Craig on the Raiders’ comeback win

September 29, 2003

The Oakland Raiders staged a stunning comeback yesterday, scoring two touchdowns in the final six minutes and winning in overtime. Here’s Craig Lancaster’s story. And now, for the excerpts:

With 5:59 left in the fourth quarter Sunday, the Raiders were staring down the barrel of yet another loss.

Jerry Rice stared down his teammates and saw something else.

“There were no heads down on the sideline,” the wide receiver said, recalling the scene after a touchdown by San Diego Chargers fullback Lorenzo Neal put the Raiders in a 14-point hole.

“There was life in their eyes.”

Again Craig shows a knack for matching the storytelling quote and anecdote. On the field, Jerry Rice noticed something clearly going unnoticed by fans, sports reporters and TV announcers. Here’s a nice use of verbs, later in the story:

The Chargers running back ripped holes through the Raiders’ defense for much of the game, accumulating 187 yards in 28 carries.

Note that after using using the strong “ripped” early in the sentence, he eases off the accelerator and has the guy merely “accumulating” total yardage. A deft touch — most writers would’ve overdone it with the guy “piling up” or “scratching out” those yards.

One nit: Craig waits till the third-from-last graf to tell us the Chargers fell to 0-4 with the loss, raising the question of how much hope Raiders fans can glean from two wins against terrible teams. Near the top he has this graf:

Suddenly, improbably, the Raiders are 2-2, despite being outplayed for most of all of their games. Suddenly, improbably, the Raiders see promise instead of misery.

That might be the place to work in the part about the oh-and-four Chargers. This is where it gets tricky, though, because the pacing of the paragraph works well as it is.

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