Battered Steelers make QB switch Tomczak will start over Miller vs. Ravens

September 03, 1996|By Chuck Finder | Chuck Finder,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

PITTSBURGH -- Moments after a bleak and bruising opener, Kordell Stewart spoke about how there was no reason to panic, how Jim Miller was still the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting quarterback.

Shows you how much Bill Cowher listens to him.

Yesterday the Steelers coach quietly named Mike Tomczak his starting quarterback for Sunday's game in Pittsburgh against the Ravens. But it was Miller who let the news slip.

"He wants to go with the guy who's been through the battles," Miller told a few reporters around noon. "Mike deserves that. He's been in the league 12 years. There's a reason he's been in the league 12 years."

Cowher met with the three quarterbacks yesterday morning and advised them of his decision. Miller said the coach wanted to go with an experienced hand because the Steelers were so banged up and bedraggled after a 24-9 spanking in Jacksonville on Sunday.

The coach apparently asked the three to keep it under wraps. "It's humbling, it's frustrating," said Miller, anointed the starter with a week left in preseason. The third-year pro had three NFL quarters of experience before his lackluster 9-for-17, 83-yard effort against the Jaguars. He underthrew Andre Hastings and overthrew Mark Breuner in the end zone during the second half. Miller gave way to Stewart periodically as designed and to Tomczak for good in the fourth quarter.

"I want to play, I want to be the guy," Miller said. "But I'm not pointing the finger at anyone but myself."

Yesterday, Tomczak and Stewart both declined comment on the switch. Cowher issued a terse press release and left it at that.

Stewart went 0-for-2 passing in goal-line and short-yardage situations. Tomczak threw a costly interception on his first pass and was later sacked twice. In all, the QBs III were 12-for-23 for 107 yards -- a meager 89 yards net.

"If we win, I'm sure [Tomczak] will continue to quarterback," Miller said. "Hopefully, one of us will grab the wheel and drive the cart home. There's no question we need to get some continuity offensively. As a whole offensively, they want to see one guy in there. Mike Tomczak's the guy."

For this week anyway.

Pub Date: 9/03/96

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