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AFC

Porter keys two Raiders touchdowns

The No. 3 receiver scores Oakland's first points, and his 31-yard reception sets up the second TD.

By ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 20, 2003


OAKLAND, Calif. -- It wasn't the career-high performance he put together last week. Or even a showstopping game.

But for the second week in a row, receiver Jerry Porter thrust himself into the Raiders spotlight.

And for the second week in a row, his performance helped the Raiders win a playoff game.

Porter, who is as well-known for his outspoken nature as for his receiving, aided the Raiders in two scores as they defeated the Titans 41-24 Sunday night to reach the Super Bowl.

On a team with future Hall of Fame receivers Jerry Rice and Tim Brown, the No. 3 receiver has found himself thrust into the forefront the past two weeks.

In last week's win over the Jets, Porter had a game-high six receptions for 123 yards, then uttered this now-famous line: "We didn't beat them, they ran out of time," a reference to comments from Jets guard Dave Szott after a 26-20 loss to the Raiders during the regular season.

Sunday, Porter's 3-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Rich Gannon gave the Raiders a 7-0 lead over Tennessee early in the first quarter. His 31-yard reception helped set up the Raiders' second touchdown with 2:47 left in the first quarter.

And then there was Porter's second touchdown -- or at least what should have been his second.

With less than a minute left in the first half, Porter dropped a sure touchdown, seeming to take his eyes off the ball before he fully had possession. The result was a wide-open receiver who had a pass fall through his hands.

Oakland settled for a 43-yard field goal and a 24-17 halftime lead.

Porter's four catches for 52 yards were part of a well-rounded effort for Raiders receivers.

Six Oakland receivers caught passes as Gannon went 29-of-41 for 286 yards. Brown (nine catches for 73 yards) and Charlie Garner (seven for 55 and one touchdown) were also instrumental in the passing game.

Porter's successful postseason run comes on the heels of his best regular season -- 51 receptions for 688 yards and nine touchdowns.

Now with a trip to the Super Bowl and the Buccaneers as their opponent, expect to hear a lot from Porter this week.

He has been quite outspoken about his lack of a prominent role under former Raiders coach and current Bucs coach Jon Gruden. Under Gruden, Porter has said, he was not used enough and not placed in positions where he could be successful.

Of going against Gruden, Porter said simply, "How you doing, coach? See you later."

This season, he thinks he has found his place under coach Bill Callahan.

Now he'll get an opportunity to prove it to his former coach.

Anyone who knows Porter knows it's an opportunity he relishes.

Brown finally arrives

Some Raiders have called this "Tim's Team."

And Sunday was Tim's night -- no doubt about it.

After 15 NFL seasons with the same team, Tim Brown is finally going to the Super Bowl.

Leading into the AFC Championship Game, Brown wouldn't go so far as to say his career would have been incomplete without a trip to the title game. He said he would just look back and consider certain moments in his career as "missed opportunities."

There's no need to worry anymore. The Raiders are headed to San Diego, reaching the Super Bowl for the first time in 19 years.

In the final minutes, Brown sat on the bench with a towel over head and appeared to be crying tears of joy. Players walked by and shook his hand.

"Isn't that wonderful?" Raiders senior assistant Bruce Allen said as he scurried toward the field to get in position for the postgame celebration. "I'm glad I'm going with him."

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