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THE NFL WEEK 5 | PITTSBURGH 37, TENNESSEE 24

Stewart, Defense Break Out

September 29, 1997|From Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — This is what the Pittsburgh Steelers were waiting for--from the defense and, most of all, from quarterback Kordell Stewart.

Stewart, no longer restricted by a conservative game plan, opened up the Steeler offense with his deep throwing and ran for two touchdowns against Tennessee's confused defense in a 37-24 Pittsburgh victory Sunday.

Stewart figured in all but one Steeler touchdown--Jason Gildon's fumble return--with by far his most-complete game in the NFL. He clearly outplayed Steve McNair, who had two interceptions and was sacked seven times in a matchup of first-year starting quarterbacks.

"Was this my best game? Yes, that's obvious," Stewart said. "But it's not what I did, it's what we did as an offense and a defense. I was glad I wasn't playing against our defense."

Stewart was 16 for 34 passing for 244 yards--97 yards fewer than his first three games combined--and a touchdown. McNair was 22 for 43 for 266 yards and two touchdowns, both of them after the Oilers (1-3) fell behind 37-9.

The Pittsburgh defense, beaten often for long passes and unable to mount an effective pass rush this season, scored once and set up another touchdown with an interception.

Even kicker Norm Johnson got on the field, making three of four field-goal attempts after being used only once previously this season. His last-play field goal was blocked in last Monday night's loss to Jacksonville.

The Steelers changed their blitzing schemes, putting more pressure up the middle--especially after Oiler left guard Bruce Matthews suffered a knee injury--so McNair rarely had a clear look upfield.

The Oilers' Eddie George was held to 29 yards in 12 carries.

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