Testaverde fits right in -- with struggling Jets

From The Sidelines

August 16, 1998|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

EAST RUTHERFORD -- The Ravens had Vinny Testaverde right where they wanted him yesterday -- on the opposing team.

In a move that appeared to be a vote of no confidence in Glenn Foley, who's supposed to be the Jets' starting quarterback this year, coach Bill Parcells decided to start Testaverde against the Ravens. It wasn't exactly a stroke of genius.

Testaverde, who was cut by the Ravens on June 2, and will cost them against the salary cap both this year and next year, was, well, Testaverde. The Jets didn't play well and he didn't do much to lift their game.

There were 30,835 no-shows at Giants' Stadium, not counting the Jets, who appeared to be going through the motions.

Still, the Ravens are probably much better with Jim Harbaugh at quarterback as they jumped to a 20-0 halftime lead en route to a 33-0 victory.

The Jets started with a conservative game plan, giving it to running back Curtis Martin on their first five plays. But when Testaverde finally threw his first pass, on the sixth play, it was -- what else? -- intercepted. The Rod Woodson interception was wiped out by a penalty, but Testaverde had five possessions and couldn't put any points on the board. He didn't get much help from the offensive line and was sacked three times. He completed six of 10 passes for 54 yards.

Harbaugh, by contrast, had his second straight solid performance after a slow start as he threw a touchdown pass to Jermaine Lewis and set up two field goals, one with a nifty drive in the last two minutes.

Lewis, who's playing for the third-year minimum salary of $238,000, showed he could be quite a bargain this year as he ran a punt back 97 yards for a touchdown and caught a 31-yard over-the-shoulder touchdown pass when he got behind Aaron Glenn.

The only downside for the Ravens was that this game probably means they won't get a chance to play against Testaverde in the second regular-season game. But unless veteran Jumbo Elliott can stabilize the Jets' offensive line when he returns, it might not matter which quarterback the Jets use. Foley didn't do much better with the second-stringers in the third period. He was five of 15 for 37 yards and two interceptions.

The Ravens dominated in all phases and Parcells, who mused a couple of weeks ago that he'd like to spend some time in August at the track in Saratoga, probably wished he wasn't on the sidelines for this one.

Highlights and lowlights of the Ravens' second straight impressive exhibition showing:

Turning point: With the Ravens up 10-0, Jermaine Lewis turned it into a rout with his 31-yard touchdown catch with 2: 29 left in the second period. It showed the Ravens, who like to play what Harbaugh calls "little ball," can strike with some big ball.

Best gamble: Lewis fielded the Jets' first punt on the Ravens' 3 even though punt returners are drilled not to field punts inside the 10. Lewis said the difference was that it was a low punt so he wasn't worried about fielding it deep. Nobody was complaining after Lewis dashed 97 yards for a touchdown.

Harbaugh file: Harbaugh continues to give the offense a new look. Not only did he make some big plays -- notably the touchdown pass to Lewis and a 26-yarder to Floyd Turner -- but he showed his veteran savvy in the second period when he rolled out, saw nothing was there and threw the ball out of bounds rather than take a chance.

Zeier file: Backup quarterback Eric Zeier played better than he did last week as he completed six of seven passes for 93 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Ofodile. But Zeier made one mistake when he didn't put the ball away while scrambling and fumbled.

The $3.5 million man: Woodson, the Ravens' most expensive veteran acquisition in the off-season, had an interception nullified by a penalty but made a good tackle on Martin to prevent a big gain. He only allowed one completion.

Matter of inches: Matt Stover, who missed his last five field-goal attempts last year, made his third straight of the exhibition season when his 51-yard attempt just cleared the crossbar. Kyle Richardson, who dropped a snap on an extra-point attempt last week, made a good hold. Stover added a 32-yard field goal at the end of the first half, but had his streak stopped at four straight when he was wide right with a 49-yard attempt in the fourth period. He later added a 37-yarder.

Big stop: On a fourth-and-inches play at the Ravens' 27 in the second period, Martin tried to go outside only to get stuffed by Michael McCrary and Ray Lewis. The quarterback sneak might have been a more logical call, but the Jets apparently didn't want to put the ball in Testaverde's hands.

Ex-teammate: Former Raven Anthony Pleasant, who's starting at right end for the Jets, sacked Harbaugh on third down in the second period to force a punt. It was the only time Harbaugh has been sacked in the first two exhibition games. It was a rare good play for the Jets.

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