McGahee carries Baltimore past Oakland, 21-13
• Photo gallery: NFL Football - Week 17
By Josh Dubow
OAKLAND, Calif. — With one vicious stiff-arm, Willis McGahee pushed aside the last obstacle standing between the Baltimore Ravens and another playoff bid on his way to a career-best day.
McGahee ran for a career-high 167 yards and three touchdowns, pushing down Hiram Eugene on a 77-yarder, and the Ravens clinched an AFC wild-card berth by beating the Oakland Raiders, 21-13, yesterday.
"We're in the same position as last year where we had to win the last couple of games," McGahee said. "Once we get in there, we know we can do damage, and now we're in there."
The Ravens (9-7) went into the regular-season finale knowing a win would put them in the playoffs and a loss would send them home for an early winter. Just like last season when they beat Jacksonville in the final game to make the postseason, the Ravens came through against the Raiders.
Baltimore will open the playoffs at New England on Sunday.
"In my 14 years, I've never had a pretty road to the playoffs," Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said. "It's always been a grind, but there's no better thing than having that grind and getting to advance."
The Raiders (5-11) provided a stiff challenge for much of the game but were unable to pull it out in the end behind former starter JaMarcus Russell.
Dannell Ellerbe intercepted a pass from Russell late in the third quarter to set up McGahee's third touchdown that made it 21-13. Ellerbe then recovered a fumble by Russell at the Ravens 23 with 9:42 to go to end a possible scoring threat by Oakland.
After a three-and-out for the Raiders, McGahee iced the game with a 36-yard run on third-and-4 from his 15 to cap his first 100-yard rushing game of the season.
"Willis took over the game the way he ran," Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. "I think our offensive line deserves a lot of credit. Obviously there were holes, but this guy was running north and south."
The loss gave the Raiders seven straight seasons with at least 11 defeats, the worst run in NFL history. It also could mark the end of coach Tom Cable's stint in Oakland as his job status will likely be decided in the next few days.
"I'm disappointed because we didn't win," Cable said. "I thought we were going to. And yet I feel excited about what's coming back. But there's got to be some things added and tweaked and fixed."
BALTIMORE 7 7 0 7—21
OAKLAND 0 10 3 0—13
Bal—McGahee 2 run (Cundiff kick), 3:47.
Oak—FG Janikowski 37, 14:49.
Bal—McGahee 77 run (Cundiff kick), 3:54.
Oak—Z.Miller 12 pass from Frye (Janikowski kick), :47.
Oak—FG Janikowski 39, 4:06.
Bal—McGahee 2 run (Cundiff kick), 13:16.
First downs 16 20
Total Net Yards 330 325
Rushes-yards 35-240 20-51
Passing 90 274
Punt Returns 2-33 2-7
Kickoff Returns 4-138 3-46
Interceptions Ret. 1-28 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 11-19-0 27-39-1
Sacked-Yards Lost 4-12 3-8
Punts 5-42.4 5-52.4
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 5-37 5-30
Time of Possession 27:46 32:14
RUSHING—Baltimore, McGahee 16-167, Rice 14-70, L.McClain 1-5, Flacco 4-(minus 2). Oakland, Bush 10-18, Murphy 2-17, McFadden 5-9, J.Russell 2-5, Frye 1-2.
PASSING—Baltimore, Flacco 11-19-0-102. Oakland, Frye 18-25-0-180, J.Russell 9-14-1-102.
RECEIVING—Baltimore, Rice 4-19, Heap 2-40, K.Washington 2-7, Mason 1-23, Clayton 1-7, L.McClain 1-6. Oakland, Schilens 8-99, Z.Miller 7-38, Murphy 6-59, Higgins 4-71, Reece 1-11, Bush 1-4.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Baltimore, Cundiff 37 (WR), 51.