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Volume 68, Issue 52, Wednesday, November 6, 2002


Oakland chokes on field goal

The Longest Yard

Stuart H. Clements

The San Francisco 49ers held off quarterback Rich Gannon and the Oakland Raiders offense to improve to 6-2, maintaining the top spot in the NFC West for yet another week.

The 49ers pulled off a 23-20 victory and kicker Jose Cortez saved his job, at least for one more week. Cortez missed two consecutive field goals during regulation, including a last-second game winner, before he finally hit the target to take the game in overtime.

While the 49ers are shining in the NFC West, the Raiders continued to flounder for the fourth straight week in the AFC West. Four weeks ago, the Raiders were one of a few undefeated teams, and now theyive dropped straight to .500 like a rock.

With the San Diego Chargers performing so well, the Raiders are really shooting themselves in the foot. Right now they are tied at the bottom of the AFC West, when just a few weeks ago, they were seated atop the division.

The No. 1 Chargers picked up their second loss this weekend, but it doesnit really throw a wrench in the system as long as they win the next one. Oakland must travel to face Denver (also 6-2 in the AFC West) and this game might decide whether the Raiders make the playoffs.

Lucky 38

Three teams won their games this weekend by scoring 38 points. New England effectively shut down future hall-of-famer Drew Bledsoe.

While quarterback Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champions scored lucky 38, the Buffalo Bills squeezed out only one touchdown, losing to the Patriots 38-7.

It seems as though there was too much hype about watching past Patriots play-caller Bledsoe play present play-caller Brady. The score was skewed. Bledsoe threw for 302 yards, only eight yards less than Bradyis 310.

The loss is no skin off the Billsi backs. The team from Buffalo still leads the Patriots by a half-game in the AFC East, 5-3 to 5-4.

In a surprise victory over the Houston Texans, the Cincinnati Bengals picked up their first win of the season, 38-3. The Bengals only had to lose their first seven games before it was their turn.

Many critics thought it was terribly risky and nearly stupid for the team to guarantee a win over the Texans, but they were finally able to back up such strong convictions.

Really, this one has to fall on the Texans. I realize theyire an infant expansion team, but how do you come off a win to play the lousiest team in the nation and lose? Weill never know what happened. My guess: an old-fashioned choke.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked up their seventh win of the season against the Minnesota Vikings, 38-24. The Bucs ran up the score in the first frame, 14-0, and although the Vikings matched each point thereafter, they werenit able to gain any momentum.

While weire talking numerology: The Dallas Cowboys seem to be plagued by the number 9. In two of the teamis last three games, the Cowboys have lost when the other team scored nine points first to the Arizona Cardinals, and most recently to the Detroit Lions.

Itis sad to see Americais team lose, especially since itis such a monumental year for star running back Emmitt Smith.

Isnit numerology fun?

I donit know anything about the number 38 or the number 9, but if any fearless Cougars out there would care to enlighten me, e-mail me at

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