterday. The Oilers won't get much help from the home crowd, so the Ravens have a shot at their first road win.

Vinny vs. Steelers

A look at Ravens quarterback Vinny Testaverde's past six starts against Pittsburgh:

Date .. .. .C .. ..A .. ..Yds. .. ..TD .. ..Int

1/2/94 .. .15 .. .30 .. ..249 .. .. .0 .. .. .0

9/11/94 ...19 .. .37 .. ..211 .. .. .1 .. .. .4

11/18/94 ..21 .. .42 .. ..250 .. .. .1 .. .. .2

1/7/95 . ..13 .. .31 .. ..144 .. .. .1 .. .. .2

11/26/95 ..20 .. .33 .. ..178 .. .. .1 .. .. .2

9/8/96 .. .13 .. .24 .. ..159 .. .. .1 .. .. .1

Totals .. 101 ...197 .. .1191 .. .. .5 .. ...11

Pub Date: 9/09/96

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad