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Raiders’ Playoff Hopes Dim

November 23, 1999

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) _ The Oakland Raiders, whose hopes of making the playoffs for the first time in six seasons dimmed in Monday night’s loss at Denver, will have to play at least the next two weeks without free safety Eric Turner.

Turner, who missed the final 10 games of last season with a foot injury, reaggravated a calf injury in the second period of the 27-21 overtime loss to the Broncos.

The Raiders (5-5) were 4-2 last season before Turner was injured. They lost six of their final 10 games, when several key players were injured, and missed the playoffs.

``Eric’s absence is going to hurt us. He’s a hard guy to replace, he was last year and will be this year,″ coach Jon Gruden said Tuesday.

Gruden said Turner, who originally hurt his calf in last week’s win over San Diego and aggravated it Friday in practice, will be out 2-3 weeks.

The Raiders, who have lost their last six overtime games, were undermined by turnovers and poor special teams play in the loss at Denver.

A fumble by quarterback Rich Gannon led to the winning touchdown, and there were several problems with the kicking game _ including a badly missed 37-yard field goal by Michael Husted, a blocked punt that went for a safety and other poor punts by Leo Araguz.

``Leo can kick a lot better than that,″ Gruden said. ``Field position was a huge factor in that game. Special teams play was unsatisfactory last night.″

After losing to AFC West rival Denver, the Raiders have just six days to prepare for a game at home against another division rival, Kansas City. The Chiefs also are 5-5.

``Unless we eliminate mistakes in the kicking game and mishaps, it’s going to be tough to win on the road,″ Gruden said. ``When you lose the turnover battle, you’re going to have trouble on the road.″

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