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THE NFL / 1996

Ravens Go the Distance, 31-17

AFC: Baltimore avoids usual collapse as Testaverde has big game in upset of Steelers.

December 02, 1996|From Associated Press

BALTIMORE — Vinny Testaverde and Bam Morris accomplished what no one had this season. As a result, the Baltimore Ravens avoided doing what they seemingly always do--blow a fourth-quarter lead.

Morris, playing against his former team for the first time, became the first running back to gain 100 yards against Pittsburgh this season, and Testaverde became the first quarterback to throw three touchdown passes against the Steelers as the Ravens ended a four-game losing streak with a 31-17 victory Sunday.

Playing in a driving rain, the Ravens (4-9) prevented the Steelers (9-4) from clinching at least a tie for their third consecutive AFC Central division crown.

Pittsburgh had won six consecutive regular-season games against the Ravens, dating back to when the franchise was in Cleveland. Testaverde had been involved in all of them, including a 31-17 loss earlier this season.

"They've been a thorn in our side the last couple of years. Even though we're not looking at the playoffs this year, it's still something to build on for the near future," Testaverde said. "That team was in the Super Bowl last year, and looks like they could go again this year."

Testaverde was 17 for 24 for 259 yards against the NFL's top-rated pass defense, and receiver Derrick Alexander accounted for 198 of those yards on seven receptions.

Morris, who finished with exactly 100 yards rushing, carried 28 times, including 10 times for 41 yards in the final 15 minutes.

The Ravens held the ball for nearly 10 minutes of the fourth quarter, a big reason why they were able to avoid losing a fourth-quarter lead for the fifth time this year.

"No, it wasn't just another win," said Morris, released by Pittsburgh after being arrested on drug charges during the off-season. "It's my first as a Raven, and it's a good feeling.

"I've got no hard feelings against the Steelers. They made their decision. I'm a Raven now."

Morris was instrumental in helping the Ravens hold the lead that Alexander helped build. Playing against a defense that had given up an NFL-low 186 passing yards per game, he continually worked himself free on the soggy turf, compiling 166 receiving yards and a score in the first half to help Baltimore take a 24-10 lead.

"I'm frustrated because on a lot of plays we helped them out," safety Darren Perry said. "We didn't tackle well today and they made yards off that."

The Steelers quickly got within a touchdown, and it appeared as if the Ravens were poised to blow a fourth-quarter lead for the fifth time this season. But Testaverde threw a three-yard touchdown pass to former Steeler Eric Green with 12:22 left, and the Ravens held on.

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