Bengals fall in final seconds

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 15, 2003

OAKLAND, Calif. - Jeff Burris was flagged for pass interference in the final seconds and suddenly Cincinnati's hopes of finally winning in Oakland were dashed.

The Bengals had come so close.

Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 39-yard field goal, his third of the game, with 9 seconds left as the Raiders overcame a lackluster performance to beat the Bengals 23-20 on Sunday.

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Cincinnati fell to 0-9 at the Coliseum. But for more than three quarters, this seemed to be the Bengals' shot. They have beaten the Raiders just once in 13 tries in California, with that victory coming in 1988 when the Raiders were in Los Angeles.

''We didn't come here to lose,'' said first-year Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who had his team travel on Friday instead of Saturday to get acclimated. ''Things don't always go the way you plan. We didn't panic, we didn't give up. We hung in there and relaxed. There was no panic on the sideline. We came to play, and we did.''

Oakland's offense sputtered through another week, barely surviving against the lowliest team of the last decade. The Raiders (1-1) have yet to find a rhythm on offense, and lost their final three exhibition games and their opener last week at Tennessee.

They got a break on their final drive when Burris was called for pass interference against Jerry Rice, giving Oakland the ball on the Cincinnati 22 with 23 seconds left.

''I didn't come back for this,'' said the 40-year-old Rice, in his 19th NFL season. ''We're at home. We won the game, but we didn't play well. I have a problem with that.''

Rich Gannon completed a 25-yard pass to Charlie Garner with 36 seconds left to put the Raiders on the 37. Gannon then threw two incomplete passes before Burris was penalized.

Jon Kitna calmly rallied his team back to tie it at 20 with 1:18 left when he completed an 8-yard TD pass to Peter Warrick minutes after throwing a costly interception.

The Bengals (0-2) picked on Phillip Buchanon all day in the secondary, then the young cornerback made one of the biggest plays when he picked off Kitna's pass and returned it 83 yards for the go-ahead touchdown to make it 20-13 with 3:46 to go.

The interception spoiled a fine day for Kitna, who outplayed Gannon, last season's NFL MVP, for most of the day. Kitna completed 25 of 41 passes for 303 yards and a touchdown.

a week after an awful outing in his team's 30-10 season-opening loss to Denver.

Gannon, hit hard during the Raiders' first drive, finished 13-for-28 with 103 yards and no TDs.

It was his worst game for passing yards since Sept. 23, 2001, when he threw for 125 yards at Miami. He had only 79 yards on 7-for-14 passing in a rainstorm last Dec. 28 against Kansas City when the Raiders primarily ran the ball.

''I was struggling physically,'' Gannon said. ''I had spasms in my back all day, but that's not the reason we struggled today. I'm sure everybody's got an opinion. I'll just keep my opinions to myself right now. We need to be more cohesive.''

Cincinnati's Corey Dillon hyperextended his right knee late in the first half and played sporadically the rest of the way. Dillon was limited to 84 yards on 19 carries, but had 71 of those in the first half.

''I'm walking,'' he said. ''There was no point in hurting it any more than it was. It's only the second week of the season.''