‘'She said she had some cookies for me,'' said Rice. ‘'I told her, ‘No thanks. I'll meet you up in the stands later.' " Rice made good on his promise, leaping into the Black Hole stands after scoring the first of his two touchdowns in the Raiders 38-14 thumping of the Seattle Seahawks before a crowd of 54,629 at Networks Associates Coliseum.
The NFL's all-time leader in career touchdown receptions, Rice scored on touchdown passes of 33 and 14 yards from quarterback Rich Gannon, both of them coming in the first half when Oakland jumped out to a 24-point lead and never looked back. The touchdowns were the first for Rice since he signed with the Raiders this past offseason. Though he had eight receptions in Oakland's first game this season, the veteran wideout admitted he wasn't fully comfortable with the team's offense. He was openly critical of himself after being held to just one catch in the loss to Miami a week prior and vowed to redeem himself. He did that Sunday against a Seattle secondary that was banged up.
The Seahawks were without their best cornerback, Shawn Springs, who is injured. Willie Williams, the other starting cornerback, just returned to practice last week after missing two weeks with his own injury. Rice smoked Seattle safety Reggie Tongue for the Raiders first touchdown of the game. Running a simple post pattern, Rice broke inside on the slant and quickly distanced himself from Tongue as Rich Gannon's pass settled into his arms. Rice raced into the end zone for the touchdown then leaped into the stands where he was mobbed by the fans in Oakland's infamous Black Hole. Rice ran a similar pattern on his second touchdown after Gannon – noticing the Seahawks were covering Rice with a safety – checked off at the line of scrimmage and audibled a pass play to Rice.
"It was one of those situations today where I didn't have to think,'' said Rice, who was held to just one catch in Oakland's loss to Miami a week earlier. "Ijust relaxed and when you're in a situation like that, you're going to play better.''
Gannon came through with the type of performance the Raiders have come to expect from their quarterback. A week after getting shut out of the end zone and being held to just 122 yards passing in the loss to Miami, Gannon completed 19 of 28 pass attempts for 217 yards and three touchdowns against Seattle. He also scored on a quarterback draw before being relieved in the fourth quarter by rookie Marques Tuiasosopo.
"I'm just excited because when (Rice) goes into the Hall of Fame, somewhere in the small print of guys who have thrown him touchdowns, my name will be there,'' said Gannon, who has thrown 57 touchdown passes in 35 games with the Raiders. "I thought we did everything we talked about doing. We're a resilient football team so it was good for us to come back after last week.''
Hasselbeck, on the other hand, couldn't buy a break. The lowest-rated starting quarterback in the NFL heading into the game, Hasselbeck was under heavy pressure from Oakland's defensive line from the moment the game began. The Raiders sacked Hasselbeck six times, intercepted him once, and hammered him to the turf on numerous other occasions, before he was replaced by Trent Dilfer midway through the third quarter. But Hasselbeck was forced back into the game after just three plays when Dilfer was knocked out by Oakland linebacker Elijah Alexander, who was flagged for unnecessary roughness and ejected from the game.
Hasselbeck would later leave the game again after injuring his ankle. It didn't help Seattle's cause that running back Ricky Watters lasted less than seven minutes before leaving the game with a sprained right shoulder. Watters was injured after being dropped for a three-yard loss by Oakland defensive linemen Grady Jackson and Josh Taves on a fourth-and-one play. He spent the rest of the afternoon on Seattle's sidelines with an icepack taped to his shoulder.
"Rickey is really the main part of their offense,'' said Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson, who collected the first two sacks of his NFL career. "It definitely made them change up their game plan without him in there.'' Not that Watters could have made that much of a difference. Oakland's defense swarmed to the ball all afternoon. When they weren't pounding Seattle's quarterbacks into submission, the Raiders were hammering the Seahawks' running backs. Seattle rushed for just 42 yards and didn't score its first touchdown of the season until 4:58 remained in the third quarter. Everyone got into the act for Oakland's defense. Eric Allen scored on a 26-yard fumble recovery; the Raiders notched seven sacks for the game and knocked both Hasselbeck and Dilfer out of the game; they also recovered a pair of Seattle fumbles and twice stopped the Seahawks on fourth down.
"We were really rolling today,'' said linebacker William Thomas, who also had two sacks for the Raiders. ‘'We knew we had to step it up after what happened (against Miami). We had a chance to win that game on defense and we didn't do it. Today, all three phases of our team were on, and when that's happening, it's hard to beat us.''
The Raiders led 7-0 on Rice's first touchdown then tacked on a 20-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal midway through the second quarter. Two plays later, Alexander and rookie defensive tackle Chris Cooper hammered Seattle running back Shaun Alexander, knocking the ball loose deep in the Seahawks territory. Allen, who scored three touchdowns on interception returns last season, scooped the ball up at Seattle's 26-yard line and raced into the end zone to build Oakland's lead to 17-0. Leading 24-0 at halftime, the Raiders kept pouring it on in the third quarter. Gannon scored on a five-yard quarterback draw on Oakland's first possession of the second half, and following Cooper's first career NFL interception, Gannon hit running back Tyrone Wheatley with a three-yard scoring toss that put the game out of reach at 38-0.
"After you lose a game like last week you want to come back and tighten things up and play well and play hard,'' said middle linebacker Greg Biekert. "We did that today.''