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SIDELINES

Some Good Things Came From the XFL

September 30, 2002

Tommy Maddox, fittingly enough, signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers to be an insurance policy if something happened to Kordell Stewart.

Something happened Sunday and, because the Steelers had the insurance salesman-turned-backup quarterback around, they rallied to beat Cleveland, 16-13, and avoid a possibly disastrous 0-3 start.

Maddox, the Broncos' first-round draft choice in 1992, left football to run his Dallas insurance agencies from 1997-99, only to revive his career in the XFL. He was the MVP of the L.A. Xtreme in the one and only XFL season.

Maddox then signed with Pittsburgh, but didn't play a meaningful down all last season as Stewart was the Steelers' MVP during a 13-3 season.

But with the Steelers down 13-6 late in the fourth quarter Sunday, Coach Bill Cowher turned to Maddox because he runs the no-huddle spread offense better than Stewart.

"It's the offense I've grown up in," Maddox said. "In the XFL, we had four and five receivers all the time. It spreads the field out and it gets the defense out of what they want to do."

Maddox needed two minutes to drive the Steelers 77 yards for the tying touchdown. In overtime, Maddox led another scoring drive that ended with Todd Peterson's decisive 31-yard field goal.

What a comeback--but, perhaps one not good enough for Maddox to replace Stewart as the starter in New Orleans on Sunday.

"I'm leaning toward starting Kordell," Cowher said. "If we need a lift, I will go to Tommy."

*

Coach Mike Sherman wants his Green Bay Packers to play with more passion.

So the usually reserved Sherman showed some fire of his own in a 17-14 win over Carolina.

With 1:50 left in the first half and the Packers looking lethargic, tight end Bubba Franks took a lateral from quarterback Brett Favre and appeared to throw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver that put Green Bay up, 10-7.

But official Ben Montgomery ruled the play included two forward passes and denied the touchdown. Sherman went ballistic.

After Sherman threw his headset, waved his arms and drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the call was reviewed and reversed, and the touchdown stood.

"I think the guys rallied behind [Sherman] when he did that," Favre said.

But Sherman said he was wrong to lose his cool in a key situation.

"I should not have lost my discipline, but I probably would do it again," he said. "I didn't want the game to go on without that play being reviewed."

*

Sunday's key injuries:

* Ram quarterback Kurt Warner will be evaluated today to determine whether he needs surgery on the little finger of his passing hand. The Rams also lost cornerback Aeneas Williams to an ankle injury.

* Jet quarterback Vinny Testaverde bruised his right shoulder.

* The Bears lost linebacker Warrick Holdman, who sprained his right knee.

* The Saints had to finish their game against the Lions without receivers Joe Horn (knee) and Donte Stallworth (hamstring).

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