- The Washington Times - Monday, September 4, 2000


PITTSBURGH The Baltimore Ravens defense said goodbye to Three Rivers Stadium in dominating fashion yesterday.
The Ravens' last trip to the familiar den of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are scheduled to move into a new downtown stadium next season, certainly was a memorable one.
The Ravens' 16-0 season-opening win against Pittsburgh marks the first time the Steelers have been shut out at home since 1989, when Art Modell's Cleveland Browns accomplished the feat.
Baltimore limited the Steelers to 30 rushing yards, as the Ravens defeated their AFC Central rivals before 55,049. It was the Ravens' second win in a season opener and first on the road. With the loss, the once-proud Steelers have lost seven of their last nine home games and 16 of their last 22 games overall.
"Anytime you get a win on the road, it's the toughest thing to do in all of professional sports," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.
Billick quickly pointed to a television and added, "You look up on that board, and I don't see any other goose eggs."
The Ravens' defense carried the day, although their offense wasn't all that bad despite bogging down three times in the red zone. It took an impressive fourth-quarter goal line stand by the defense to preserve the shutout, plus a missed 44-yard field goal by Steelers kicker Kris Brown.
The Steelers had seven plays starting at the Ravens 5-yard line and came away with nothing. Steelers coach Bill Cowher even replaced starting quarterback Kent Graham with Kordell Stewart and still couldn't get in. On third-and-goal at the Ravens 2, Stewart fumbled on an aborted play, but left guard Alan Faneca jumped on the loose ball. Graham came in on the next play and threw a high incompletion to rookie wide receiver Plaxico Burress running a fade into the left corner of the end zone.
This was the Ravens' second shutout in their last three games. Baltimore defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 22-0 last Dec. 26 at PSINet Stadium.
"It was a rough day," said Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, who finished with just eight yards on nine carries, his lowest rushing game as a Steeler. "We did not get any kind of consistency going. When you finish three quarters of play and you only have four first downs, it should be obvious what is happening. I do not care what football team you are on, you are not going to be able to move the football if you do not get first downs."
The Ravens' front seven didn't allow that to happen. Left end Rob Burnett blasted Graham for a 6-yard sack and fumble that led to Matt Stover's 23-yard field goal in the first quarter, the first of his three.
Meanwhile, the Ravens' offense did enough to win. Baltimore committed no turnovers, and running back Priest Holmes rushed for 119 yards on 27 carries. Quarterback Tony Banks was solid, completing 18 of 32 passes for 199 yards and one touchdown.
Leading 3-0, the Ravens scored the game's only touchdown late in the first quarter. With 4:13 left in the period, Banks hit wide receiver Qadry Ismail for a 53-yard bomb down the right sideline. Ismail simply ran past Steelers left cornerback Chad Scott.
This was Ismail's fourth touchdown in his last two games against the Steelers, including scores of 53, 54, 59 and 76 yards. For the game, Ismail was the Ravens' leading receiver with seven receptions for 102 yards (14.6 average) and the lone touchdown. Travis Taylor added four receptions for 50 yards (12.5 average) in his NFL debut.
However, settling for Stover's field goals from 23, 26 and 33 yards left the offense questioning its ability inside the 20.
"We can't win football games against very good teams getting three points," tight end Shannon Sharpe said. "Sixteen points? This game should have been 35-0."

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