Oakland rookie well-versed in Raiders-Chiefs rivalry

Updated: September 15, 2005, 8:04 PM ET
Associated Press

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Kirk Morrison spent his teen years growing up in Oakland, rooting for the Raiders and against the Kansas City Chiefs. Now that he's in the NFL, the rookie linebacker gets to experience the rivalry first-hand.

Morrison, a third-round pick in last April's draft, leads an Oakland defense that faces its second stiff test in as many weeks when the Raiders host the Chiefs on Sunday night. Kansas City, which has won four straight and five of the last six against Oakland, was the only AFC West team to win its season opener last week.

The Raiders, who lost to two-time defending Super Bowl champion New England in the NFL opener last Thursday, are looking for just their second win since last November.

For Morrison, there's no better opponent for such a task than the Chiefs, a team he grew up despising.

So while second-year Oakland coach Norv Turner tries to talk to his players about the significance of the rivalry, Morrison has lived it.

"In Oakland ... the games you always really wanted to come see were the Niners and the Chiefs. You grew up hating red," Morrison said. "It goes deep. It's not just the teams. It's the organizations, you know, which organization is better? These are two teams that played in the old AFL against each other. Most of the history goes back to it. They've been AFC West rivals for a very, very long time. It's always been the must-win game."

The Raiders are approaching Sunday night's game that way. A loss would leave Oakland two games out of the AFC lead, with a road trip to Philadelphia up next. A win would put the Raiders in a tie for first and feeling a lot better about themselves.

Oakland hasn't defeated Kansas City since 2002, continuing a trend that has seen the Chiefs dominate the series for the last 15 years. The Raiders won five straight games from 1999-2001 but are just 8-22 against their division foes since 1989.

Morrison, who turned 23 last February, has seen most of those losses. If he wasn't watching the games on television, he was at the Oakland Coliseum sitting in the stands.

On Sunday night, Morrison will be on the field. He didn't start against New England but came off the bench to record a game-high 10 tackles while playing most of the second half when the Raiders stayed in their dime defense to slow down Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Morrison isn't going to start against Kansas City, but he will play as much as he did against the opener. Oakland, which held New England running back Corey Dillon to 63 yards on 23 carries, gets another test Sunday with the Chiefs' tandem of Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson.

The Kansas City duo rushed for 195 yards in a 27-7 win over the New York Jets last Sunday and will be the anchor to the Chiefs' offense this week.

"We're going to have our hands full, I know that," Morrison said. "Our defense, we love to stop the run. This week is another test for us. Above all the rivalry and what this game means, you only get two shots at these guys and you don't want to go .500. You want to win both of them."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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