Raiders Falter to Steelers : Pro football: Pittsburgh gets 368 yards in the second half and comes back to win, 29-17.


Anthony Smith and Steve Hendrickson.

Both Raiders. Both defenders. Both participants in Saturday night's 29-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium.

But there the similarity ends. Smith is a veteran, his job ensured, for whom Saturday's game was just a dress rehearsal. Hendrickson is a newcomer, a free agent still trying to win a job for whom Saturday's game was another crucial test.

And their moods in the locker room afterward showed how different these exhibitions can look from different perspectives.

Smith did all his sweating on the field and then declared himself more than ready for the regular season.

"I'm trying to make as few moves as I can to get the job done," the defensive lineman said. "They should have started the (regular) season last week. Guys are dying. We're ready to go."

Hendrickson, on the other hand, wasn't through sweating once the game had ended on a humid night before 47,399. He figured he would be sweating on the plane all the way home, replaying his performance at linebacker in the second half.

"I feel like I'm constantly getting better, but I don't know if it's too late," Hendrickson said.

"After a game, I sit around and yell at myself, correct myself and then move on and wait for them to yell at me. It's a mental game, a weird game and I'm kind of a weirdo myself."

No matter how much Hendrickson agonizes, it was only an exhibition for the Raider hierarchy. So they can shrug their collective shoulders, take some satisfaction from the good they saw on the field, work to correct the bad and try to forget the ugly.

There was plenty of all for the Raiders, who saw their exhibition record drop to 2-1. The Steelers are 1-1.

The good:

--Receiver Daryl Hobbs continues his bid to finally land a spot on the active squad in this, his third year as a Raider. For the second week in a row, Hobbs stood alone as the team's leading receiver, catching four passes for a game-high 62 yards and two touchdowns. Hobbs caught an eight-yard scoring pass from quarterback Jeff Hostetler in the first quarter and a 12-yarder from Vince Evans in the second quarter.

--Evans showed that, at 39, he can still throw long and can still be a reliable backup. Evans completed eight of 11 passes for 100 yards despite pressure from the Steelers that left Evans with a bruised jaw.

The bad:

--While it was in there, the Raiders' first-unit defense asserted itself and kept the Steelers in check. But once the reserves came in, things changed. Overall, Pittsburgh rushed for 203 yards, piled up 368 total net yards of offense and outscored the Raiders, 15-3, in the second half.

--The Raider running game, often called on to head into the teeth of an eight-man Steeler front, gained only 50 yards.

The ugly:

--This was far more bruising than an average exhibition. There were punches thrown, bruises inflicted, players ejected and 24 penalties. The Raiders were penalized 10 times for 81 yards, Pittsburgh 14 times for 135 yards.

--One player from each side was ejected, veteran defensive back Rod Woodson of the Steelers for throwing a punch at Charles Jordan, Raider defensive lineman Jerry Ball for swinging at John L. Williams.

"I think that aggressive play is part of the game," Ball said. "Displaying aggressiveness makes a game exciting. But when a player does something that steps over the bounds of aggressiveness, you have to question that."

Ball questioned a block thrown by Williams that Ball thought was illegal.

"It wasn't the prettiest game in the world," Raider Coach Art Shell said, "but it was a tough, physical game. We got an opportunity to look at a lot of people, which was our idea coming into the game."

The Steelers got their first look at Barry Foster, the team's star running back who sat out the last seven games of last season because of an ankle injury.

Foster, who was rested last week, didn't do much more Saturday, carrying only three times for 12 yards.

The Steeler scores came on an 18-yard, first-quarter run by Dwight Stone off a reverse, a three-yard, second-quarter touchdown pass from Neil O'Donnell to Tim Jorden and two one-yard runs by fullback Victor Jones in the fourth quarter, topped off by a two-point conversion run by Randy Cuthbert.

Jeff Jaeger kicked the only field goal of the game, a 27-yarder.

Poised at the Raider 10-yard line in the closing minute, Pittsburgh chose to run out the clock rather than run up the score.

Raider Notes

The Raiders gave up four sacks and had three. . . . Defensive linemen Chester McGlockton (bruised foot) and Willie Broughton (elbow), receiver Alexander Wright (calf), defensive backs Patrick Bates (leg) and Torin Dorn (hamstring), and linebacker Brian Jones (ankle) did not suit up for the Raiders.

Offensive lineman Bruce Wilkerson was removed from the game in the first quarter after a bruised foot was injured again. . . . Pittsburgh wide receiver Charles Johnson, the team's 1994 first-round draft choice, was held out because of a shoulder injury.

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