Raiders can't rally past Chiefs

Posted: Tuesday, October 21, 2003

OAKLAND, Calif. The confident Kansas City Chiefs wanted nothing more than to beat the Oakland Raiders in decisive fashion. They ended up holding on for dear life Monday night when a backup quarterback turned a potential shutout into a shootout.

Oakland's Tim Brown was tackled on the Kansas City 1 as time expired and the unbeaten Chiefs won their seventh straight game, beating their bitter rivals 17-10.

Trent Green passed for 206 yards for Kansas City, which tied a franchise record for consecutive wins. But the Chiefs had to survive a gutsy last-minute drive led by Marques Tuiasosopo, who had thrown just six passes all season for the Raiders.

''I know my role is backup quarterback. I fully understand that,'' Tuiasosopo said. ''I go into each week prepared to play. I've got to. I can't afford not to. It's for games like this.''

Tuiasosopo took over for injured MVP Rich Gannon in the second half. He led two scoring drives and marched the Raiders (2-5) from their own 6 with 1:47 left to the Kansas City goal line on a drive featuring two catches by Jerry Rice and a huge 35-yard reception by Jerry Porter.

Oakland even tried a fake spike to get in the end zone, but the game ended when Jerome Woods and Greg Wesley tackled Brown on a catch at the 1 while time ran out.

''I guess he just sparked a fire in them, but we put it out just in time,'' Woods said. ''He was eyeballing Tim Brown the whole time. I thought that if I just make a tackle and don't worry about a pick he's never going to get into the end zone.''

Gannon bruised his right shoulder in the final minute of the second quarter, then spent the second half on the sidelines nursing the injury which came from two vicious sacks by Shawn Barber and several other hard hits.

Tuiasosopo also struggled before sparking the Raiders to an impressive fourth quarter. The third-year pro had just 69 yards passing in his entire career, but was 16-of-28 for 224 yards in the second half.

''Tui wrote his name here today,'' Porter said. ''I'm not surprised. He's been sitting and waiting for the opportunity to present itself.''

Priest Holmes rushed for 123 yards and ran for a 2-yard touchdown with 4:57 left after Phillip Buchanon muffed a punt return deep in Oakland territory. The score gave Kansas City a 17-3 lead but Tuiasosopo was just getting started.

The Chiefs gave Dick Vermeil a win in his first appearance on Monday night as a head coach since his Philadelphia Eagles played in Miami in 1981. Vermeil has seen a similar last-second tackle before: His St. Louis Rams won the Super Bowl four years ago when Mike Jones tackled Tennessee's Kevin Dyson on the 1 as time ran out.

Vermeil has a special connection to the quarterback who nearly ended the Chiefs' unbeaten season: As a UCLA coach, he recruited Tuiasosopo's father, Manu, who played defensive line for the Bruins and went on to an NFL career.

''I knew him before he was born,'' Vermeil said of the younger Tuiasosopo. ''I'm happy to see him doing well. I'd just (rather) have him do it against somebody else.''

For the Chiefs, this win took some of the sting out of an embarrassing 24-0 loss in Oakland last Dec. 28, the first time in 88 meetings between the former AFL foes that the Raiders shut them out.

That game, played in a steady downpour, gave Oakland the top seed for the AFC playoffs, as well as a much-needed bye, and eliminated the Chiefs from making the postseason for the fifth straight year.

How different things are this year: Despite the stirring fourth-quarter rally, the Raiders are reeling one year after winning the AFC championship.

The Chiefs remain one of two unbeaten teams in the NFL this season along with Minnesota (6-0).

Kansas City's stingy defense held Oakland to 114 yards through the first three quarters, frustrating the offense that was the NFL's best last season.

Tuiasosopo led the Raiders to the Kansas City 8 midway through the fourth quarter, but Oakland settled for a 27-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski. The kick with 8:06 left kept the Raiders from being shut out for the first time since Dec. 7, 1997, in Kansas City.

The Raiders lived up to their promise to keep the ball away from dangerous kick returner Dante Hall, but that strategy hurt them midway through the first quarter. Stranded deep in his own territory, Shane Lechler punted directly toward the Oakland sideline, giving Kansas City the ball at the Raiders' 44.

Moments later, Eddie Kennison slipped underneath two defenders and hauled in Green's 43-yard pass at the 1 despite safety Derrick Gibson's interference on the play. Green sneaked around the right end two plays later.

Kansas City had a 55-yard drive late in the second quarter, leading to Morten Andersen's 37-yard field goal with 1:07 left. Otherwise, Oakland's defense had reasonable success against the Chiefs' powerful offense.

Porter, the Raiders' brash deep-threat receiver, played his first game since having multiple hernia surgery on Sept. 12. He finished with four catches for 69 yards.

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