PITTSBURGH -- Ravens quarterback Vinny Testaverde was expected to have his ribs X-rayed last night or this morning. Testaverde was hurt on a 6-yard touchdown run midway in the first quarter of yesterday's 31-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Testaverde said the injury had no bearing on his performance. He completed 13 of 24 passes for 159 yards, with one interception.
"I wasn't woozy or lightheaded for the rest of the game," said Testaverde. "We continued to run all the routes we have in our offense. I'm not trying to use this as an excuse or anything. I'll be OK. I'm more disappointed right now than I am sore."
It was tough playing at Three Rivers Stadium as a Cleveland Brown, and it wasn't much different as a Baltimore Raven.
"It's the same environment and some of the same players over there," said Ravens offensive tackle Tony Jones. "The only thing is that our uniforms are different and we have a different name. But it's the same atmosphere and we knew it was going to be loud, physical and tough. We knew we had to try to take the crowd out of it."
Modell not forgotten
The Pittsburgh-Art Modell rivalry is alive and well.
The Ravens owner was never popular in Pittsburgh, and now Steelers fans are unhappy that their most heated rivalry is in limbo until the new Cleveland Browns start play by 1999.
Modell didn't attend the game, but he wasn't forgotten.
One sign read: "The Greatest Rivalry In Sports Killed by Art Modell."
There were two more signs next to each other. One pointed to a poster that had Modell's head on top of a crow and read, "Does this guy sound like a raven lunatic or what?"
On the other sign, Modell was quoted as saying, "Awk, We're going to the Super Bowl. Nevermore, Nevermore. Awk."
There was much Modell bashing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. One news columnist wrote, "Modell says calling us 'hard-drinking' and 'menacing' was a compliment. Funny, that's exactly how we feel when we call him a liar. For Art, 'liar' is a step up."
One fan with mixed emotions was Ernie Kellermann, a Cleveland defensive back from 1966 to 1971 who was invited by some Steelers fans to come to the game.
"Art will never be welcome in Cleveland, but I have mixed emotions because I used to have genuine dislike and hatred for the Steelers. But for Cleveland not to have a team is an outrage," Kellermann said.
For want of a shoe . . .
Leroy Hoard ended up in the Ravens' starting lineup literally at the last second. Starter Earnest Byner suffered a toe injury on the opening kickoff, forcing Hoard to come off the bench sooner than he had expected.
Hoard gradually took over in the second half, when Byner was limited to one carry. Hoard finished with 13 carries for 54 yards, both team highs, and his performance on the Ravens' last significant drive was his most encouraging sequence of the season.
He carried five times for 29 yards on that drive, including a 10-yard charge up the middle to the Pittsburgh 2.
Then, he ran off the field carrying his shoe, which had been ripped off when he was tackled. The ensuing fumble by Earnest Hunter kept him on the sidelines.
"There was no way I could put it back on in 20 or 30 seconds," Hoard said. "It was just one of those unlucky things."
As for his performance, and how it may thrust him to the top of the depth chart again, Hoard shrugged.
"You can't make this more than what it is. Earnest was hurt, the next guy had to step up, and I was the next guy," he said.
A Tomczak fan
Quarterback/receiver Kordell Stewart, who would like a chance to become a full-time quarterback, nonetheless became a Mike Tomczak believer yesterday.
"He just got out there and did some things I was very excited about," said Stewart, who rushed for 26 yards on four carries and caught two passes for 22 yards. "He was keeping us relaxed, keeping us going."
Steelers inside linebacker Levon Kirkland wrote the numbers of some missing defensive mates on his wristband: 95 for linebacker Greg Lloyd (knee), 97 for defensive end Ray Seals (shoulder), and 92 for linebacker Jason Gildon (knee).
"We're missing a lot of stars," said Kirkland. But the Steelers compensated, moving insider Chad Brown into Lloyd's spot, backup Jerry Olsavsky into Brown's spot and replacing Gildon (plus injured backup Steve Conley) with Eric Ravotti. Ravotti's only previous NFL start came against Cleveland last November -- at inside linebacker.
"They got some plays on us early," Kirkland said of the Ravens, who scored on their second and third possessions while amassing 63 of their 97 total yards rushing. "Then we settled down.
"Last week, we took some blows and we started walking around. Today, I could see the old defense of ours coming back, that old attitude . . . a bad-boy attitude."
Rising to challenge
People wondered if Steelers cornerback Rod Woodson was human again after returning from knee surgery and getting burned a week ago in Jacksonville and taking off a day or two of practice each week.
He got burned again yesterday, when he looked and broke too short on Derrick Alexander's second-quarter touchdown reception. But he added a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown on Testaverde's first pass, nearly picked off another and finished with five tackles, two pass deflections and a fumble recovery.
"Vinny threw it a little bit behind the receiver, but you take anything that comes to you," Woodson said of the interception.
"If he continues to play like he's playing now, he can take off as much time as he wants," safety Carnell Lake said. "He looked very crisp today. No hesitation."
Said Alexander: "Maybe he's a little slower, but he still knows how to do it."
Reading the enemy
A man seen wearing an old Bernie Kosar jersey is a Browns fan born and bred, even though Bob Edmonds lives in Pittsburgh nowadays. He has a few friends back home who covertly keep tabs on their former heroes.
"There's a couple guys in Cleveland who get the Baltimore Sun," Edmonds said. "They get it, but they don't admit it."
Besides Byner and defensive end Anthony Pleasant -- whose streak of 28 consecutive regular-season starts ended when he sat out yesterday's game with a sprained right ankle -- cornerback Antonio Langham (ankle, ribs) and safety Bennie Thompson (strained groin muscle) also left the game with injuries. . . . One reason the Ravens lost was their inability to hang onto the football, and not just in the turnover area. They ran only 51 offensive plays to Pittsburgh's 68. After the first quarter, the Steelers had the ball for 30 minutes, 35 seconds. The Ravens held it for 14: 25. . . . Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown on playing the Steelers, "To us, it was the same. I've always been ticked off playing the Steelers. It's the same organization."
Pub Date: 9/09/96