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PRO FOOTBALL WEEK 1 | KANSAS CITY 28, OAKLAND 8

Maybe Thomas Can Call No. 61 for McGwire

September 07, 1998|From Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Derrick Thomas called his shot.

The Kansas City defensive end/linebacker, approaching his own NFL record for sacks in a game, signaled that he was about to tackle Jeff George for a safety in the waning minutes of Chiefs' 28-8 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday night.

"And then the sonofagun actually got that safety," said admiring teammate James Hasty.

In a game in which the Chiefs ran up a 17-0 lead before the Raiders ran off a successful play, Thomas was dominant. He had six sacks, one shy of his NFL record, and tacked on the game's final two points when he tackled George in the end zone with 1:58 left, just as he predicted.

"It's just a tradition with the people down there in that [east] end zone," said Thomas, trying to play down the called shot. "Any time that ball's inside the 10-yard line, they signal safety, we signal safety and then we go all out."

The Chiefs had 10 sacks of George, who came up to Thomas at one point and said, "Do you have to come so fast every time?"

Said Jon Gruden, making his NFL head coaching debut at age 35 for the Raiders: "[Thomas] is a great player. If they get you in long yardage and they get a lead on you, this is an outstanding defensive football team. And we played into their hands."

The Chiefs scored a touchdown--Donnell Bennett's one-yard run--on their first possession, then recovered Desmond Howard's muff on the ensuing kickoff. Seventeen seconds later, Andre Rison beat Charles Woodson--last year's Heisman Trophy winner--on a 30-yard touchdown reception. George then lost a fumble on the Raiders' first play from scrimmage, setting up Pete Stoyanovich's 28-yard field goal.

Kansas City quarterback Elvis Grbac, sidelined six games last season with a broken collarbone, was hurt on the last play of the first half. X-rays were negative, but Grbac has a shoulder sprain.

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