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Oakland at Pittsburgh

Steelers keep Raiders in downward spiral

SportsLine.com wire reports

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

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 teams.

"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 yards.

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 2½ 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 now."

The Raiders' swift transformation from AFC champion to cellar dweller -- they've lost eight of nine -- was illustrated by the first 4½ 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."


  • 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.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2003, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
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Steelers RB Jerome Bettis makes a cut on Oakland's Eric Bartton on the way to a touchdown.
Steelers RB Jerome Bettis makes a cut on Oakland's Eric Bartton on the way to a touchdown. (AP)


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Scoring Summary
TDTyrone Wheatley, 22 Yd run (Sebastian Janikowski kick is good), 3:23. Drive: 7 plays, 63 yards in 3:37.
FGJeff Reed 44 Yd, 14:55. Drive: 7 plays, 43 yards in 3:28.
TDJerome Bettis, 11 Yd run (Jeff Reed kick is good), 5:26. Drive: 6 plays, 69 yards in 2:19.
TDPlaxico Burress, 14 Yd pass from Tommy Maddox (Jeff Reed kick is good), 2:06. Drive: 3 plays, 21 yards in 1:29.
TDDan Kreider, 1 Yd run (Jeff Reed kick is good), 6:18. Drive: 3 plays, 9 yards in 1:23.
FGJeff Reed 40 Yd, 14:16. Drive: 9 plays, 58 yards in 4:56.
R. Mirer10/256802
T. Wheatley1365122
C. Garner957013
Z. Crockett1000
J. Rice227016
T. Brown31909
J. Porter21207
Z. Crockett1505
O. Santiago1404
T. Johnson1101
T. Maddox19/2826611
J. Bettis27106112
A. Randle El211018
A. Zereoue5705
V. Haynes2504
T. Maddox3305
D. Kreider1111
H. Ward467038
A. Randle El348024
P. Burress338114
D. Kreider126026
J. Riemersma124024
A. Zereoue321014
J. Bettis31909
V. Haynes112012
Complete Player Stats