St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Raiders pass test easily

Oakland's Rich Gannon throws 63 times to help beat mistake- prone Pittsburgh 30-17.

©Associated Press

September 16, 2002


Oakland's Rich Gannon throws 63 times to help beat mistake- prone Pittsburgh 30-17.

PITTSBURGH -- The Raiders didn't just go back to the Steelers' loss to New England last week for their game plan. They returned to their days in the pass-happy American Football League.

Rich Gannon threw 64 times and Oakland forced five turnovers as the Raiders beat winless Pittsburgh 30-17 Sunday night.

Gannon broke nearly every major single-game team passing record, even those from the AFL, of which the Raiders were a founding member in 1960.

Just as the Patriots' Tom Brady did Monday in a 30-14 win over Pittsburgh, Gannon came out throwing and didn't stop, going 43-of-64 for 403 yards and a touchdown. The completions were two short of Drew Bledsoe's 1995 league record, and that was in an overtime game. All but the yardage were Oakland records. (Jeff Hostetler's mark of 424 from 1993 remained safe.)

The Raiders rushed 14 times.

Coach Bill Callahan insisted all week the Raiders wouldn't do as the Patriots did by using a no-huddle offense, emptying the backfield and throwing on nearly every down.

Then they did exactly that, throwing 41 times in the first half, including 30 of their first 32 plays. The turnaround was remarkable for a team that both ran and passed for more than 200 yards in easily beating Seattle last week.

"The plan going in was to throw; it always was and it always has been," Callahan said. "The players knew that. They knew it prior to the Monday night game. We had to be aggressive and we had to attack."

Just as the Patriots did in throwing 25 consecutive times Monday, they threw underneath Pittsburgh's coverage as cornerbacks Dewayne Washington and Chad Scott often gave big cushions to the receivers. When the Steelers blitzed, Gannon took quick three-step drops and delivered the ball before the blitzers arrived.

"Until we show we can stop it, teams are going to keep doing it," said a tense, displeased Steelers coach Bill Cowher. "We've got to get it fixed or it's going to be a long season."

And even the few times Oakland ran it worked. Its second run resulted in a 36-yard touchdown by Charlie Garner, who wasn't touched after squirming past the line of scrimmage.

The Raiders led 17-7 after settling for Sebastian Janikowski's 41-yard field goal on an opening drive of 7 minutes plus that stalled near the goal line. Gannon also wasted another efficient drive, underthrowing a pass for Jerry Rice at the goal line that linebacker Joey Porter intercepted.

The Steelers couldn't turn the mistake into points. They drove to their 3 only to have quarterback Kordell Stewart fumble the snap on first and goal as he bumped into center Jeff Hartings' right leg, with Rod Woodson recovering. Woodson had three of the Raiders' four fumble recoveries.

The Steelers have 11 turnovers in two games.

Gannon threw so much he delayed talking to reporters, saying he had to ice his throwing arm.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.