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