OAKLAND, Calif. -- The short kick went wide left, and Jose Cortez knelt in agony as the Raider Nation joyously screamed for overtime.
|Holder Jason Baker celebrates and kicker Jose Cortez exhales after hitting the game-winning FG.(AP)|
Atoning for his 27-yard miss on the final play of regulation, Cortez made a 23-yard field goal 8:41 into overtime that capped more than 15 consecutive minutes of ball control by the 49ers.
"It was gritty, it was courageous, it was off the charts," San Francisco coach Steve Mariucci said. "This team was not intimidated by this crowd, nor by the distractions."
The 49ers (6-2) ran the game's final 30 plays -- and that was after a 15-play, 88-yard drive that ate up almost nine minutes spanning the third and fourth quarters. San Francisco's dynamic duo largely was responsible, with Garcia passing and scrambling spectacularly and Owens carving up the Raiders' weary defense.
Garcia was 25-of-36 for 282 yards, completing 17 of his 19 passes after halftime and rushing for 46 yards to keep the 49ers moving downfield. Owens caught 12 passes for 191 yards in his best game of the season.
"I was very emotional in the locker room after the game, but that was relief more than excitement," Garcia said. "Being a Bay area guy and following both these teams my whole life, it has to be my most satisfying win."
It was a grim day for Jerry Rice, who was playing against his former team in the regular season for the first time. Rice set every significant NFL receiving record during his 16 seasons with the 49ers, and on Sunday he had six catches for 74 yards. But when the game was on the line, he was stranded on the sideline as San Francisco's next generation of offensive stars dominated.
"When you can't get the ball in the second half, what can you say?" Rice asked. "We were parked on the sideline. It's very frustrating, but you've got to deal with it. We still have eight games to go."
The Raiders have lost four straight following a 4-0 start. On the Niners' final three possessions, Oakland allowed them to convert eight third downs and a fourth-and-1 at the Raiders 45 in overtime.
The Coliseum crowd rained taunts and insults on the 49ers' bench all afternoon - the main reason that most of the 49ers kept their families at home for this 32-mile road trip. Center Jeremy Newberry's father attended the game and faced a torrent of abuse.
Cortez sent the fans into delirium when he shanked a 27-yard field-goal attempt on the last play of the fourth quarter, leaving the game tied at 20 after San Francisco had used up 6½-minutes from the clock.
But the 49ers won the coin toss and simply never stopped moving, with Garcia completing 11 consecutive passes. Given a second chance, Cortez sent his kick down the middle.
Garcia, whose family stayed at home in Gilroy, had a few choice words for the Raiders' fans.
"We felt like when it came down to it, this offense was going to move the ball no matter who they put on the field," offensive tackle Derrick Deese said. "It was inevitable. Jeff and T.O. drove us to victory. All 11 guys can be proud."
With their fifth victory in six games, the 49ers extended their NFC West lead and claimed Bay area bragging rights for the next four years, since the teams aren't scheduled to meet again until 2006. It was the 49ers' first regular-season game in Oakland since 1979.
Except for Rice and Jerry Porter, who also caught six passes, none of Oakland's talented offensive players had much of a game.
Rich Gannon was 18-of-28 for 164 yards, ending his NFL-record streak of six straight 300-yard games. Tim Brown caught just one pass, ending his streak of 147 games with at least two receptions.
Garcia hit Tai Streets for a 2-yard TD with 12:57 left in regulation, but Gannon completed a fourth-down pass to Porter to extend the next drive, which ended with a 10-yard TD run by Charlie Garner with 6:28 left.
Excelling against the Raiders' spotty bump-and-run coverage, Owens got open repeatedly in the middle of Oakland's secondary. Even the return of Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson, who'd missed the last seven weeks with a broken shoulder, didn't slow down Owens.
"He was tough as hell today," the four-time Pro Bowl cornerback said. "He was giving it to me. We can't win if we can't get off the field."
- Raiders rookie Ronald Curry, the former North Carolina quarterback, was activated from the practice squad to return kicks. He fumbled the second kickoff he touched, setting up Garcia's 11-yard TD pass to Cedrick Wilson.
- Oakland beat San Francisco 34-28 on Candlestick Point in 2000 in a game featuring a missed field goal and a blocked field goal in overtime.
The Associated Press News Service
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