Raiders roll over Falcons 41-14

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OAKLAND, Calif. - Rich Gannon saw problems. Everybody else saw another dominant performance by the Oakland Raiders.

Gannon threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns, and David Dunn scored on an 88-yard kickoff return as Oakland beat the Atlanta Falcons 41-14 Sunday for its eighth victory in nine games.

But Gannon, who completed 15 of 22 passes and rushed for 64 yards while padding the statistics that might make him the league's MVP, wasn't pleased. He found fault with Oakland's effort in the second half - even though the Raiders reeled off 38 straight points after the Falcons scored first.

Gannon let his teammates know that even this outstanding effort won't be enough to win a Super Bowl.

''I was a little disappointed that we couldn't stay focused and put this team away when we had the chance,'' Gannon said. ''We're excited about where we are, but we still need to keep focused on the task that's at hand, and that's winning the AFC West.''

Tim Brown and James Jett each caught a TD pass, while Tyrone Wheatley and Zack Crockett each rushed for a score as Oakland compiled 492 total yards of offense. It all revolved around Gannon, who has the Raiders at 10-2 for the first time since 1977.

With their 10th victory - Oakland's best total since 1993 - the Raiders matched Minnesota for the NFL's best record. They also moved a step closer to their first division title since 1990, and their first postseason berth since 1994.

''Ten wins is a great accomplishment in the NFL, and to get 10 wins before December is something that I am very proud about for these players,'' Raiders coach Jon Gruden said.

Backed by screaming, near-capacity crowds at the Coliseum, the Raiders have scored 121 points in their last three home games. While the offense was having another strong day, Oakland's 26th-ranked defense sacked Atlanta quarterbacks Chris Chandler and Doug Johnson six times.

The Falcons spent the week in the San Francisco Bay area after last Sunday's 16-6 loss to the 49ers. The extra focus that Atlanta coach Dan Reeves hoped for wasn't there, as the Falcons (3-10) lost their fourth straight and ninth in the last 10 games.

''The way we played out there, I think everybody treated this past week as a vacation instead of a business trip,'' said Falcons safety Ronnie Bradford, who was outrun by Jett on an 84-yard score in the third quarter. ''The results of that showed out on the field. It's embarrassing.''

In the game's only sequence that will make the Falcons' highlight reel, Atlanta - held without an offensive touchdown by San Francisco last week - drove 68 yards for a score on its first possession, capped by a 5-yard TD run by Jamal Anderson.

Atlanta's streak of 25 straight possessions without allowing a touchdown ended on Wheatley's 1-yard run early in the second quarter. Even five holding penalties on Oakland's offensive line in the first half couldn't stop the Raiders from building a 24-7 halftime lead on scores by Brown and Crockett.

''We said we were going to come out here and play hard,'' Brown said. ''If Atlanta wants to make a game of it, fine. But if not, we'll put them on a plane early, and that's what we did.''

The Falcons recovered an onside kick to open the second half, but kicker Morten Andersen was called offsides when his plant foot went past the 30. On the second kick, Dunn broke through the wedge and blew past the trailing Falcons for his first TD on a kick return since 1996.

Chandler was sacked three times in the first half. Johnson, a rookie with just seven passes of experience, took over in the second half and threw a late TD pass to Brian Kozlowski.

''He was just taking a pounding, and it looked like he was hurting,'' Atlanta coach Dan Reeves said of Chandler.


Jett's TD catch was the longest reception of his eight-year career. ... Sebastian Janikowski kicked two short field goals and was perfect on five extra points for Oakland. ... Atlanta was playing in Oakland for the first time since 1979. ... Shawn Jefferson caught seven passes for 109 yards for the Falcons in his best game since signing as a free agent from the Patriots in the offseason.


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