Randle El's playmaking aid Steeler effort


PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A week after labeling them the dumbest-playing
team in America, Oakland Raiders coach Bill Callahan offered little
criticism following their latest loss.

Question on the Raiders: Do you expect both Rice and Brown to be out of the picture next year?
WR Tim Brown is probably a definite goner after this season, but Rice is a different story altogether. Rice is an extremely competitive person and he probably doesn't want his last game to be meaningless. But if the coaching situation doesn't change, then Rice may leave.

Question on the Steelers: How likely is it for Bettis to be back with the Steelers next year?
It's difficult to make a judgment on Bettis' future because he hasn't received much playing time this season. Steelers coach Bill Cowher came into the season with the notion of resting Bettis until late in the season to use him for a push toward the playoffs. Obviously, with the way the season has gone, the playoffs aren't a possibility. So instead of knowing if the Bus has enough juice left in his tank, the Steelers are left wondering. That will cloud the team's judgment during the offseason when it has to make a decision.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Maybe he's running out of things to say about a team that, no
matter how smart it is, is fast becoming one of the NFL's worst.

The Raiders' collapse a season after playing in the Super Bowl
reached new depths Sunday as Antwaan Randle El's playmaking led the
Pittsburgh Steelers to a 27-7 victory in a matchup of disappointing

"In the middle of the third quarter, maybe they gave up,"
Steelers receiver Hines Ward said. "They were ready to go home. It
was cold (30 degrees) and they had a long flight home and they've
had problems with their coach."

Maybe because his much-repeated quote about the Raiders'
mistake-filled play in a 22-8 loss to Denver alienated numerous
players, Callahan kept his postgame news conference short.

"We just didn't get it done," Callahan said.

Oakland's 3-10 record is its worst since moving into the NFL in
1970 and is rivaled in team history only by its seasons of 2-12 in
1961 and 1-13 in 1962. The Raiders are 0-7 on the road and have
only 21 touchdowns in 13 games.

The Steelers (5-8) had lost seven of nine, but still played
their best all-around game since beating Baltimore 34-15 in their
opener. They outgained Oakland 399-161, with Jerome Bettis moving
past Thurman Thomas into ninth place in NFL career rushing with 106

Bettis' 11-yard touchdown run put Pittsburgh up 10-3 during the
first 100-yard game by a Steelers runner this season and only
Bettis' second in 2{ seasons.

Bettis has 12,116 yards and needs only 5 more to pass former
Steelers star Franco Harris and move into eighth place. Harris
would remain Pittsburgh's all-time leader since Bettis had 3,091
yards with the Rams.

"It was very emotional, and gratifying," Bettis said. "The
way the season has been unfolding, it has been really difficult to
enjoy the individual success."

Oakland led 7-0 on Tyrone Wheatley's 22-yard run late in the
first quarter -- the Raiders' only touchdown in two games -- but
offered little resistance after that.

"Every team that comes out puts the hit down on us," defensive
tackle Chris Cooper said. "It's terrible. I hope we can just keep
coming back."

The Steelers hope they can, too. Pittsburgh trails AFC North
leader Baltimore (8-5) by three games with three to play, and the
Ravens play Sunday in Oakland.

Randle El, the elusive receiver and kick returner who set NCAA
records at Indiana for his versatility, enjoyed the best game of
his two-season NFL career. He set up three scores with catches of
24 and 15 yards and a 51-yard punt return, and had a 26-yard punt
return and an 18-yard run.

"I don't think people expected us to come out and play this
well," said Tommy Maddox, who threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to
Plaxico Burress that made it 17-7. "But a lot of guys were wanting
to play just to play."

While Maddox threw for 266 yards, the Raiders seem to achieve
new lows with each passing performance. Or, in this case, a
non-passing performance.

A season after Rich Gannon gave every NFL offensive coordinator
the scheme to attack the Steelers' secondary by going 43-of-64 for
403 yards in a 30-17 victory, Rick Mirer completed only four passes
for 29 yards in the first three quarters. He finished 10-of-25 for
68 yards and two interceptions while playing most of the second
half on a badly sprained left ankle.

"Nobody has surrendered yet," guard Frank Middleton said.
"We're trying to keep the pride. It's just getting hard right

The Raiders' swift transformation from AFC champion to cellar
dweller -- they've lost eight of nine -- was illustrated by the first
4{ minutes of the second half, when the teams combined for three
fumbles and an interception. Oakland couldn't score after forcing
two turnovers in Steelers' territory.

After that, Steelers linebacker Joey Porter said, "It didn't
take too much to get them to shut it down."
^Notes:@ Dewayne Washington's first interception of the season led
to Maddox's scoring pass to Burress. Washington started for injured
CB Chad Scott after being benched for four games. ... Kimo von
Oelhoffen had three of Pittsburgh's four sacks. ... Jerry Rice made
two catches and now has at least one in 269 consecutive games.


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