Raiders 30

(2-0, 1-0 away)

Steelers 17

(0-2, 0-1 home)

Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

8:30 PM ET, September 15, 2002


1 2 3 4 T
OAK 10 7 3 1030
PIT 7 3 7 017

Pass-happy Raiders stop Steelers

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The New England Patriots showed the rest of the NFL how to beat what was the NFL's best defense last season. The Oakland Raiders were only too happy to copy it in a throw-on-every-down performance reminiscent of their old AFL days.

Terry Kirby returns a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown to open the fourth quarter, keeping the Raiders comfortably ahead.

Rich Gannon broke nearly every major single-game Raiders passing record, even those from the early days of the AFL, by throwing 64 times and Oakland's defense forced five turnovers as the Raiders beat the reeling Pittsburgh Steelers 30-17 on Sunday night.

Just as the Patriots' Tom Brady did Monday in a 30-14 win over Pittsburgh, Gannon came out throwing -- only he didn't stop, going 43-of-64 for 403 yards and a touchdown. The 43 completions were only two short of Drew Bledsoe's 1994 NFL record -- that in an overtime game -- and all but the yardage were Oakland records. The Raiders rushed only 17 times against what was the NFL's top-rated defense last season.

"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.''

Coach Bill Callahan insisted all week the Raiders (2-0) wouldn't do as the Patriots did Monday by using a no-huddle offense, emptying the backfield and throwing on nearly every down.

Then they did exactly that, throwing a remarkable 41 times just 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.''

The Steelers also lost five turnovers as former Steelers defensive back Rod Woodson tied an NFL record by recovering three fumbles. They have 11 turnovers during their second 0-2 start in three years.

Just as the Patriots did in throwing 25 consecutive times Monday, the Raiders 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.

"They obviously feel like they're getting mismatches in coverages,'' said Steelers linebacker Joey Porter, who made two interceptions.

Of the Raiders' 87 plays, they tried to pass on 70. Gannon was sacked five times.

"I'm glad we've got a bye week so maybe we can work on a new defense. Obviously, teams have something going against us,'' Washington said.

Gannon threw so much he delayed talking to reporters shortly after the game ended, pleading he had to ice his throwing arm.

"We had a good game plan,'' Gannon said. "If it weren't for the two interceptions (near the goal line), it would have been a great night.''

The Raiders' strategy so confused the Steelers that their second run of the game resulted in a 36-yard touchdown by Charlie Garner, who wasn't touched after squirming past the line of scrimmage in putting Oakland up 10-7.

"We liked what we saw (from New England),'' Callahan said. "It helped us confirm our thoughts. We thought we could throw it and spread it out and neutralize the blitz.''

The strategy worked perfectly as the Raiders seized a 17-7 lead with the help of the first of three field goals by Sebastian Janikowski, on Oakland's opening drive. Gannon also threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Porter.

Oakland would have taken that 10-point lead into the half, but the Steelers' much-maligned special teams blocked Kevin Stemke's punt in the final minute of the half, and Pittsburgh turned it into Todd Peterson's 46-yard field goal -- his first with the Steelers.

However, the special teams problems that doomed Pittsburgh in their AFC title game loss to New England last season surfaced again.

Gannon was intercepted again near the goal line by Joey Porter, who returned it 84 yards. Five plays later, Kordell Stewart -- who had thrown five straight incompletions -- hit Hines Ward on a 7-yarder for his second touchdown of the game, cutting the Raiders' lead to 20-17.

But Terry Kirby, one of the NFL's oldest kick returners at age 32, immediately ran back the kickoff 96 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter. It was the fourth special teams touchdown allowed by the Steelers in their last four games, dating to last season. The Steelers fumbled three times in the fourth quarter.

Game notes

The Steelers, widely regarded as the AFC's preseason favorite, opened 0-3 in 2000 before winning nine of their last 13. ... Jeff Hostetler set the Raiders record of 424 yards passing in 1993. ... Former Steelers receiver John Stallworth received his Hall of Fame ring at halftime. ... The Raiders threw 65 times, including one by Kirby. ... Raiders WR Jerry Rice had 11 catches for 94 yards.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

Drive info: 0 plays, 0 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 0 plays, 0 yds, 0:00
pitFG0:01Todd Peterson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 3 plays, -26 yds, 0:15
Drive info: 5 plays, 15 yds, 2:16
oakTD1:47Charlie Garner, 36 yd run
Drive info: 7 plays, 71 yds, 2:07
Drive info: 5 plays, 15 yds, 2:16
Drive info: 7 plays, 70 yds, 2:38
Drive info: 7 plays, 71 yds, 2:07
Drive info: 7 plays, 70 yds, 2:38
oakFG9:31Sebastian Janikowski 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 41 yds, 2:39
oakFG1:05Sebastian Janikowski 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 29 yds, 2:12
Drive info: 15 plays, 90 yds, 5:32
Drive info: 15 plays, 90 yds, 5:32
oakFG8:23Sebastian Janikowski 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 14 plays, 50 yds, 7:10