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After Wide Left, Cortez Gets It Right for 49ers

November 04, 2002|From Associated Press

OAKLAND — The short kick went wide left, and Jose Cortez knelt in agony as Raider Nation joyously screamed for overtime.

But just when things were at their silver-and-blackest for San Francisco in the Battle of the Bay, Jeff Garcia smiled. Terrell Owens shouted encouragement to the crushed kicker, and with one more drive that recalled the best days of the franchise, the 49ers beat the Oakland Raiders, 23-20, on Sunday.

Atoning for his 27-yard miss on the final play of regulation, Cortez made a 23-yard field goal 8:41 into overtime that capped more than 15 consecutive minutes of ball control by the 49ers.

"It was gritty, it was courageous, it was off the charts," San Francisco Coach Steve Mariucci said. "This team was not intimidated by this crowd, nor by the distractions."

The 49ers (6-2) ran the game's final 30 plays -- and that was after a 15-play, 88-yard drive that lasted almost nine minutes spanning the third and fourth quarters. San Francisco's dynamic duo largely was responsible, with Garcia passing and scrambling spectacularly and Owens carving up the Raiders' weary defense.

Garcia was 25 for 36 for 282 yards, completing 17 of his 19 passes after halftime and rushing for 46 yards to keep the 49ers moving downfield. Owens caught 12 passes for 191 yards in his best game of the season.

"I was very emotional in the locker room after the game, but that was relief more than excitement," Garcia said. "Being a Bay area guy and following both these teams my whole life, it has to be my most satisfying win."

It was a grim day for Jerry Rice, who was playing against his former team in the regular season for the first time. Rice set every significant NFL receiving record during his 16 seasons with the 49ers, and Sunday he had six catches for 74 yards. But when the game was on the line, he was stranded on the sideline as San Francisco's next generation of stars dominated.

"We were parked on the sideline," Rice said. "It's very frustrating."

The Raiders (4-4) have lost four in a row. On the 49ers' final three possessions, Oakland allowed them to convert eight third downs and a fourth and one at the Raider 45 in overtime.

The Coliseum crowd rained taunts and insults on the 49ers' bench all afternoon. Cortez sent the fans into delirium when he shanked his 27-yard attempt on the last play of regulation -- after San Francisco controlled the ball 6 1/2 minutes

But the 49ers won the coin toss and simply never stopped moving, with Garcia completing 11 consecutive passes.

Given a second chance, Cortez sent his kick down the middle.

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