At the time, Jeff George felt only the pain of being body-slammed into the ground. By the end of the game, he felt thankful for being hit that hard.
George had four touchdown passes for the Oakland Raiders in a 35-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. But the play that turned the game around was a poorly thrown pass while he was being knocked down.
Oakland was trailing, 14-0, and getting booed by its fans midway through the second quarter when George's ill-advised pass was intercepted by Keith Lyle at the St. Louis 10. But Ram defensive tackle Jeff Zgonina, who pounded George after he threw the pass, was called for roughing the passer.
George scrambled for 11 yards on the next play and threw a scoring pass to James Jett two plays after that. That began a 28-point run by the Raiders, who dominated the rest of the game.
"It probably rattled some cobwebs. It woke me up," said George, who slowly got to his feet with a woozy look that scared his teammates. "It was a late hit, but looking back now I'm glad he did it."
George had scoring passes of 14 and eight yards to Jett, and 34 and five yards to Rickey Dudley. Napoleon Kaufman, who ran for 162 yards in 26 carries, added a one-yard scoring dive for the Raiders (2-3). Eric Turner had two of Oakland's three interceptions of Tony Banks.
Banks had touchdown passes of 13 yards to Amp Lee and three yards to Aaron Laing, and Jeff Wilkins added a 38-yard field goal for the Rams (2-3).
George, who entered the game second in the NFL in passing yardage, went 17 of 30 for 219 yards and was intercepted once.
It was the first meeting of the Rams and Raiders since the teams left Southern California after the 1994 season.