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Blanked by the Bay

Raiders shut out Dolphins, advance to AFC title tilt

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Posted: Saturday January 06, 2001 7:30 PM
Updated: Sunday January 07, 2001 3:03 PM

  Rich Gannon Rich Gannon completed 12 of 18 passes for 140 yards and a TD, and rushed for 30 yards. AP

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Tory James didn't wait until he reached the end zone to start celebrating.

The Oakland cornerback high-stepped for the final 25 yards of his 90-yard interception return that started the Raiders on a 27-0 rout of the Miami Dolphins on Saturday.

The victory sent Oakland to the AFC Championship Game for the first time since the 1990 season.

"Before I go to sleep, I always visualize making plays," James said. "It seems like [Saturday] my dreams came true."

The Raiders (13-4), who had not been in the playoffs since 1993, will play the winner of Sunday's game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans.

Rich Gannon completed 12 of 18 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown. Tyrone Wheatley ran for another score and rookie Sebastian Janikowski kicked two field goals.

The Dolphins (12-6), who had won three consecutive regular-season games in Oakland, couldn't overcome a 20-0 first-half deficit. The Raiders have allowed only two touchdowns in their last 15 quarters at home.

It was the latest postseason humiliation for the Dolphins, who have been beaten by the combined score of 127-10 at this stage of playoffs the last three years.

Fish Fry
Click the image to launch the clip's Tom Rinaldi looks into how the Raiders were able to completely shut down the Dolphins. Start

Related Video: Tory's Turn | Gannon's Goal
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Last season, the Dolphins were blown out 62-7 by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional playoff game. Two years ago, they were defeated 38-3 in the second-round by the Denver Broncos.

"Every team has its cross to bear, its hurdle to get over," Miami wide receiver Oronde Gadsden said. "The second round of the playoffs is ours."

Jay Fiedler was 18-of-38 for 176 yards and three interceptions for Miami.

The Raiders couldn't get much done offensively on their first series, so their defense helped out on Miami's first possession.

With the Dolphins on the Raiders' 17, James intercepted Fiedler's pass for Leslie Shepherd and ran it back for the touchdown -- high-stepping with fellow cornerback Charles Woodson.

"After going three-and-out on the first series, I sagged," Oakland head coach Jon Gruden said. "Next thing you know, old No. 20 is down the sidelines."

It was the first career touchdown for James, a five-year NFL veteran in his first season with the Raiders. He added another interception in the fourth quarter.

Oakland went up 10-0 on Janikowski's 36-yard field goal with 4:52 left in the first quarter. He added a 33-yard field goal midway through the second quarter.

Janikowski, the 17th pick overall and the only kicker taken in the first round since 1979, has hit 18 of his last 22 field-goal attempts. His 58-yard field-goal attempt at the end of the first half fell short.

Turnovers hurt the Dolphins. Woodson recovered Lamar Smith's fumble Miami's 43, and Gannon hit James Jett with a 6-yard touchdown pass with 1:53 to go before halftime.

The Dolphins' sixth-ranked defense couldn't stop the pumped-up Raiders, who had not played host to a playoff game in Oakland since 1980.

In the first half alone, Gannon completed 10-of-13 passes for 117 yards. In the second half, the Raiders' top-rated rushing offense took over.

Wheatley, the Raiders' top back with 242 carries for a career-high 1,046 yards and nine touchdowns in the regular season, scored from two yards out with 5:56 left in the third quarter.

Gannon, named to the Pro Bowl and the All-Pro Team, ran five times for four first downs.

James, who had been obscured by the skills of Woodson and Eric Allen, almost added another touchdown as well.

Late in the third quarter, the ball was knocked from Fiedler's hands in what appeared to be a fumble. James scooped up the ball and ran it back 47 yards into the end zone -- again accompanied by Woodson.

But Fielder's throw was ruled an incomplete pass, negating James' effort.

The Raiders' defense effectively shut down Smith, who came into the game with 13 touchdowns in Miami's last 10 games. He finished with eight carries for four yards, a week after rushing for 209 yards on a playoff-record 40 carries.

Gadsden, Miami's top receiver, managed just one catch for 33 yards.

After the game, Gruden sprinted across the field and high-fived end zone fans in Oakland's infamous Black Hole.

"We're proud to be part of a good season," he said. "We'd like to make it a great season."

Related information
Poised, patient Raiders carve up Dolphins' D
Deja vu: Dolphins dismal in second round again
Dolphins-Raiders Game Summary
Oakland coach Jon Gruden says Tory James made a key play in the game. (209 K)
Gruden says the Raiders played outstanding defense. (168 K)
A win over a tough Dolphins team has made Gruden a happy camper. (138 K)
Gruden thinks the Raiders can attack on offense in many ways. (264 K)
Gruden appreciates the support the rowdy Raiders fans provided. (157 K)
Tory James thinks it was his time to make a big contribution. (102 K)
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