Stewart Starts to Come Around

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From Associated Press

Kordell Stewart’s composed, efficient play didn’t earn him the job as starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. What it did was hand the New York Jets their first loss of the season.

Coach Bill Cowher declared that injured Kent Graham is still the starter after Stewart threw to Bobby Shaw for Pittsburgh’s first touchdown pass of the season and led the Steelers to a nearly flawless 20-3 victory Sunday.

“Kent Graham is our starter, and as soon as he’s ready, he’ll play,” Cowher said. “Kordell played well, but no ifs, ands or buts, it’s a dead issue. Kent is the starter.”


The Steelers (2-3) left no ifs, ands or buts to the outcome Sunday as they knocked quarterback Vinny Testaverde out of the game on the Jets’ first offensive play, then held backup Ray Lucas to 99 yards passing and forced four New York turnovers.

The Jets (4-1) were virtually injury-free in their first four games but lost Testaverde when the quarterback pinched a nerve when he was hit by linebacker Jason Gildon. Testaverde tore an Achilles’ tendon in the first game last year and was sidelined for the season.

Testaverde, who helped the Jets come back in the fourth quarter three times in their four victories, was hurt just as he was throwing an incomplete pass. He did not return.

“I had this pinched nerve for about three weeks, but it wasn’t as severe as it is now,” Testaverde said. “He hit me right on the exact spot. My whole left side from the shoulder to the hand went numb. It’s not as bad, but my hand is still numb.”

Stewart, who lost his job to Graham early this season but got it back last week when Graham suffered an injury to his left hip, was effective, if not spectacular.

He completed 17 of 26 passes for 140 yards, converted 10 of 18 third-down plays and completed passes to eight receivers. Graham was activated last week but did not play.


Stewart credited his success to “staying relaxed. Don’t stress.”

The Steelers did not have a turnover, while the Jets lost their first two fumbles of the season. Lucas was intercepted twice.

“I’m a little down on myself,” said Lucas, who led the Jets to an 8-8 record last season after they started 1-6 after Testaverde’s injury. “A lot is expected of me as the No. 2 quarterback. I’m supposed to go in there and put points on the board.”

The Steelers nursed a 10-3 lead through most of the second half until Stewart sealed the outcome with an 87-yard drive, capped by his touchdown pass to Shaw. Kris Brown had a 29-yard field goal with 3:01 left.

In the first half, Jerome Bettis got the first rushing touchdown against the Jets this season. Bettis finished with 107 yards in 25 carries.