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Janikowski gives Raiders a leg up

By Arnie Stapleton
Associated Press / September 14, 2011

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DENVER - Sebastian Janikowski figures his celebration over his long field goal will be short-lived.

After all, Matt Prater kicks at this altitude eight times a year to Janikowki’s one.

“He’s the only guy I’ve got to worry about if he’s going to break the record,’’ Janikowski said after his record-tying 63-yarder helped the Oakland Raiders beat the Denver Broncos, 23-20, Monday night.

Janikowski said he dreamt of just such a historic field goal Saturday night and nailed a kick from 70 yards during warm-ups.

His 63-yard kick tumbled above the crossbar near the left upright as the first half expired, giving Oakland a 16-3 lead.

“To be honest, I didn’t hit it that good,’’ said Janikowski, ever the perfectionist. “It barely got over the bar.’’

Janikowski also was true from 37 and 21 yards. Prater made a 28- and a 30-yarder but was wide right on a 56-yard attempt in the first half, just his fourth miss from 50-plus yards in 13 career tries.

That was the difference in a foul- and fist-filled night between the AFC West archrivals.

The Raiders (1-0) won in Denver for the fourth straight season in coach Hue Jackson’s NFL head coaching debut, and handed the Broncos (0-1) their first loss in a home opener since 2000. John Fox lost his debut as Denver’s coach, and he lost at least two playmakers in the process.

Pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil was relegated to situational duty for three quarters after irritating a left shoulder injury that he originally sustained during practice last week. And perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey injured his left hamstring making a touchdown-saving tackle of Darren McFadden, who ran 22 times for 150 yards.

The Raiders, who ran for 190 yards, salted away the win by controlling the clock and were able to line up in victory formation after Michael Bush’s 12-yard run to midfield for the first down at the 2-minute warning.

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