Defenses dominate in Raiders' 17-10 win over 49ersPosted: Sunday August 25, 2002 12:37 AM
Updated: Sunday August 25, 2002 4:59 AM
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- After a sloppy, dull exhibition version of the Battle of the Bay, both teams hoped that defensive prowess -- and not offensive ineptitude -- caused the final result.
The San Francisco Bay area's most fervently loved sports teams didn't give their fans much reason to stay. In the first half alone, there were 13 penalties, two missed field goals by Sebastian Janikowski and potentially dangerous hits on both teams' franchise quarterbacks thanks to careless blocking.
"That wasn't the greatest game I've ever seen, but hey, it's only the preseason," said 49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens, who caught one pass for 35 yards.
Yes, it was only an exhibition -- and Bill Callahan's home debut as the Raiders' 13th head coach was considerably better than his team's first two preseason games. Oakland was soundly beaten by Dallas and Tennessee, allowing scores on the first three possessions of each game.
The rivals will meet again in Oakland on Nov. 3 -- and perhaps then, the Coliseum will be sold out. The crowd -- dominated by black jerseys, as though many 49ers fans couldn't be bothered to cross the Bay -- dwindled throughout the second half on a chilly East Bay night.
San Francisco (1-3), obviously a bit worn down midway through a stretch of three games in 10 days, managed just 80 total yards in the first half, with Jeff Garcia completing just eight of 16 passes for 60 yards and failing to get San Francisco into the end zone yet again.
Head coach Steve Mariucci had a laundry list of complaints.
"We needed to be better protecting the quarterback," he said. "We got into penalty situations. We didn't finish the game the way we wanted. We've got a lot of things to clean up and get better. I was surprised the score was as close as it was at halftime."
The Raiders (1-2) weren't much better, however. Reggie Barlow greatly improved his chances of making the team by returning a punt 57 yards for a TD less than five minutes in, but Oakland didn't score again until Janikowski kicked a 43-yard field goal 4 seconds before halftime.
"I'm really excited about our defense," Callahan said. "Not only that, I thought the special teams set the tone for the game."
The 49ers tied it at 10-10 on Jeff Chandler's 24-yard field goal with 11:48 left, but third-string Raiders quarterback Rick Mirer led them on a 61-yard scoring drive ending with Hill's rush up the middle.
San Francisco got near the Raiders' goal line in the final minutes, but Tim Rattay threw an incomplete pass on a fourth-and-goal from the 15.
Both teams played their starters late into the first half, but neither offense moved the ball effectively at any point. Garrison Hearst rushed just three times for 4 yards as the 49ers continually sabotaged their efforts with six penalties.
"They came to play, and they pretty much dominated the first half," Garcia said. "We never got into any sort of rhythm. We were always reeling, always back on our heels. We have to learn from it and adjust."
Rich Gannon was sharper than Garcia, completing 13 of 20 passes for 88 yards. Jerry Rice, in his second game against the team for which he set every significant NFL receiving mark, caught four passes for 50 yards -- but even Rice dropped a third-down pass that stalled one of Oakland's drives.
"As long as we don't have five turnovers, I don't worry," said Tim Brown, who didn't catch a pass. "We don't get too riled up about preseason football games."
Janikowski, the Raiders' enigmatic kicker, missed field goals from 36 and 33 yards in the first half.
"He's capable of doing much better," Callahan said. "He just had an off night. He has two weeks left to prepare for the regular season. Whatever kinks he has, I hope he can get them out in the next two weeks."
Gannon fumbled late in the first half when he was hit by Bryant Young and Andre Carter. The ball skidded nearly 30 yards across the Coliseum's infield dirt, with various players diving at it and missing, before Jason Webster recovered.
Rattay, who's been inconsistent during the preseason while trying to cement his job as Garcia's backup, then led a 36-yard drive for a score, hitting Cedrick Wilson with a nice 15-yard fade pass over Raiders rookie Phillip Buchanon.