The crucial turnover ... the controversial call ... an inflated number of penalties.
For a change, the Oakland Raiders weren't the team making the most mistakes.
With Kerry Collins completing 17 of 29 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns, including scoring passes of 26 and 44 yards to Jerry Porter, the Raiders beat the Tennessee Titans 34-25 in front of 69,149 at the Coliseum.
Since it was just the third road win (including Super Bowl XXXVII) against 18 losses for the Raiders since late 2002, they weren't about to throw it back just because it was flawed.
Oakland, 3-4, managed to blow a 17-0 lead and was up just 24-22 at halftime. After racking up 181 yards in the first quarter alone, the Raiders managed just 143 the rest of the way.
Yet, when the Titans had climbed within 27-25 on a 24-yard field goal by Rob Bironas with 7:48 to play, it was the Raiders who put the game away with Collins' 44-yard scoring pass to Porter.
"Some of the things that happened today, if they had happened earlier in the year, I'm not sure we would have handled them," Raiders coach Norv Turner said. "We handled them today." To be fair, Tennessee, 2-6, is not to be confused with either of Oakland's first two road opponents, New England and Philadelphia. Nor will the Titans resemble the next road assignment, Kansas City.
Since the Raiders
"A win is a win," Porter said. "They've been hard to come by here. We got a road win. We'll take it any way we can get it."
Considering the wild swing of momentum which occurred early in the second quarter, the Titans did well to even stay in the game.
Having cut the lead to 17-12 when Chris Brown ran through a missed tackle by free safety Stuart Schweigert for a 38-yard touchdown run, Tennessee forced a suddenly cold Collins and Co. into a three-and-out.
Shane Lechler hammered a 57-yard punt, and rookie Adam "Pacman" sliced through the middle of the Oakland coverage to the roar of the crowd for an apparent 82-yard touchdown.
Not so fast.
A personal foul nullified the touchdown.
"For a moment, we took the lead, and then we lost it," Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher said.
The referee identified Tank Williams for hitting punt-return gunner Randal Williams out of bounds, except Williams was not in the game.
As near as anyone could figure in the Tennessee locker room, the penalty was called on either Lamont Thompson or Michael Waddell.
Even Randal Williams the player who was fouled was hazy on the details.
"I had no idea," Randal Williams said. "I didn't know what they called. Cool. That happens every time you go out there. The difference this time might be that they hit me when I was already well out of bounds."
Instead of a touchdown to take the lead, Tennessee was penalized back to its own 9-yard line. One play later, Warren Sapp blindsided Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair, the fumble rolling free into the end zone.
Safety Jarrod Cooper won the race with defensive end Derrick Burgess to get to the ball. The Raiders had scored their first defensive touchdown in 20 games and led 24-12.
Fisher was still unloading on officials on the sideline as the Raiders kicked off.
"I know what the rule reads, and how it is supposed to be enforced, and until I see the play, I really can't comment on it," Fisher said. "I can only comment on the opinion of my staff upstairs, and they said it should not have been called."
Turner reasoned that the penalty on Williams could have been the reason Jones got loose in the first place.
"You'd like to think your gunner would get down there and make the returner change direction," Turner said. "If he was hit out of bounds or held out of bounds, then it should be called."
It was the biggest of nine Tennessee penalties for 79 yards, with the Raiders being flagged seven times for 55 yards.
The Raiders clearly enjoyed seeing someone else have problems with officials for a change.
"Call it lucky, call it fortunate, call it what you will," Collins said. "We have had plenty of them go against us."
"That kind of stuff usually happens to us," Schweigert said. "To have it happen to them was nice to see."
The Raiders needed every bit of the cushion the call provided, because the first half ended in disaster. Rob Bironas kicked a 39-yard field goal with 55 seconds left, and then Collins, who has avoided the big mistake this season, inexplicably threw a pass directly to Tennessee rookie Reynaldo Hill, who returned the gift 52 yards for a touchdown.
In the second half, Tennessee had a 20:33-to-9:27 advantage in time of possession, but had only three points to show for it, as McNair kept getting first downs but couldn't penetrate the end zone.
"We had the ball for a long time and didn't get points," Fisher said.
Oakland had a season-high six sacks. Sapp had 2.5, sharing one with Tommy Kelly, and others with one sack were Danny Clark, Ed Jasper and Tyler Brayton.
Brayton's sack, which forced a McNair fumble recovered by Bobby Hamilton, terminated a 14-play drive at the Oakland 35 and preceded a 32-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski for a 27-22 lead.
The general feeling in the locker room was that winning in Tennessee was a mandatory first step if there are any hopes of entering the playoff picture.
"We know that if we want to do something in this league, we have to win on the road," Hamilton said. "If we play as a group and handle our business, we can do a lot of things. We still have a long way to go."
Had a couple of early-season breaks or bad calls gone the Raiders' way, would they be considered one of the NFL's top teams right now? Send comments to Turn2@angnewspapers.com. Include first/last name and city.