GUNNING FOR GANNON

Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon needs to average 294 yards passing over the final three weeks to break Dan Marino's single-season record of 5,084 yards, which has stood since 1984. The Dolphins could greatly help Marino's cause on Sunday, and at the same time increase their chances of beating the Raiders by shutting down Gannon.

That, of course, will not be easy considering Gannon has averaged 323 yards passing in Oakland's first 13 games.

"He's having an outstanding year," said defensive end Jason Taylor. "The guy is making plays all over the field. For an older guy it's pretty astounding. I'm not saying the man is old, but in this business, at his age he's a senior citizen.

"He is having an outstanding year and really makes it difficult for guys to get to him and get him on the ground. We will find some ways to get pressure on him and we're confident our secondary and linebackers will cover down."

Gannon is very difficult to sack because he gets rid of the ball so quickly and also because he moves around well in the pocket.

What makes Gannon so efficient, particulary this year, is his decision-making ability, according to Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt.

"We don't have enough guys to cover everybody," Wannstedt said. "That's the impression you get when you watch their film on offense. It looks like everybody's open half the time and he's making great decisions of getting the ball to the right guy. It seems to be the thing that Rich does better than just about anybody in the league is getting back there and making the right decision and finding the open guy."

Gannon made the Pro Bowl last season, but the Dolphins were able to shut him down when the teams met at Pro Player Stadium in September. The Dolphins held Gannon to only 125 yards on 14-of-25 passing.

Whether they can hold Gannon to that low a number again is highly questionable, but all that matters for the Dolphins is leaving the stadium with a victory. If they can help preserve Marino's record in the process, even better.

"You know what? There is plenty of motivation without Marino's record," Taylor said. "I said after the game the other night, Marino's got every other record in the world. I don't want him to lose this one, but there is plenty of other motivation out there and reasons why we've got to win this ballgame. If in the event we hold Gannon to less than the 300 yards, or whatever he's been getting, then great. But if he throws for 310 and we win the ballgame ... sorry, Dan."


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