The way Cliff Stoudt was acting tonight, maybe Terry Bradshaw should consider Hollywood after all.
Stoudt, the quarterback who in his first three years with the Pittsburgh Steelers had more Super Bowl rings than passing attempts, threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more scores to lead the Steelers to a 35--31 victory over the Cleveland Browns, before 78,610 at Municiple Stadium, a Brown's possession game attendance record.
Bradshaw was neighter injured nor ineffective. He was just given the night off.
But this 11th consecutive exhibition-season opening victory for the Steelers -- an achievement because it was earned against the rival and the defending Central Division champions -- was as costly as it was cherished. Middle linebacker Jack Ham broke his left arm when he was crunched in a goalline pileup and will be out for eight weeks, through the fifth game of the regular season.
For the Steelers, who finished 9-7 last year and didn't make the playoffs for the first time in nine years, this is troublesome news.
Stoudt completed 14 of 19 for 228 yards before rookie Mark Malone replaced him midway through the fourth quarter. He three all three touchdown passes in the first half, when the Steelers's constructed a 28-14 lead over Brian Sipe.
Stoudt connected on a 17-yard scoring pass to Russell Davis in the first quarter and three second-quarter scores to Lynn Swann (23 yards) and John Stallworth (five yards).
He ran two yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and then ran three yards for a third-quarter score. For a man who didn't play a down in his first 56 games as a pro and who has thrown only 60 passes in a four-year career, Stoudt did all right.
Sipe played only in the first half and completed 14 of 19 for 183 yards. He threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Feacher, in the first quarter to give the Browns a 7-0 edge. In the second period he threw a 21-yard pass to Dave Logan to tie the score, 14-4.
But the half, and the game, would simply be 'Advantage, Stoudt.' Neither Bradshaw nor Franco Harris (hamstring pull) played. But neiter would be needed on this night where Pittsburgh became 1-0 and Cleveland became 1-1 in this preseason.
The brown's, who beat Atlanta, 24-10, in the annual Hall of Flame game last week, looked to reserve quarterback Paul McDonald in the second half. With 6:29 left, McDonald threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Feacher, who has scored four of the Browns' eight preseason touchdowns. McDonald then threw a four-yard scoring pass to Ozzie Newsome in the final minute.
It made the game appear closer than it really was, but appealed to the thoroughly partisan Cleveland crowd, nontheless.