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Oakland at Tennessee

Hentrich, McNair get some revenge vs. Raiders

SportsLine.com wire reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans got some revenge against the Oakland Raiders thanks to an unlikely hero.

Steve McNair threw two touchdown passes and punter Craig Hentrich kicked three field goals while filling in for an injured Joe Nedney as the Titans downed the Raiders 25-20 Sunday night .

"What can you say about our punter?" Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher said.

"When you're asked to do a job and all of a sudden you have to change gears and do something else, it's tough. For him to go 3-for-3 tonight, it says an awful lot about Craig. When we re-signed him this offseason, that was a huge move for us."

It was a messy opener that doubled as a rematch of last season's AFC Championship Game. The Titans came in wanting to avenge the loss that kept them from their second Super Bowl in four seasons -- and get a jump-start for this season. Oakland won the AFC title game 41-24 in January and outscored the Titans 93-49 in two meetings last season that featured plenty of Tennessee mistakes.

This game had lots of errors, too. The teams combined for 28 penalties for 284 yards, but it was the Raiders who hurt themselves over and over. Their share was 17 for 173.

"We had opportunities to win," Oakland receiver Jerry Rice said. "It's just mistakes. Mistakes are killing us now."

The Raiders didn't show any signs of the offense that was the NFL's best in 2002 until Rich Gannon found Tim Brown for a 25-yard TD that made it 22-20 with 3:30 left.

But McNair answered by driving the Titans 54 yards and set up Hentrich's third field goal himself with a 10-yard scramble. He was 25-of-38 for 269 yards.

Hentrich was doing double duty because Nedney sprained his right knee on the kickoff after making a 50-yard field goal. Hentrich had three field goals in nine years before matching that total Sunday night.

Nedney also got hurt in the AFC title game and was replaced by Hentrich, who didn't hit any field goals that time. Hentrich, who kicked field goals and punted in college at Notre Dame, said there must be something about the Raiders.

"I'm just honored that it happened tonight, and I feel very fortunate," said Hentrich, who made 39 field goals at Notre Dame.

But the Titans might be auditioning new kickers quickly. Fisher said Nedney hurt a medial collateral ligament and possibly his anterior cruciate ligament.

Oakland had one last chance with 31 seconds left and no timeouts. Gannon, last year's MVP, overthrew Rice and tossed the ball at Charlie Garner's back as time expired.

The Titans got some help from the officials.

McNair found Derrick Mason at the back of the end zone with a 3-yard toss, and Mason was pushed out of bounds by Oakland safety Anthony Dorsett before he got a foot down. Although replays showed Mason likely couldn't have gotten both feet in bounds for a catch, it was ruled a touchdown.

Raiders coach Bill Callahan said he would have challenged the ruling, but he learned his lesson in the Super Bowl that Oakland lost to Tampa Bay.

"Pushouts are unchallengeable, so it was one of those things," Callahan said.

Oakland, 1-3 in the preseason with the veterans playing very little, didn't get going until it was too late. A sellout crowd on its feet whenever the Raiders had the ball helped them rack up eight false starts even though they had practiced with noise this past week.

Tennessee's defense did its best to disrupt the Raiders, sacking Gannon four times. Oakland's top receivers, Rice and Brown, never really got going. Brown didn't catch his first pass until 2:37 was left in the third, and he finished with five catches for 64 yards. Rice had four for 43, and Jerry Porter had one for six.

The Titans, debuting their alternate jersey with the predominant Columbia blue reminiscent of their days as the Houston Oilers, haven't lost since the title game after going 4-0 in the preseason.

The NFL delayed the kickoff approximately 20 minutes to accommodate President Bush's national speech. What followed was a very strange game.

Titans defensive tackle Robaire Smith was ejected in the second quarter for bumping an official, then they lost Nedney.

Oakland led only once, 10-9, on a 46-yard TD reception by Garner just before halftime. Sebastian Janikowski kicked a pair of 47-yard field goals.

But Hentrich put the Titans back on top 12-10 at the half with his first field goal since 1995, a 49-yarder that matched his career best. He also added a 34-yarder in the third period and a 33-yarder with 32 seconds left.


  • Hentrich had been 0-2 on field goals with the Titans, and it was his first field goal since Sept. 24, 1995, when he also kicked a 49-yarder for Green Bay against Jacksonville.
  • Titans WR Tyrone Calico scored an 11-yard TD on the first catch of his career, the first player in franchise history to do that since Tony Jones on Sept. 9, 1990, against Atlanta.
  • The Titans have won four of five regular-season games in this series under Fisher.
  • Oakland C Barret Robbins was not active. He is the third center on the roster as he recovers from arthroscopic surgery on his knee.
  • Titans top draft pick Andre Woolfolk was not active.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2003, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
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Tyrone Calico hauls in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Steve McNair in the first quarter.
Tyrone Calico hauls in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Steve McNair in the first quarter. (AP)


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Scoring Summary
TDTyrone Calico, 11 Yd pass from Steve McNair (Joe Nedney kick Failed), 6:47. Drive: 7 plays, 90 yards in 4:18.
FGSebastian Janikowski 47 Yd, 1:29. Drive: 4 plays, 4 yards in 2:53.
FGJoe Nedney 50 Yd, 8:32. Drive: 8 plays, 19 yards in 4:06.
TDCharlie Garner, 46 Yd pass from Rich Gannon (Sebastian Janikowski kick is good), 1:06. Drive: 7 plays, 76 yards in 2:49.
FGCraig Hentrich 49 Yd, 0:00. Drive: 5 plays, 41 yards in 1:06.
FGCraig Hentrich 34 Yd, 2:52. Drive: 11 plays, 64 yards in 5:09.
FGSebastian Janikowski 47 Yd, 13:51. Drive: 9 plays, 39 yards in 4:01.
TDDerrick Mason, 3 Yd pass from Steve McNair (Craig Hentrich kick is good), 7:51. Drive: 7 plays, 54 yards in 4:06.
TDTim Brown, 25 Yd pass from Rich Gannon (Sebastian Janikowski kick is good), 3:30. Drive: 5 plays, 65 yards in 1:27.
FGCraig Hentrich 33 Yd, 0:32. Drive: 7 plays, 54 yards in 2:58.
R. Gannon24/3826420
M. Tuiasosopo0/1000
C. Garner72208
J. Fargas2603
R. Gannon1606
C. Garner8112146
T. Brown564125
J. Rice443015
D. Jolley53309
J. Fargas1606
J. Porter1606
S. McNair25/3826921
E. George204206
S. McNair219010
R. Holcombe61509
D. Mason1099119
E. Kinney446028
J. McCareins343018
S. Meier230018
E. George323015
F. Wycheck112012
T. Calico111111
R. Holcombe1505
Complete Player Stats