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2000 Raiders Rallied to Beat Manning, Colts

The rich history of the Las Vegas Raiders is full of great players, and wins.  Perhaps none of the non-Super Bowl victories are as big as a rally to beat Peyton Manning.
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The Oakland-Los Angeles-Las Vegas Raiders have had some memorable come-from-behind victories in their history, which dates to 1960.

One of the best came against Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 10, 2000, before 56,769 fans disbelieving fans in the RCA Dome at Indianapolis in the second game of the season.

The Colts, who were 13-3 the previous season before losing to the Tennessee Titans, 19-16, in the divisional round of the American Football Conference playoffs, built a 21-0 lead over the  Raiders early in the second quarter after Manning threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Pollard and Edgerrin James ran for touchdowns of six and 10 yards.

No surprise, as the Raiders had been 8-8 the season before in Jon Gruden’s first year as a coach and missed the playoffs.

Then something amazing happened.

“It was midway through the first quarter, and I was picking up some of (Manning’s) calls at the line of scrimmage,” said middle linebacker Greg Biekert of the Raiders, who suddenly was reading exactly what the Colts were going to do on almost every play.

"Normally, it happens two or three times a season, that you can pick up signals. I got a feeling and figured out what their calls were. I listened to his audibles and watched the play they ran. Before four or five plays were over, I basically knew what they were going to run.”

The Raiders slowed Manning and the Colts' offense for the rest of the half and quarterback Rich Gannon ran for a three-yard touchdown to get Oakland closer before Mike Vanderjagt kicked a 24-yard field goal to give Indianapolis a 24-7 halftime lead.

There still was no indication that the Raiders might win.

“There was some yelling in the dressing room at halftime, but it wasn’t any finger-pointing,” Biekert recalled. “We were encouraging each other. We hadn’t done a good job of disguising defenses. Manning was reading what we were going to do and taking advantage of it.

“I let some of the linebackers know to watch for this play or the defensive line to watch for that play. Before long, everybody was trying to listen in and get an idea. They started with the draw and then started going to the counters, and I would call out the counters. Before long, most of the defense had an idea what was going on and we used it to our advantage.”

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Added Raiders defensive end Lance Johnstone: “We were off-balance in the first half. In the second half, we made up our minds that we were going to rush hard and be more aggressive.”

As the Raiders shut down Manning and the Colts’ offensive in the third quarter, Gannon scrambled for touchdown runs of seven and three yards to give him three scores for the game, and Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 24-yard field goal to pull the Silver and Black even, 24-24, late in the third quarter.

Then, as the Raiders continued to slow down Manning and the Colts’ offense, fullback Tyrone Wheatley ran six yards for a touchdown to give Oakland its first lead at 31-24 and Wheatley added a one-yard score to make it 38-24 with 5:39 left in the game.

Manning rallied the Colts with a 50-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Marvin Harrison with 4:07 remaining and moved Baltimore to the Raiders’ 34-yard-line, but on fourth and long, Manning threw a bomb to the end zone that cornerback Torey James intercepted for his second pick of the game and the upset was complete, 38-31.

Oakland gained 235 yards in the second half while limiting Indianapolis to 145 as the Raiders controlled the ball for almost 20 of the final 30 minutes.

The victory started the Raiders on a surge in which they won nine of 11 games on their way to a 12-4 record and their first American Football Conference West title since 1990, but after routing the Miami Dolphins, 27-0, in the divisional round of the playoffs they lost, 16-3, to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game.

Gannon sustained a right shoulder injury in the title game on a questionable hit by defensive tackle Tony Siragusa, who later was fined $10,000 by the National Football League for his action on the play.

Although Gannon remained in the game, he was ineffective and Raider Nation could only speculate whether he could have repeated what he did in the victory over the Colts.

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