Dwight White was soooooooo mad. Gol-leeeeee, he was mad enough to say naughty words. Dwight White is your basic NFL defensive lineman-type crazy. He works for the Pittsburgh Steelers and is eight feet tall and eats cars. Suight White was sooooooo mad that he tried to rearrange (1) David Taylor's eyes, (2) Bert Jones' legs and (3) the world.
Taylor is an offensive guard for the Colts. The first time Baltimore scored a touchdown Sunday, he and White fell to scuffling. "I wasn't going to take any of his stuff," Taylor said later. "I'm not that kind of player, but it's hard to take that stuff - especially when he sticks his fingers in your eyes about six times, slaps your head, mouths off. Trying to intimidate you. I'm not taking it any more."
Late in the first halp, when the Colts had a 17-0 lead built on a strong, opportunistic defense and Jones' passing, White was penalized for slapping someone's head. The next play, he took a shot at Jones' legs, seeming to arrive much after Jones had thrown a pass, seeming to aim at Jones' knees with his helmet. In fact, he hit a knee and knocked the quarterback down.
Then an unusual thing happened. Jones first looked to the referee for a penalty. When none came, Jone rose - and reached down to help White up.
It was a simple act that spoke volumes: Take your late shot, Dwight, but I'll still be here, throwing touchdowns, and you can try all you want without changing that. Later, with the Colts ahead, 24-7, White was called for offsides and said such worlds to an official that he was judged unsportsmanlike-imagine that - and ejected from the game. That's when White tried to dent the earth's surface. He threw his helmet against the ground, waking up Richter equipment in Southern California. Pieces of the helmet flew in several directions.
"I'm not taling," White said later. He did say, however, that he didn't try to put his fingers in Taylor's eyes. Things just happen, you know. He didn't know Jones already had released that pass, he said, and the ejection, well, it was a horse-feathers call.
Some days are better than others in the National Football League and if Sunday was not high on Dwight White's list of memories,it sat just fine with the baltimore Colts and Bert Jones. The previous Sunday was a calamity, a 17-3 loss to New England. In that one, Jones completed six of 13 passes for 11 yards.Eleven yards? Right.
Although the loss was Baltimore's first in six games, it set loose the tongues of doomsayers. "Everybody wrote us off," said the Baltimore coach, Ted Marchibroda. "Our backs were against the wall."
Backs against the hall with a 5-1 record? Oh. well, Every Sunday is a crisis in the NFL. And here came the awesome Steelers, with the best defense in the league, to be followed the next Monday night by the Redskins, who can beat anybody but the Giants.And if Bert Jones passes for 11 yards again, the Colts might soon be 5-3, Gloomy doom.
So Jones was only beautiful against the Steelers. He completed his first seven passes for 138 yards and a 17-0 lead in the first 20 minutes of play. The Steelers, who had 13 quarterback sacks in six games, hadn't touched Jones yet. Small wonder Dwight White was sooooooo mad.
"I never doubted Bert," Marchibroda said. "That's the way we expect him to play in big games."
Jones, however, wouldn't say the New England disaster had anything to do with Sunday's rout. Nor, he said, was it a matter of getting even with the Steelers for two lopsided defeats last year, including one in the playoffs that was soooooo bad a pilot crashed his plane into Memorial Stadium in protest.
"A lot of things determine your 'best' or 'worst,'" Jones said when someone asked how it felt to win so big after having the worst day of his career the wek before. "At New England, we had the right plays at the right time, but he execution wasn't there. Today, our receivers ran good routes, the offensive line was doing a job and I was throwing."
The primary difference, an one that will put the Redskins' secondary to a stern test, was Baltimore's ability to throw deep. ANd not only to the flying Glenn Doughty, but also to a healthy Roger Carr.
"What hurt last week," Jones said, "was that we couldn't get the downfield pass. We did it today."
In fact, the Colts did it on the first play against the Steelers, sending Doughty down the right sidelines for a 20-yard completion. Doughty later went deep for a 26-yarder. Carr, a training-camp holdout who then was injured and had cautht only two passes the first six games, caught two throws for 20 and 19 yards.
The deep threat, plus Jones' use of running backs Roosevelt Leaks and Don McCauley as receivers isolated against slower linebackers, made Baltimore an imposing offensive team Sunday - because the line was shoving Dwight White and his playmates around so much that Lydell Mitchell gained 99 yards on 26 carries.
"When we open up the offense like that and get things goint right." Mitchell said, "then we've got the best quarterback in football, Bert Jones. But if the people around you aren't doing their jobs - the offensive line - it's hard."
One thing more. A man visited the Pittsburgh locker room and then told Bert Jones. "They're saying that early in the week you called Dwight White a 'hot dog'".
"No way," Jones said. He smiled in wonder, "I'd have to be an idiot to say somemthing like that." You don't go around asking tall buildings to fall on you.