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American Football: Collins makes case to be Raiders' leading man

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Ben

posted on Aug, 22 2004 @ 09:02 AM
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Rich Gannon already is getting sick of the questions about downfield throws.

But after Kerry Collins' one completion covered almost as many yards as Rich Gannon's seven, the questions about which quarterback is better suited in the Oakland Raiders' new offense are bound to keep coming.

Collins' 89-yard scoring strike to Doug Gabriel in the third quarter was the biggest play of the game before the Dallas Cowboys rallied to beat Oakland 21-20 on Tony Romo's 1-yard keeper with six seconds left Saturday night.

Gannon did have one good deep ball, a 41-yard pass to Jerry Porter, but five of his completions went for under 10 yards.

"This is football," Gannon said. "We're going to take shots down the field. Go back and watch film. I've been in this league 17 years. I can throw the ball down field as well as anyone. These are ridiculous questions."

After Dallas' first-team offense was kept out of the end zone for the second straight week, the Cowboys' backup quarterbacks -- Drew Henson and Romo -- sparked touchdown drives in the second half.

Romo came in with 4:43 left and the Cowboys (1-1) trailing 20-15. He led them on a 59-yard game-winning drive with the biggest play coming on a 13-yard pass to rookie Sean Ryan on fourth-and-9 from the 14. Romo ran it in on the next play.

"We got much better balance in our attack," Dallas coach Bill Parcells said. "The passing game was much better tonight. We got all three quarterbacks in the game and all three engineered a long drive so that's good news."

The big moment to that point was Collins' long pass. After years of running the West Coast offense under Jon Gruden and Bill Callahan, the Raiders hired coach Norv Turner, who prefers a more vertical passing game. While Gannon's strength is his pinpoint accuracy on short passes, Collins is better at getting the ball downfield.

He showed off that arm strength on the second drive of the third quarter for Oakland (1-1). He took the snap at the 11 and lofted a ball down the sideline. Gabriel beat Jemeel Powell on the play, pulled the ball in around midfield and ran in for the score.

Collins led the New York Giants to the Super Bowl after the 2000 season but was let go after the team made Eli Manning the No. 1 pick in the draft. The Raiders signed him, and a quarterback controversy started immediately, despite attempts by Turner and Collins to insist that Gannon is the starter.

Gannon was 7-for-15 for 92 yards, while Collins finished 1-for-5 against the Cowboys.

"The other part of my night was average at best," Collins said. "We didn't really get the offense going when I was in there."

Gannon's pass to Porter set up a 6-yard touchdown run by Justin Fargas. Gannon also hit Jerry Rice on a 23-yard sideline route on an opening 18-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 23-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski.

But Gannon and third-stringer Marques Tuiasosopo also threw long passes wide, turning two potential big plays into incompletions out of bounds.

"Rich has thrown the ball upfield and done a nice job," Turner said. "He didn't get many chances to go upfield last week. I was disappointed in a couple of throws when we weren't able to keep the ball in bounds."

After being shut out by Houston in the preseason opener last week, Dallas got inside the 20 three times in the first half but settled for field goals.

Vinny Testaverde went 13-for-17 for 124 yards as the Raiders' rebuilt defensive line struggled to apply pressure on the 40-year-old quarterback.

Testaverde completed four passes in the half to Keyshawn Johnson, his favorite target when the two played for the New York Jets. Johnson had one catch in the opener.

"We improved what we did a week ago but we still need to improve and get the ball into the end zone and not just kick field goals," Testaverde said.

Henson, the former baseball prospect, led Dallas on its first touchdown drive of the preseason, a 3-yard run by rookie Julius Jones in the third quarter.

Jones finished with 14 carries for 56 yards and Henson went 7-for-9 for 53 yards.




posted on Aug, 23 2004 @ 08:30 AM
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I would prefer to see the Raiders start Collins, becaue of his age, he is a bit younger and would be more stable in the pocket.



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