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Hostetler Finds He Has Other Options : Interconference: Instead of finding only Brown, quarterback spreads his passes around.


Yes, there are other receivers on the Raiders besides Tim Brown. And other numbers besides No. 81. And other options besides Brown streaking across the middle.

There are Rocket Ismail and James Jett and Alexander Wright and Andrew Glover and even Jamie Williams.

Of course, quarterback Jeff Hostetler always knew that. He just didn't know how to find them. Not with a 295-pound defender rushing into his face and another breathing down his neck.

So, when Hostetler was chased and pounded and pummeled in the past, he did what any sane quarterback in his position would do. He looked for his first option, his most reliable option, the man he knew would be open. He looked for Tim Brown.

That doesn't sound like a bad idea in theory. In fact, Brown had caught 50 passes before Sunday's 20-17 victory over the Rams, for 742 yards and six touchdowns.

But it was too much of a good thing. The Raiders had become predictable and one-dimensional, with a passing game that caused defenses to lick their chops in anticipation.

A week ago, Brown was the only wide receiver to catch a pass. The rest of the wide receivers had combined for only 33 catches all year.

That changed Sunday. Brown caught five passes. But Ismail caught two, one going for a touchdown, and Jett caught two after catching none in his previous five games and only one in his last seven. Glover, the starting tight end, caught a touchdown pass, and Williams made his first catch of the season.

The difference?

Time. Time for Hostetler to pass, time for the receivers to get open and time for the tight ends to get into their patterns because the Rams didn't blitz much.

"We cannot afford to go into the game and depend totally on Tim," Raider Coach Art Shell said.

No argument from Brown.

"I was happy everybody was able to get into the game and make some plays," he said. "We ran the same plays this week that we ran last week. It's all about execution.

"People look at the film this week, and they can't just say, 'We've got to stop Tim Brown.' There are other guys who can get the ball in the end zone."

It's not that Brown doesn't want the ball. What receiver worth his salary wouldn't want the quarterback to look his way?

"I want the ball 10 times a game if I can get it," he said. "But I don't want every time we drop back, they're throwing the ball to me. I don't want that. I told Art Shell and (offensive coordinator) Tom Walsh and (receiver coach) Fred Biletnikoff, 'You guys know I want the ball, but if you're throwing it to other people and they're doing the job, I have no problem with that.' "

On his first touchdown pass Sunday, Hostetler, with a chance to look the field over, was able to pick out a secondary option in Glover, who was streaking across the field toward the end zone a step ahead of cornerback Wymon Henderson.

"I gave him a move to the inside and went to the outside," Glover said of the 27-yard play, his second touchdown catch of the year. "It was a perfect throw by Hostetler."

And for Glover it was an important catch, not only because it gave the Raiders the early lead but because, he believed, it gave the quarterback faith in his tight end, who is starting for the first time this season.

"He has to have confidence in you to throw to you," Glover said of Hostetler. "You have to make him feel confident by making the plays. He's risking his health standing in there to throw to you."

When he found Ismail on a 10-yard touchdown pass, Hostetler was going with his third option.

"We had time to do some things," he said. "The guys were working hard. It was nice to be able to work some of these things out in a game-type situation."

It was certainly nice for Jett, who gained 42 yards on his two catches. He had a smile on his face Sunday, but it must have been tough to make it through that five-game drought.

"I just kept my head on straight," he said, "and tried to be positive."

The Raiders passed for only 218 yards Sunday, but what they lacked in explosive power they made up for in the number of targets hit.

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