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RAVENS TOP THEMSELVES IN SELF-DESTRUCTION

Coach Ted Marchibroda was adamant: If the Baltimore Ravens turn in another effort like they did against the Pittsburgh Steelers, no one on the team can consider his job safe.

Baltimore raced to a 21-0 lead Sunday against the Steelers and appeared on the way to victory. Then came the second half, when the Ravens yielded 35 points -- 10 more than they had surrendered in the previous five games combined -- and lost, 42-34.

Marchibroda didn't get much sleep Sunday night, and that's only one reason why he was angry Monday. Most of all, he was disgusted over the manner in which Baltimore (3-3) fell apart.

So was owner Art Modell, who had to listen to thousands of Steelers fans cheer the Pittsburgh comeback in the Ravens' home stadium. Baltimore has a well-deserved reputation for blowing leads, but this breakdown was unprecedented.

"We lost a game that meant so much to us, a game I felt we should have won," Marchibroda said. "Mr. Modell and I can't tolerate that. If there are any more performances such as that, it would be a situation where nobody's job would be safe."

The Ravens led, 24-7, at halftime, then let Pittsburgh's Will Blackwell run the second-half kickoff back 97 yards. After that, the Steelers scored touchdowns on four of their seven possessions to complete the comeback.

Moon will remain starter

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- When John Friesz gets back for the Seattle Seahawks, it will be as Warren Moon's backup and not as the starting quarterback.

"We're going to go with what's been going well for us," coach Dennis Erickson said. "We've had some success offensively and Warren's played well."

Friesz, who suffered a broken right thumb in Seattle's season opener, is still on the mend, but he's getting closer.

He isn't expected to be ready when the Seahawks (3-3) return from a bye to play at St. Louis Oct. 19.

Fake punt 'a major blunder'

CINCINNATI -- Eric Bieniemy still declined to talk about it, but coach Bruce Coslet was a little more forthcoming about the Cincinnati Bengals' fake punt that helped decide a game.

The explanation: It never should have been called.

Bieniemy, the blocking back on punts, called for a direct snap Sunday on fourth-and-16 from the Bengals' 14-yard line midway through the first quarter.

He took the snap, ran into congestion at the line and was stopped for a 6-yard gain, giving Jacksonville the ball at the 20. Four plays later, the Jaguars scored their first touchdown in a 21-13 win.

After the game, both Coslet and Bieniemy characterized it as a miscommunication but declined to go into detail. Coslet said Monday that Bieniemy called for the fake without permission from the sideline, and half of the punt team didn't get the call.

"Obviously, that was a major blunder," Coslet said.

Around the league

To date, Cleveland Browns fans have bought at least 45,000 season tickets in anticipation of the team's return in 1999. The news came on Monday, as the deadline passed for fans to purchase permanent seat licenses in the new park.

Miami Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson said receiver Fred Barnett will come out of the starting lineup and be replaced by Lamar Thomas. The Dolphins also released kicker Joe Nedney. The 24-year-old Nedney was signed as insurance in case Olindo Mare was unable to kick because of an injured hamstring.

The 0-6 Chicago Bears are switching quarterbacks again. Erik Kramer will take over for Rick Mirer. The latest change comes after Kramer replaced Mirer in the second half of Sunday night's 20-17 loss to New Orleans.

New York Giants quarterback Dave Brown will miss next Sunday's game with Arizona because of a torn muscle in his chest. An MRI exam disclosed a slight tear to the pectoral muscle and coach Jim Fassel announced that the injury would end Brown's streak of 44 starts for the Giants (3-3). Danny Kanell will start in Brown's place.

For at least one more week, kicker Kevin Butler has a spot with the Arizona Cardinals. Butler has missed what could have been winning field goals at the end of two straight one-point losses. "I've got no plans to make a change," Cards coach Vince Tobin said.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers punter Tommy Barnhardt will be out eight weeks with a broken right collarbone.

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