DENVER -- A Continental Airlines spokesman said an investigation has determined that the Ravens were not in any danger when their charter flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Pittsburgh Saturday night, about 30 minutes after the team took off for Denver from Baltimore.
The plane changed its course after a light in the cockpit indicated falsely that an auxiliary power unit was overheating. The plane, which carried 98 people, including seven crew members, underwent maintenance checks in Pittsburgh for nearly two hours before taking off for Denver.
"It appears that it was an overly-sensitive heat sensor with the power unit," said Continental's Ned Walker. "As a precaution, the captain elected to divert the flight to Pittsburgh, and it was the proper thing to do. We are always going to err on the side of caution."
Team owner Art Modell, who flew into Denver yesterday, said he talked by phone with vice president/director of public relations Kevin Byrne during the delay in Pittsburgh. The incident left Modell feeling a bit unnerved.
"Just hearing about it scared me," Modell said. "It didn't help our mood today."
Asked if the scary flight affected the team at all at Mile High Stadium, Ravens guard Wally Williams shook his head.
"Once the game started, it wasn't on anybody's mind," Williams said. "Now that the game is over, everybody is thinking about it again, because we have to get back on a plane again."
Turner is back
Wide receiver Floyd Turner, who has battled injuries to his knee and calf and until yesterday had been mainly an afterthought in the Ravens offensive game plan, staked his claim to a starting job with an excellent showing against the Broncos.
Turner, starting in place of Calvin Williams as the third receiver in the team's three-receiver set, solidified his hold on the job by making seven catches for 57 yards and a touchdown.
"I feel pretty good for a change," Turner said. "I played a lot and really got into the flow of the game. For the first time, I really felt like part of the offense."
Turner's highlight came early in the third quarter, when the Ravens began their comeback from a 28-13 halftime deficit with a seven-play, 73-yard drive. On third-and-10 from the Denver 11, Turner slipped between two Broncos and hauled in a perfectly-thrown touchdown pass by Vinny Testaverde for Turner's first score of the season.
The Ravens' second-half comeback was especially impressive in light of the injury problems that gripped their offensive line. First, left tackle Tony Jones (ankle) did not start, ending his consecutive starts streak at 105. Then, late in the first half, rookie left guard Jonathan Ogden suffered a knee sprain and did not return.
Nevertheless, the Ravens scored 21 points in the third quarter -- coming into the game, they had scored only 13 third-quarter points this season -- with a left side of the line that included backups Jeff Blackshear at guard and Herman Arvie at tackle.
The killing blow came halfway through the final period, when center Steve Everitt left with an injury to his right pectoral muscle.
"It's a hard one to swallow," Testaverde said. "But we went into this game without our left tackle, then we lost our left guard, then we lost our center, but we never stopped playing hard. That says something about our guys."
Kicker Matt Stover said he almost had forgotten what it felt like to line up for a field goal. Not since the Ravens' last victory, a 17-10 decision over New Orleans on Sept. 29, had Stover gotten the chance to kick one.
Stover showed why he is still one of the NFL's top place-kickers. Early in the second quarter, his 46-yarder cut Denver's lead to 14-3. With 1: 51 left in the half, his 32-yarder pulled the Ravens to within 21-13.
"On the first one, I was standing there telling myself that it's been a while, but don't change a thing," said Stover.
Staying with 3-4
Defensive end Anthony Pleasant said the Ravens will stick with the 3-4 defense.
"The word is we don't have enough defensive linemen to go back to the 4-3," he said. "Their mind is already made up so we just have to go with what's done."
Pleasant said he was surprised the team switched to the 3-4.
"I was somewhat surprised that would happen because we stepped up in Indianapolis with the four guys that are on the field," he said. "I guess we all thought we'd build on that, but we didn't."
He also said the team has to stop making so many mental errors, and that the defense didn't get enough pressure on Broncos quarterback John Elway.
"Good football teams capitalize on the mistakes you make on defense," he said. "He [Elway] had a lot of time to throw the football. We didn't get a hit on him. That doesn't help."
Rushing with three linemen was an adjustment, too.
"We're so accustomed to rushing with the four-man front. I'm not used to rushing on the inside. I'm used to rushing on the outside," he said.
Coach Ted Marchibroda complimented the Ravens for playing hard, but defensive lineman James Jones took little consolation in that.
"The game is about winning," Jones said. "Nobody cares how hard you play. You can play lousy and win and the only thing that's going to show up is that you won the football game.
"My spirits are down right now because we lost. Anytime I lose, I'm not happy. Hopefully, in a couple of days I'll be able to regroup and come back and try and play better.
"This is going to test our resolve as a team, especially the defense, to try to bounce back from this game and learn from it. It's going to be a tough learning session."
Jones said the team lacks consistency.
"We just didn't do a good enough job to win the football game. That was the bottom line," he said. "The good teams are fairly consistent throughout the whole season. We tend to break down and everybody seems to take their turns.
"Everybody's got to know where they've got to be on defense and then just get there. Today, myself, I know I blew a couple of assignments. You can't win doing that. You've got to look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'Am I doing the best I can?' If you are, there's not much more you can do, but if you can do something else better, then you've got to go out and do that."
On the switch to the 3-4 alignment, Jones said, "Our coaches do what they feel is best for our team. If they say we switch to the 3-4, we switch to the 3-4 and do the best we can."
There's much talk in Denver because there's going to be a measure on the ballot next year to build a new stadium for the Broncos by extending the tax that built Coors Field for the Rockies.
The Rocky Mountain News ran a cartoon of Ravens owner Modell, who attended the game, pointing to a blackboard that read, "Welcome to 'Build Me a Stadium or Else' 101."
On his desk was a book titled, "How to move an NFL franchise."
The cartoon shows Denver owner Pat Bowlen making notes with the sign "Mr. Modell's class" on the door.
Bowlen hasn't threatened to move the team if the measure fails to pass, but he has said Mile High Stadium does not produce enough revenue for the Broncos.
How times change
A month ago, linebacker Keith Goganious was waiting for the phone call that would lead him to a job. Yesterday, Goganious had his hands full as a starting inside linebacker in the Ravens' new 3-4 alignment. He made four solo tackles in a day that he and his defensive mates would like to forget.
"I was a little off in the first half, but I thought I played pretty well in the second half," said Goganious, who started in place of the injured Mike Caldwell. "I'm just glad I got a chance."
Ravens receiver Michael Jackson caught seven passes for 92 yards, reaching the 200-catch plateau. Elway surpassed Minnesota's Warren Moon, who was idle, in two categories. Elway moved into third place in NFL history in completions (3,499) and into third place in passing yards (43,418), behind Dan Marino and Fran Tarkenton in both categories. Denver's 6-1 start is the team's best since 1989, when the Broncos also started 6-1 en route to an 11-5 season and their last Super Bowl appearance.
The Ravens trailed 28-13 at the half yesterday, following a season-long trend of falling into early deficits:
.. .. .. .. ..1st q. .. .. 2nd q. .. .. .Tot.
Ravens .. .. ...21 .. .. ...54 .. .. .. .. 75
Opponents .. .. 51 .. .. ...72 .. .. .. ..123
.. .. .. .. ..3rd q. .. ...4th q. .. .. .Tot.
Ravens .. .. ...34 .. .. .. .50 .. .. .. ..84
Opponents .. ...37 .. .. .. .41 .. .. .. ..78
Pub Date: 10/21/96