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Updated: Monday, November 25, 2002 2:06 AM EST
NFL RECAP
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Oakland 41, Arizona 20
OAKLAND RAIDERS
Oakland Raiders
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ARIZONA CARDINALS
Arizona Cardinals
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TEMPE, Arizona (Ticker) -- Rich Gannon and the league's top offense continue to impress.

Gannon passed for 340 yards and three touchdowns as the Oakland Raiders pulled away from the Arizona Cardinals in the third quarter en route to a 41-20 triumph.

It was the eighth time this year that Gannon surpassed 300 passing yards, one shy of the NFL record. He completed 27-of-45 passes with one interception as the Raiders (7-4) won their third straight contest following a four-game losing streak and moved into a three-way tie with Denver and San Diego for first place in the AFC West.

Charlie Garner rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown and caught five passes for 82 yards, while 40-year-old Jerry Rice caught seven passes for 112 yards and a score.

"Rich is having an outstanding year, but we still are not there and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth," Rice said. "The defense gave us great field position in the beginning of the game, to help the offense get rolling. We just try to get the ball in the end zone after the defense gave us great field position."

Oakland held a 21-14 advantage before scoring 17 unanswered points in the final 9:45 of the third quarter. Tyrone Wheatley punched it in from two yards out, Gannon tossed a 37-yard strike to Rice and Sebastien Janikowski kicked a 37-yard field goal in the burst.

"Their offense dominated that game in the third quarter," Arizona coach Dave McGinnis said. "It took us out of a lot of things I thought we were going to be able to do offensively with the score 21-14. I felt we had something going on. The third quarter was a huge key to the football game once we had recovered from giving them two quick scores after the short field."

Jake Plummer went 16-of-34 for 145 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for Arizona (4-7), which lost its fifth straight game. Plummer also lost a fumble trying to lateral the ball on an aborted play at Arizona's 21 that led to the game's first points, on a seven-yard TD toss from Gannon to Jerry Porter with 8:51 to play in the first quarter.

"It was a 'check with me' (play)," Plummer said. "It was kind of loud, and (running back Marcel Shipp ) didn't hear it. I was going down and had the wrong brain cell react and I tried to do something stupid. It was one of those plays that makes it to the 'folly films' and I can't tell you why I did it. I kind of tried to flip it back to him, but it was one of those plays when I have to eat it."

Oakland, which led thereafter, made it 14-0 on an eight-yard run by Garner with 1:14 left in the period after linebacker Eric Barton intercepted Plummer at the Cardinals' 33.

"There was outstanding individual effort in this game," Raiders coach Bill Callahan said. "We are very happy with our offensive and defensive effort, especially in the beginning of the game. I thought our defense came out and responded very well and caused two turnovers, which got this team rolling."

Shipp rushed for a career-high 135 yards and a touchdown on just 16 carries for Arizona, but he gained all but 13 yards in the first half. Shipp was making his first NFL start after Thomas Jones broke his hand on Friday.

"We wanted to come out and do what worked for us in the first half, and that was run the ball," Shipp said. "They have an explosive offense and came with 14 quick ones on us and switched our whole game plan. We had to throw the ball a lot more."

"He had some big runs," Plummer said. "He got his chance to start and made the most out of it. We fell behind and couldn't keep giving him the ball, which was too bad, because he could have had a real big day. But that's Marcel, he's been patient and has been making plays for us. We just have to try to keep getting him the ball more."

Shipp's three-yard run made it 14-7 1:07 into the second quarter. Gannon made it 21-7 with a 14-yard pass to Porter with 5:02 to play before Plummer got the Cardinals within seven points with a one-yard pass to Joel Mackovicka 1:13 before the break.

The Cardinals have allowed 171 points during their five-game losing streak.

Despite committing 13 penalties for 105 yards, Oakland outgained Arizona, 520-263, and held the ball for 36:17.

"We felt by watching film that we knew that we could do whatever we wanted, by either passing or running it," Porter said.

"They have a lot of options, and those guys play some pretty good football," Cardinals safety Kwamie Lassiter said. "That's the No. 1 passing offense team in the NFL. I felt we played a pretty good game defensively as far as with energy - we went out there aggressively and played physical. They are the No. 1 team on offense and got a couple of early touchdowns to put us in a hole, which is hard to come back from."

Wheatley gained 82 yards on 13 carries for the Raiders, who averaged 5.1 yards per carry.

"We need a win," McGinnis said. "I'm approaching this football team differently than when we were 4-2. We've lost five in a row. I can't even imagine that."


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