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Garner, Raiders roll in wet Oakland

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- The Oakland Raiders worked their "bad
weather plan'' to near perfection.

They just ran and ran and ran.

Charlie Garner made running in deep puddles and a steady
downpour look easy, successfully cutting from side to side and
grinding out yards in the Raiders' 24-0 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday.

Garner carried 29 times for 135 yards and a touchdown as the
Raiders (11-5) locked up the top seed for the AFC playoffs as well
as a much-needed bye they will use to get healthy. They shut out
the Chiefs for the first time in franchise history -- they've played
88 times overall.

"I pride myself in being able to go out and run the football in
any conditions,'' said Garner, who for the first time since coming
from across San Francisco Bay from the 49ers last season was not
limited in his carries.

"Ever since I came over I wanted (that chance). It didn't
present itself until today,'' he said. "When it does, you take
it.''

The Chiefs (8-8) had to win and have several other teams help
them in order to make the playoffs. They missed the postseason for
the fifth straight year.

The Raiders' victory also gave Indianapolis a playoff spot as a
wild-card team, and suddenly the clogged-up AFC playoff picture is
becoming a little more clear.

Rich Gannon completed four of his first five passes, but
finished 7-for-14 for a season-low 79 yards and a touchdown.

Gannon needed 475 yards to break one of the league's most
prestigious records: Dan Marino's 5,084 yards passing in 1984.
Gannon, one of the favorites for the NFL MVP, also fell short of
becoming only the second quarterback to go over 5,000 yards in a
season. He needed 390 to do that.

"It's fine with me,'' Gannon said. "That was not really my
focus.''

Garner ran 1 yard for a score early in the second quarter, then
on Kansas City's next possession, Rod Woodson intercepted Trent
Green to set up another Oakland touchdown -- a 15-yard TD from
Gannon to Doug Jolley.

Zack Crockett added an 8-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter
and Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 27-yard field goal.

Kansas City played without star running back Priest Holmes, who
was sidelined with a hip injury, and it hurt not having him. Holmes
leads the league with 2,287 yards from scrimmage.

The Chiefs managed just 63 yards in the first half -- 22 rushing
-- and only 21 offensive plays to the Raiders' 39. The Chiefs also
had just three first downs before halftime.

Kansas City did not reach the red zone until the final play of
the game when players were already walking onto the field from the
sidelines. The Chiefs failed on fourth down at the Raiders' 38 in
the third quarter and at the 30 in the fourth.

"The offense sat there on the sideline and got cold and wet,
and then when we got back in there, we couldn't get in a rhythm,''
Chiefs receiver and kick returner Dante Hall said.

The rain fell hard from the start. The field was so soaked
before kickoff the Raiders logo in the middle of the field smeared
and paint was spread for several yards. The south end zone was a
pool, along with one 10-yard area of the field on the other end.

Whenever players went down, they typically slid at least 5 yards
and came up with grass and mud stuck in their facemasks.

But the Raiders surely prefer these conditions over the thought
of having to make another playoff trip to the frigid Northeast,
where they were eliminated last season in a snowy, disputed playoff
loss to eventual Super Bowl champion New England.

Saturday's win avenged a 20-10 loss at Kansas City two months
ago -- Oakland's lowest scoring output of the year.

The Raiders have been striving for offensive balance, and
they're finally getting it. For two straight weeks, the running
game has carried them. In a 28-16 win over Denver that earned the
Raiders their third straight division title, Oakland used six
straight running plays in one touchdown drive.

On Saturday, Oakland ran for 280 yards, only the team's second
game over 200 this year and the first since its season-opening win
against Seattle. Aside from Garner, Crockett rushed for 72 yards
and Tyrone Wheatley 69.

"We got here with the pass, and now we can finish it with the
run,'' left tackle Barry Sims said.

The rain added a degree of artistry, too.

In Oakland's first offensive series, Gannon completed a 3-yard
pass to Terry Porter that looked more like a two-handed chest pass
in basketball while he was being dragged down by linebacker Scott
Fujita.

The conditions also made for a more colorful stadium. While
there were plenty of Silver and Black rain ponchos with Raiders
logos, there was also a nice mix of yellow, blue, green and orange
-- a rare sight among the Raider Nation.

"It was tough, especially at the end of the game when it was
all slop,'' Chiefs center Casey Wiegmann said, mud still caked on
his face. "They're not going to cancel the game because of it.''

Game notes
Woodson's interception gave him 69 for his career, moving
him into third place on the NFL's all-time list. ... Kurt Warner
passed for 4,830 yards last year for the second-best season after
Marino. Gannon is third with 4,689. ... Crockett had a career-best
33-yard run in the fourth quarter. ... Gannon's previous passing
low this year was 164 in an overtime loss to San Francisco. ... The
Chiefs were last shut out on Sept. 25, 1994, by the Los Angeles
Rams.

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