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Gannon Does Leg Work

Pro football: Quarterback runs for three touchdowns as Raiders come back from 21-point deficit to stun Colts, 38-31.

September 11, 2000|From Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Rich Gannon's instincts were as quick as his feet.

Gannon, a 34-year-old quarterback coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance in 12 years in the NFL, rushed for a career-high three touchdowns as the Oakland Raiders overcame a 21-0 deficit and beat the Indianapolis Colts, 38-31, Sunday.

"It was hard to hear all the protection calls," Gannon said of the deafening noise from the raucous RCA Dome crowd. "So we had to make adjustments. We completed a couple of big passes, and I think they became more worried about our pass than our run."

A big mistake by the Colts.

"One of the touchdown runs was designed," Gannon said. "But the other two just happened. I had to make last-minute decisions, and fortunately they were the right ones."

The three rushing touchdowns were a record for a Raider quarterback and the most by an opposing quarterback against the Colts since Green Bay's Tobin Rote had three in 1954.

Tyrone Wheatley also rushed for two touchdowns for Oakland (2-0). The Raiders scored 24 points in the third quarter, took a 38-24 lead on Wheatley's second touchdown midway through the final quarter and held off the Colts (1-1) in the closing minutes.

Gannon has 15 career rushing touchdowns, but had never run for more than one touchdown in a game. He had 10 carries for 37 yards Sunday in addition to completing 15 of 22 passes for 207 yards.

"Our pass rush was not good," Colt Coach Jim Mora said. "He had a lot of time back there, he's a good athlete, he scrambled and we weren't able to get him down before he hurt us."

Peyton Manning, who threw touchdown passes to Marcus Pollard and Edgerrin James in the first half, brought the Colts within seven points with four minutes to go on a 50-yard scoring pass play to Marvin Harrison. Indianapolis got the ball back, and the Colts reached the 34 before a fourth-down pass to Harrison was intercepted by Tory James in the end zone with a minute to go.

Manning was 33 for 48 for 367 yards--but only eight for 18 for 129 yards in the Colts' dismal second half.

"They came with a different defense and it took us a little while to communicate at the line. We had a couple of missed assignments," Manning said. "We really did [feel a change of momentum]. In the third quarter, we couldn't get much going. You've got to give them credit, though. They made the plays. But we certainly helped that by not executing."

James' late interception was his second of the game. His 25-yard interception return in the third quarter set up the third touchdown run by Gannon that tied the game at 24-24.

The Colts went three-and-out on the next series, then a 34-yard pass play from Gannon to Andre Rison set up a six-yard touchdown run by Wheatley that gave the Raiders their first lead with 41 seconds left in the third quarter. Wheatley also scored on a one-yard run on the Raiders' first possession of the final quarter.

"Rich did a good job of putting down the ball and getting some big yards for us," Raider Coach Jon Gruden said. "He made some good adjustments and made some big plays. We showed great confidence in our running and passing in the second half."

The Colts scored on their first three possessions, when Manning completed 14 consecutive passes after missing on the first play of the game.

A 10-yard pass play to Harrison and a 15-yard run by Edgerrin James set up a 13-yard completion to Pollard for the first touchdown on the opening series. Using his tight ends as receivers, Manning passed 17 yards to Ken Dilger on the next possession, and three plays later hit Dilger again for a five yards before James ran for a six-yard touchdown.

A nine-yard pass play to Dilger, a 10-yard completion to Harrison--a play the Colts successfully challenged after it initially was ruled he had trapped the ball--and a roughing-the-passer penalty on the Raiders' Regan Upshaw helped the Colts to the Oakland 10. Two plays later, James had a 10-yard reception for his second touchdown and a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter.

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