OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- When you're not headed to the playoffs,
madly celebrating a big win late in the season becomes perfectly
acceptable -- and completely necessary.
Oakland defensive end Bobby Hamilton hollered through the locker
room in delight, coach Norv Turner congratulated his offensive
linemen for a great game, and even injured Charles Woodson made
locker-room rounds to high-five teammates.
The Raiders and Titans sure made it seem these fallen franchises
were playing for something meaningful in late December.
Kerry Collins threw for season-high 371 yards and matched his
career high with five touchdown passes, hitting Jerry Porter for
three scores and outdueling Billy Volek in Oakland's 40-35 victory
Sunday that sent Tennessee to its fourth straight loss.
"This team, we feed off each other," said Raiders defensive
lineman Grant Irons, who helped force a safety with 8 seconds left.
"The emotion, enthusiasm, we just want to approach each and every
game with that."
Volek had the second-best passing day in franchise history with
492 yards and threw for four touchdowns, but the Titans' defense
gave up big plays all afternoon. Volek also scored on a 1-yard run
with 1:21 left, but later was called for intentional grounding in
the end zone for the safety.
"We're moving the ball down the field," Volek said. "The wide
receivers are doing a great job. The offensive line was doing a
great job. We just didn't score enough points."
Drew Bennett established a career high with 13 receptions, for
160 yards, tying the Titans' franchise record for catches while
playing in front of dozens of family and friends. He caught two
touchdown passes in the first half, reaching 10 TDs for the first
time in his career to become the franchise's first to do it since
the Houston Oilers' Drew Hill in 1988.
"Statistics are only good when you get the win," Bennett said.
Volek hit Derrick Mason for a 3-yard score with 11:53 left that
pulled Tennessee (4-10) within 35-28.
The Titans later faked a field goal from the Oakland 19, but
Craig Hentrich's pass to Shad Meier was incomplete at the goal
line. Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 42-yard field goal on Oakland's
next possession, set up by Alvis Whitted's career-best 57-yard
"You can't say enough about our effort offensively," Titans
coach Jeff Fisher said. "I told the guys inside, 'I'll take this
one.' It's the head coach's fault. You can't take points off the
board like I did in the decision to go with the fake field goal.
It's a great call if you execute it, but not a good decision."
Collins had five touchdown passes for the first time since his
New York Giants beat Minnesota in the NFC championship game on Jan.
14, 2001. The last time a Raiders quarterback passed for five was
Rich Gannon against Carolina on Dec. 24, 2000.
Porter caught scoring passes of 32, 18 and 3 yards, his second
three-TD game of the season, and had eight catches for 148 yards as
the Raiders (5-9) bounced back from last Sunday's 35-10 pounding in
Atlanta to win at home for the first time since beating Tampa Bay
in Week 3.
"Last week was pretty bad," Collins said. "We were pretty
awful. The guys really came to play today."
In the first meeting here between these teams since the Raiders
won the 2002 AFC championship game to reach their first Super Bowl
since 1984, Collins picked apart Tennessee's poor pass defense. He
completed three long touchdown passes in the first half in his most
impressive game since taking over for the injured Gannon in Week 4.
Bennett, who grew up in nearby Orinda, scored on passes of 17
and 23 yards. Volek had another big day after throwing for 426
yards in a 49-38 loss to Kansas City at home Monday night.
Volek made his third straight start and sixth overall in place
of injured Steve McNair and looked sharp. Oakland's depleted
secondary took a beating.
Woodson, the Raiders' four-time Pro Bowl cornerback, sat out
with a bone contusion on his right knee. Phillip Buchanon bruised
his tailbone in the second quarter on a nullified interception.
Bennett scored his second touchdown four plays later.
Raiders DT Warren Sapp celebrated his 32nd birthday in a
far nicer way than when he played here with Tampa Bay in 1999 on
his birthday and lost 45-0. "This is a lot better," Sapp said,
smiling. ... The Raiders surpassed their win total of last season,
but also gave up a season-high 527 yards.
The struggling Dallas Cowboys intend to start Matt Cassel at quarterback when they return from their bye week, a source told ESPN.
The NFL has blamed an error by a clock operator, and the failure to correct it by on-field officials, for an unusual run-off of 18 seconds near the end of Monday's Steelers-Chargers game.
Doctors treating Giants tight end Daniel Fells for MRSA are more optimistic than they were a few days ago that Fells won't lose his foot, sources close to the situation said.
A Texas trooper faces a disciplinary review for having his photo taken with Cowboys running back Christine Michael during a traffic stop.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn said he expects Julio Jones to be ready to face the Saints on Thursday, despite his top receiver's battling right hamstring tightness and a toe injury.
DeAngelo Williams was told by NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent that he couldn't wear pink accessories because there are no exceptions to the uniform policy.