Bert Jones, who wrenched only three points out of the usually productive Baltimore Colt offense a week ago, knows that they have to get out front early today against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Memorial Stadium, before a sellout crowd of 60,000.
"You try not to play catch-up against the Steeler's super defense," the Colt quarterback said as he contemplated an assault on a Pittsburgh team that has the best stopper statistics in the American Football Conference - first in total defense, first in pass defense and second against the rush. The Steelers are leading the entire National Football League in total defense.
Unless the Colts end the Steelers' mastery over them for the last three meetings - twice in playoff games - they could be out of first place in the AFC East with the season half finished.
Baltimore and Miami are tied for the lead with 5-1 records and the Dolphins are playing at home against the San Diego Chargers (3-3).
The New England Patriots are not only back in the division race with their 17-3 victory over the Colts. The Patriots (4-2) could be tied for the lead if they defeat the 2-4 New York Jets at Foxboro, Mass., and the Colts and Dolphins lose.
The Steelers are trying to hang on to at least a share of the AFC Central lead with Cleveland at 4-2. The Browns are hosts to Kansas City, 1-5.
The Colts have been playing without wide receiver Roger Carr, fullback Roosevelt Leaks and defensive tackle Joe Ehrmann because of injuries. [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] two games with quarterback Terry Bradshaw playing with his left arm in a cast, from a fractured wrist.
In last week's 27-10 victory over Houston, Bradshaw dared a feeble but effective block on linebacker Ted John Stallworth for a 49-yard touchdown with a screen pass.
Later in the same third quarter, Bradshaw defied the risk and saved a touchdown by making a one-arm tackle on Oiler safety Al Johnson after he recovered a fumble by running back Sid Thornton of the Steelers.
Once, Bradshaw was flattened by defensive end James Young while unloading an incomplete pass, and the quarterback grabbed the cast on his left wrist and kicked his legs in an expression of the pain he felt as he lay on his back.
"It hurt so bad," Bradshaw said, "I was afraid to look. I thought a bone was sticking out." It turned out that he had jammed his left thumb against the cast when he fell.
Bradshaw is playing under such a handicap because reserve quarterback Mike Kruzek suffered a dislocated and separated shoulder in the same game in which Bradshaw hurt his wrist. Thus, the Steelers' playoff hopes ride on the quarterback's risk of aggravation.
It was announced late Friday that John Reaves will start for Cincinnati in place of another injured quarterback, Ken Anderson, against the Oilers.
It will be the first start of the season for Reaves, who figured he should have started last week when Anderson also was somewhat slowed by an injury.
Bengal coach Bill Johnson said he would not know until today whether Anderson woud be healty enough to play if needed.