Oakland - Raiders rookie corner Phillip Buchanan gave himself a C+ when asked to rate his performance on Sunday.
Buchanan's grading scale may be just a tad harsh considering his performance. His first professional start in relief of injured Pro Bowler Charles Woodson may be as memorable as any defensive rookie start in recent history.
Buchanan intercepted the very first pass thrown his way. The play was challenged by the Titans and subsequently overturned, but it appeared to be a good catch. None the less, the message was clear, Buchanan was prepared to protect his air space from invasion by Tennessee's Air McNair.
When asked about the opening play Buchanan said "that's messed up, I should have had it, but I can't change that," speaking of the replay challenge that overturned the play and took away his first NFL interception. Obviously unfazed by the referee's lack of appreciation for his work, Buchanan returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown on the next possession. He intercepted another McNair pass in the fourth quarter that would count. Later he executed a fake return and handoff after a punt reception that led to a touchdown and finished with seven tackles.
"We were not concerned about (starting) Phillip," said Raiders coach Bill Callahan, "We have a lot of confidence in Phillip.
The Raiders game looked sharp in every area. They amassed a 21-0 lead less than five minutes into the game and never looked back. The Titans got as close as 14 points late in the third quarter. The Raiders offense answered with an 8-play 72 yard scoring drive culminating with a 10-yard pass to Jerry Porter to take a 45-25 lead.
Rich Gannon was 29 of 39 for 381 yards and four touchdowns, but the day belonged to the special teams with two punt returns for touchdowns and four interceptions, three by Rod Woodson.
Jerry Rice finished with 151 total yards to give him 21,281 for his career, passing Walter Payton at 20,649 to become the NFL's all-time yardage leader.
Rod Woodson's three interceptions, including one returned 82 yards for a touchdown, made him the NFL's career leader in interception return yardage.
The Raiders dominated the game with great special teams play, tough defense, and a wide-open offense. "We wanted to give them something they hadn't seen before and we did," said Callahan. "You have to credit the players."
If Raiders Fans were concerned about this team and its direction they should rest easy after watching the silver and black unleash one the most dominating performances seen in the Coliseum in a long time.
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