QUICK HITTERS: Raiders vs. Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders know how important Sunday's contest is within the division. With the Men in Black securing victories in three of their last four games and the Chiefs limping into the game with numerous starters on the injury list, this game has titanic importance on the balance of the season for each team.

The Chiefs practiced Thursday for a second straight day without their starting quarterback, Pro Bowl left tackle, star running back and two of their top three cornerbacks.

They looked, in short, like anything but the early-line 5-point favorite in Sunday's home game with Oakland, a team they were fortunate to beat in Week Two in Oakland.

The most surprising absentee Thursday was quarterback Trent Green, who understandably missed Wednesday's workout while in St. Louis for the funeral of his father. When Green couldn't return in time for Thursday's session, the Chiefs were left to wonder how ready their veteran of 71 consecutive starts would be on only one full session Friday.

"If he doesn't feel he can play well from not having practiced and going through the anxiety (of his father's death), he would say so," Coach Dick Vermeil said.

"But he played pretty well last week (in the loss to San Diego) under a lot of stress."

But even if the Chiefs should get Green, Willie Roaf, Priest Holmes, Patrick Surtain or Dexter McCleon in time for Sunday's game, they'll have to wonder how well prepared they will be when some of their Pro Bowl players worked only once (or less) during the week.

Can one game make or break a season?

Or even the season after that?

It can when it's between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders, who have long enjoyed one of the NFL's most fierce rivalries.

Two Examples:
Sept. 8, 1997, Oakland Coliseum: Chiefs 28, Raiders 27. Elvis Grbac hits Andre Rison for a 32-yard touchdown pass with three seconds to play for the win as Kansas City rallies from a 27-14 fourth-quarter deficit.

Then Raiders Head Coach Joe Bugel was so stunned after the loss that he locks himself in his office and doesn't open the locker room to the media. It's only Week 2, but the Raiders' season has already circled the drain. They finish 4-12. Chiefs finish 13-3 and claim the AFC West.

Jan. 2, 2000, Arrowhead Stadium: Raiders 41, Chiefs 38 in overtime. In the final regular-season game of the season, Joe Nedney kicked the Chiefs out of the playoffs with a 33-yard field goal in overtime.

It was the first time in 11 years Oakland had beaten the Chiefs at Arrowhead, and they rallied from a 17-0 first-quarter deficit to do it.

Oakland used the game as a springboard to a 12-4 season and a division title the following season. The Chiefs sagged to 7-9.

Now the Raiders 2005 arrive at the moment of truth. With a 3-4 record and 0-2 in the division, Oakland has hope if it hits the midway point 4-4, but has very little chance at making the postseason at 3-5 with a 0-3 division record.

The Chiefs have beaten the Raiders five consecutive times, each time by seven points or less. Consecutive wins over Buffalo and Tennessee don't count for much if they aren't followed by a win in Kansas City.

"We beat two teams that people expected us to beat," running back LaMont Jordan said. "In Kansas City, that's when we're going to find out the identity of this Oakland Raiders team. We go into Arrowhead, into a hostile environment. We're considered to be hostile people, too."

Center Adam Treu, a rookie in 1999, still ranks that season's win over the Chiefs as his favorite game at Arrowhead.

"The older guys, like Steve Wisniewski and Tim Brown, hadn't won there for such a long time, and it was great to see Rich (Gannon) go back and beat his old team," Treu said. "That game not only knocked them out of the playoffs, but it got us over the hump. It really made a big difference in the kind of team we were."

T Willie Roaf missed a second straight workout Thursday after aggravating the hamstring injury that kept him out for 3 3/4 games in the first four weeks of the season. He was downgraded from probable Wednesday to "very questionable, very questionable," in Head Coach Dick Vermeil's words.

RB Priest Holmes missed a second straight practice Thursday while in southern California getting a second neurological opinion on the safety of playing with the head injury he sustained last week in San Diego. He'll tell the Chiefs on Friday whether he feels he can practice and ultimately play against Oakland.

CB Patrick Surtain said he will try to practice Friday, but his injured knee kept him from doing anything at Thursday's workout.

CB Eric Warfield returned to practice Thursday after missing the Wednesday session with a hip pointer from the San Diego game. He took a full workout and said he would be available for Sunday's battle with Jerry Porter and Randy Moss, especially given the Chiefs shortage of healthy corners.

CB Dexter McCleon, who has missed the previous two games with a groin strain, doesn't appear ready to play against Oakland after missing a second workout of the week on Thursday.

CB Dewayne Washington, a 12-year veteran whose best days are behind him, would be a likely starter at one of the cornerback spots if Patrick Surtain or Dexter McCleon are unavailable to play against Oakland.

QB Todd Collins, who hasn't started a game since his 1997 season in Buffalo, took all the first-team practice snaps in Wednesday and Thursday's workouts when starter Trent Green missed both attending the funeral of his father.

WR Randy Moss, listed as questionable with rib, groin and pelvis injuries, did not take a snap in practice for the second consecutive day. On Wednesday, Turner said he thought Moss would be ready to complete a practice.

"I thought he'd be better. (Trainer) Rod Martin thinks he's getting better. We just want him to get to the point where he can run and not have as setback," Turner said.

Turner said a head injury Moss sustained against Tennessee is not a factor.

C Jake Grove missed part of practice and will likely back up Adam Treu at center and Brad Badger at left guard. Although Turner said Grove is sufficiently recovered to play, he has yet to complete a practice since missing three games with arthroscopic knee surgery.

CB Nnamdi Asomugha said he welcomes the added pressure of being the most experienced cornerback with the absence of Charles Woodson (broken fibula) and that he does not feel like a third-year player.

G Langston Walker was released from the hospital (intra-abdominal hemorrhage) Tuesday evening but Turner said it is too early to tell whether Walker could be available to play this year.

P Shane Lechler, who has a punt of 50-plus yards in 28 consecutive games, disputes Turner's claim that he out-kicked the coverage of an 82-yard punt return by Adam "Pacman" Jones that was nullified by penalty. Lechler said the 57-yard punt had a hang time of more than five seconds, which should be sufficient for coverage.

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