A couple of glimpses of Cliff Stoudt:
Nov. 13, 1983 -- Memorial Stadium. Stoudt completes 13 of 23 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns to lead the NFL Central Division-leading Pittsburgh Steelers to a 21-13 victory over the Baltimore Colts and a 9-2 record. After the game, Stoudt says it was great to play on the road and hear a few cheers because even when he wins at home, he hears only boos.
July 8, 1984 -- More than an hour after the Philadelphia Stars have defeated the Birmingham Stallions, 20-10, at Franklin Field, in the USFL Eastern Conference championship game, Stoudt still is seeking refuge from reporters in a makeshift training room. He had not practiced the three weeks before the game, managed to play only after a pain-killing injection for his aching shoulder and completed 10 of 26 passes for 109 yards despite being unable to throw the ball past 20 yards. After establishing the second-best quarterback rating in the league for 1984, he did not want to again face questions of critics he never seemed able to satisfy.
Cliff Stoudt is a world away from both those scenes. When he leads the Stallions into Byrd Stadium Sunday for a 2:30 p.m. game against those same Stars, who now call Baltimore home, Stoudt, 28, again will carry the numbers of a top-notch professional quarterback.
The nine-year veteran has led the Stallions to a 3-1 record and a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with Memphis and Tampa Bay. Stoudt again is second in the USFL in passing, having completed 53 percent of his passes, for nine touchdowns.
"I do feel more confident than I did in the past," he said. "It was a matter of learning my role in this offense. I don't have to throw the ball 40 or 50 times a game. I came in here thinking I had to do it all. Now I know what I really have to do is not make mistakes and pick my spots."
At 6 feet 4 and 215 pounds, Stoudt gives Birmingham another dimension with his scrambling ability. He is the team's second-leading rusher behind halfback Joe Cribbs, a much more-heralded player from the NFL.
It is Stoudt whom Baltimore Coach Jim Mora knows must be controlled.
"From what I've seen on film -- and I haven't seen (Houston's Jim) Kelly on film yet -- he is playing as well as any quarterback in the league," said Mora, whose team defeated New Jersey and Doug Flutie, 29-9, Sunday to improve its record to 1-2-1. "They have hurt people with big plays to Jimmy Smith and Joey Jones. They are going deep -- we expect Stoudt to throw deep six or seven times -- but they are making the catches."
Smith, another ex-Steeler, has caught 18 passes, five for touchdowns including a 52-yarder. Jones averages 22 yards a catch.
Stoudt says many big plays this year have come on audibles when he read blitz. "When you can get a Jimmy Smith or a Joey Jones one-on-one, you have to go for it," he said. "But the Stars are the hardest team in the league to do that against. They don't gamble as much, and when they do, they leave someone back deep in the middle."