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Janikowski Finally Gets His Kicks on Field

October 16, 2000|From Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Sebastian Janikowski no longer feels like a wasted first-round draft pick.

The rookie kicker, who had made only six of 11 field-goal attempts, kicked a 43-yarder with 25 seconds left Sunday, lifting the Oakland Raiders over the Kansas City Chiefs, 20-17.

Before he made a 47-yard attempt to slice Kansas City's lead to 17-10 five minutes into the third quarter, Janikowski had missed two attempts in the game and all six of his attempts beyond the 40.

The week before, Janikowski missed a potential game-winner from 35 yards at San Francisco.

"The media was putting a lot of pressure on me. I needed to get off by myself and figure out what I was doing wrong," he said. "I figured it out. I was kicking on the snap. That's why I was missing."

The victory lifted the Raiders to 5-1, giving them a commanding lead in the AFC West over the Chiefs (3-3), who had won three in a row and blew a 10-point lead.

It was also the Raiders' second consecutive victory in Kansas City after losing 11 in a row at Arrowhead Stadium from 1989 to 1999.

Raider Coach Jon Gruden said an "R-rated" conversation with his troubled young kicker last week may also have had something to do with his improvement.

"We basically cleared the air and I let him know that we're going to keep sending him out there," Gruden said. "I think he's going to be a great kicker for a long time."

Former Chief quarterback Rich Gannon drove the Raiders 64 yards in eight plays to set up the game-winner by Janikowski, who also missed a 59-yard attempt as time ran out in the first half.

"Rich Gannon made some plays out there," Chief center Tim Grunhard said. "He's running sideways and throwing the ball 50 yards. He really amazes me sometimes."

The Raiders tied the score, 17-17, with a long drive aided by a fourth-down pass by Gannon.

On fourth and one from the Chiefs' 35, Gannon scrambled and passed to Tim Brown for 32 yards. After a false-start penalty, Tyrone Wheatley caught Gannon's seven-yard pass in the end zone with 9:25 left, capping an 80-yard drive that took more than eight minutes.

"I thought we had him sacked, and then he throws up a duck that Tim Brown makes a great play on," Chief linebacker Donnie Edwards said. "That's what Rich does. He's able to go out there and make something out of nothing."

Earlier in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs appeared to be driving for the go-ahead score when rookie wide receiver Sylvester Morris took a pass from Elvis Grbac and lost the ball at almost the same instant his knee hit the ground. The ball was recovered by Charles Woodson on the Oakland 12 with 7:09 left.

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