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Raiders Outlast Rams, 18-17


Pretty or not, Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden will take it.

Helped by three St. Louis turnovers, Gruden's team overcame an 11-point, fourth-quarter deficit and earned an 18-17 NFL exhibition victory over the St. Louis Rams on Saturday night.

"You might say its a preseason game," Gruden said. "But we said all along, we don't care who we're playing, we don't care what we're playing for, we just want to win. We found a way to do it."

Gruden was also pleased by the play of starting quarterback Rich Gannon. Making his Raiders debut, Gannon was 7-of-10 for 68 yards and directed a scoring drive.

Gannon, who signed as a free agent from Kansas City in the offseason, left with 7:32 remaining in the first half after directing an 82-yard scoring drive that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown run by Randy Jordan. That came after he tossed an interception in the previous series.

"I was trying to throw it to Napoleon (Kaufman)," Gannon said of his miscue. "It was a combination of things. Them making a good play and me making a poor decision."

After that, Gannon insisted on going out for one more series.

"He's a competitive guy," Gruden said. " That was a good drive against some tough circumstances. I was impressed with the plays he made along the way. He got us back in the ballgame and gave us a chance to win."

Trent Green, who grew up in St. Louis, had a successful homecoming with the Rams, completing 7-of-8 passes for 119 yards including a 39-yard touchdown to rookie Torry Holt. Green, who played for Washington last season, signed with the Rams as an unrestricted free agent this winter.

"I was a little nervous during the introductions, but when I started, I was into it," Green said. "It seemed like every play worked the way it was supposed to."

Rams running back Marshall Faulk was in uniform, but did not play. Faulk ended his holdout by signing a seven-year, $45 million contract Wednesday. Greg Hill started in his place and had 29 yards on five carries.

Rams backup running back Robert Holcombe left in the second quarter with a dislocated right shoulder, and is expected to miss two to four weeks.

The Rams (0-1) led 17-6, but set up the Raiders' comeback by turning the ball over three times in the fourth quarter.

Afte Rams running back James Hodgins lost his second fumble of the half, rookie quarterback Scott Dreisbach led the Raiders on a 48-yard touchdown drive. Dreisbach hit tight end Marcus Hinton with a 6-yard touchdown pass with 1:38 remaining to give the Raiders (1-0) the victory.

Still, St. Louis coach Dick Vermeil saw a silver lining.

"There were a lot of good things tonight," Vermeil said, "but there were a lot of bad things, too. Our first unit was crisp and Trent was doing a great job of throwing to Isaac and Tory."

Holt, the sixth pick overall in this spring's NFL draft, did not start at wide receiver for the Rams. With the Rams leading 3-0, Holt scored the first time he touched the ball when Green hit him on a fly pattern with 4:05 left in the first quarter.

That turned out to be Green's last play, as Kurt Warner came in. Holt finished with two catches for 52 yards and had another touchdown pass called back due to a penalty.

Warner, who went 12-for-17 for 117 yards, led the Rams on a 70-yard scoring drive in the third quarter. Chad Levitt capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge at the 7:43 mark.

Rookie quarterback Joe Germaine played the fourth quarter for the Rams. Germaine struggled, throwing an interception and fumbling inside his 20 to set up a 14-yard touchdown run by Oakland's Marlon Barnes that made the score 17-12 with 5:37 to play.

After being intercepted by defensive end Grant Wistrom, Gannon got on track. He completed five straight passes for 56 yards to lead the Raiders on their only scoring drive, which cut the Rams' lead to 10-6.

Pat Barnes, who came over from Kansas City this offseason as a free agent, relieved Gannon and was 9-for-20 for 92 yards.

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