Testaverde shines on Ravens' return

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The Independent Online
American football

Vinny Testaverde rushed for one touchdown and scrambled 12 yards to set up Earnest Byner in a 19-14 season-opening win for the Baltimore Ravens - the former Cleveland Browns - over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

It was a special return for the Ravens' head coach, Ted Marchibroda, who was head coach of the Baltimore Colts from 1975 to 1979.

"To come from behind like that in front of a full house, it probably doesn't get too much better than this." said Marchibroda, who took the Indianapolis Colts to within one win of the Super Bowl last season.

The game was played before 64,124 fans at Memorial Stadium, the largest crowd for a sporting event in Baltimore.

It was the first National Football League regular-season game in Baltimore since 1983, when the home team was the Colts, who left for Indianapolis after the season.

Also in a new city is Jimmy Johnson, the former Dallas coach, who made a successful debut in Miami when the rookie Karim Abdul-Jabbar rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown in a 24-10 victory over the New England Patriots.

Johnson led Dallas to two Super Bowl titles in five years before taking over in Miami. "Going into the game, I was nervous," Johnson said. "You never know how a young team will respond."

The wide receiver Jerry Rice had a two-yard scoring run as the San Francisco 49ers scored all three of their touchdowns on the ground in a 27-11 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

In Jacksonville, the Jaguars surprised the defending AFC champions, Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-9. The Pittsburgh linebacker, Greg Lloyd, is out for the rest of the season after suffering a torn left patella tendon when he collided with his team-mate Rod Woodson.

At Tampa Bay, Brett Favre threw four touchdown passes as the Green Bay Packers demolished the Buccaneers 34-3, spoiling the debut of the Bucs' new coach, Tony Dungy.

Favre, the 1995 Most Valuable Player who spent part of the off-season in a rehabilitation centre recovering from an addiction to painkillers, tied with Joe Namath as the third-fastest player to reach 15,000 yards, doing so in 66 games. Only Dan Marino (56) and Jim Everett (64) reached the milestone in a shorter time.

Steve Bono threw two touchdown passes as the Kansas City Chiefs erased an early 10-point deficit and pulled out a 20-19 victory over the Houston Oilers. Only 27,725 fans showed up in the Astrodome to see the Oilers, who are to move to Nashville, Tennessee, after the 1997 season.

A fumble by the quarterback Dave Brown in his own territory set up Steve Christie's 34-yard field goal as the Buffalo Bills erased a 17-point deficit and beat the New York Giants 23-20.