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Oakland 34, San Diego 24

Nov. 18, 2001 at 10:17 PM   |   Comments

OAKLAND, Calif., Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Jerry Rice caught eight passes for 131 yards and three touchdowns Sunday, including the go-ahead, 20-yard score with 2:46 left in the fourth quarter, as the Oakland Raiders outlasted the San Diego Chargers, 34-24.

The NFL's all-time leader in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns, Rice also caught scoring passes of 12 and 30 yards and has 38 receptions for 637 yards and nine touchdowns in five career games against San Diego.

"I'm learning the system here and it's all about just feeling more relaxed on the football field," Rice said. "The explosion is still there. I feel like I can run away from guys once I catch the football."

Rice had 1,281 receptions for 19,291 yards and 187 touchdowns in 16 glorious seasons with the San Francisco 49ers before moving across the bay. In nine games with the Raiders, the 39-year-old receiver has 44 catches for 577 yards and six scores.

"Jerry has the same hop in his step and accelerates out of his break so well," Chargers quarterback Doug Flutie said of Rice's performance.

Rich Gannon threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns, also connecting with Tim Brown on a 10-yard scoring play.

"I can't imagine he (Rice) has slowed down," Gannon said. "We didn't go into the game thinking we could match Jerry against this guy or that guy, but he got open consistently."

The Raiders (7-2) extended their regular season home winning streak to 10 games and remained tied with Pittsburgh for the best record in the AFC.

The Chargers (5-5) suffered their third straight loss and fell for the seventh time in their last eight meetings with the Raiders.

Oakland won both games over San Diego last season by a total of eight points and this one was tied at 24-24 after Chargers rookie LaDainian Tomlinson scored on a one-yard run with 9:57 left in the fourth quarter.

But Oakland put together a seven-play, 65-yard scoring drive later in the quarter. Gannon hit running back Charlie Garner with an 18-yard pass and ran 16 yards to the San Diego 21 to highlight the drive.

On a second and nine at the San Diego 20, Rice lined up on the right side, ran a stutter slant on rookie cornerback Tay Cody and caught the pass over the middle before racing past safety Jason Perry into the end zone.

"He was up the field so quick, I thought I was going to miss the throw," Gannon said of the go-ahead touchdown.

Flutie, who played poorly for the second straight week, fumbled a snap and Raiders linebacker William Thomas returned it 11 yards to the San Diego 16 to set up a 25-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski with 55 seconds left to seal the win.

Flutie completed just 12 of 27 passes for 98 yards with an interception. He was 12 of 31 and intercepted four times in San Diego's 26-16 loss at Denver last week.

"We had a chance to make plays, we just didn't," Flutie said. "But this one bugs me because I felt ready to have a great game. Everything felt right."

© 2001 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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