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Raiders' Victory Is Moving Experience

Pro football: Before record Oakland crowd, they defeat Chiefs, 49-31, and take a three-game lead in AFC West.


OAKLAND — This game was supposed to be won by a foot.

Instead, the Oakland Raiders made it look as if the AFC West will be won by a mile.

Their 49-31 victory over Kansas City in front of a rabid sellout crowd of 62,428 at Network Associates Coliseum--the largest ever to witness a Raider game in Oakland--gave the Raiders a three-game lead in a division they haven't won since 1990, an 8-1 record and their first sweep of the Chiefs since 1988.

"My rookie year," receiver Tim Brown said.

This is a rivalry that had been decided by a field goal the last three times the Raiders and Chiefs played, but that didn't look like an option for the Raiders Sunday.

Not with Sebastian Janikowski unable to play because of a bacterial infection in his left foot.

His 43-yard field goal with 25 seconds left beat Kansas City last month, but before the game he tested his sore foot and couldn't kick, leaving the Raiders without the player who scored every point in a 15-13 victory over San Diego last week.

No problem, it turned out.

Never mind that the Chiefs got close enough to try an on-side kick in the final minutes, this was a dominating performance for three quarters, and the Raiders led by as many as 25 points.

They did it with a rookie punter, Shane Lechler, who took over Janikowski's jobs on kickoffs, extra points and field goals and performed extraordinarily--two touchbacks, seven extra points, and, all right, one missed field goal.

They did it with a starting tailback, Tyrone Wheatley, who came into the game with a badly sprained ankle and left it with two, but rushed for 112 yards anyway.

They did it even though the Chiefs' Elvis Grbac completed 39 of 53 passes for an astounding 504 yards--226 in the fourth quarter--and even though Tony Gonzalez became the first tight end in NFL history to have four consecutive games with 100 receiving yards.

"Man, they never threw the ball like that," said Raider receiver Andre Rison, a former Chief who scored two touchdowns against the team that cut him. "They threw 50 or 60 times and still lost? I'd rather take Rich Gannon's stats--a W."

It was a gritty one.

"We had a kicker show up at work today with what they say is cellulitis, a bacterial aggravation of the soft-tissue area, how's that?" Coach Jon Gruden said, struggling to provide the medical details before giving up. "I'll know more about that when I get home and get on the Internet.

"Some guys really sucked it up the old fashioned way--Wheatley, Jon Ritchie.

"This is a great win, a very emotional game."

It was one that seemed destined to go the Raiders' way.

They drove for touchdowns on their first three possessions and four of their first five to take a 28-7 lead.

They scored one touchdown when a pass went through the hands of tight end Rickey Dudley in front of the goal line, only to go directly to Rison cutting across the back of the end zone. He calmly caught it, then held up his arms to the crowd as if to say, "Of course."

Dudley, who caught two other touchdown passes, didn't want the assist.

"I don't like to talk about that play because I consider it a dropped pass," he said. "We laughed about it on the field because I'm happy he saved it."

Perhaps the only other play that showed how clearly it was the Raiders' day was Josh Taves' interception of a deflected Grbac pass. That's because it was Taves who deflected it, hitting Grbac's arm from behind, then running 10 yards under the ball, which was knocked high into the air, to catch it and return it 23 yards.

The Raiders--known for some collapses in the second half of the season in the past--let the Chiefs (5-4) threaten a comeback in the fourth quarter when they cut the lead to 42-31 with 1:47 left on Grbac's three-yard run.

But the on-side kick failed, the Raiders started the drive at the Chiefs' 43-yard line and then Randy Jordan broke free for a 43-yard touchdown run on the next play to put Oakand ahead, 49-31 with 1:37 left, taking the air out of the comeback attempt.

Now the Raiders move on to next Monday's game against Denver to try to avenge their only loss.

"We have a chance to have the AFC West wrapped up by mid-November," Brown said.



The Chiefs lost despite Elvis Grbac's team-record 504 yard passing performance at Oakland. Grbac became only the eighth quarterback in NFL history to hit the 500 yard marker.


Quarterback Team Yards Opponent, year Norm Van Brocklin LA Rams 554 New York Yankees, 1951 Warren Moon Hou 527 Kansas City, 1990 Boomer Esiason Ari 522 Washington, 1996 Dan Marino Mia 521 New York Jets, 1988 Phil Simms NYG 513 Cincinnati, 1985 Vince Ferragamo LA Rams 509 Chicago, 1982 Y.A. Tittle NYG 505 Washington, 1962 Elvis Grbac KC 504 Oakland, 2000


--Research by Roy Jurgens

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