Going deep

When the Oakland Raiders first signed quarterback Kerry Collins from the New York Giants, the question was how soon would he replace Rich Gannon?

The Raiders have remained steadfast in their belief that Gannon is still the man. So, instead of the dreaded "C" word, as in "controversy," people are now inquiring about the "D" word, as in "deep ball."

Both Gannon and Collins had success completing long passes in the Raiders 21-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys Saturday night even though both had less-than-smashing overall stats. Gannon completed 7-of-15 passes for 92 yards while Collins was 1-of-5 for 89 yards, a touchdown pass to Doug Gabriel. Like Collins, Gannon had success completing deep passes as two of his completions went for over 20 yards. Jerry Rice caught a 23-yard pass from Gannon while Jerry Porter hauled in a 41-yard.

Those types of passes were hardly Gannon's forte in the past but his sometimes abrasive personality becomes evident when people ask him about completing long passes.

"Whatever the play is that gets called, you just try to make the right decision," Gannon said. "People want to make a big deal about throwing the ball down the field. We're going to throw the ball down the field. Let's get that out in the open. We're going to take our shots. It's not going to be an aerial fest. We're going to be smart about it. I think a lot is being made about whether or not we're going to be able to throw the ball down the ball."

He continued.

"You know what, this is football," Gannon said somewhat defensively. "It's football. You take shots. Go back ad watch the films. I've been in the league for 17 years, I can throw the ball down the field as well as anyone. It's kind of ridiculous to be answering questions about throwing the ball down the field."

In a 33-30 win over San Francisco, both Gannon and Collins shined. So unless Gannon totally stinks or Collins plays lights out, it's hard to imagine any other scenario than Gannon being the starting quarterback. Collins' 89-yard touchdown pass looks nice on the stat sheet but 1-of-5 will not get it done.

"It was a big play but the other part of my night was average at best," Collins said. "It didn't seem like we really got going when I was in there. It just seemed like we weren't I sync and in rhythm."

On the other half of the coin, the Raiders' reliance on the long ball creates a different situation than the short-to-intermediate approach that former coaches Jon Gruden and Bill Callahan preferred.

"That's classic Norv," Raiders running back Tyrone Wheatley said referring to current Raiders head coach Norv Turner. "When you have guys like Alvis Whitted, Doug Gabriel, Jerry Porter, that can go get it, it makes it easy to throw it up there. You just have to get guys one-on-one. In the past, you didn't want the defense to blitz, now you hope they blitz."

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