Seeing as how the Raiders were working on eliminating mistakes, Saturday night can't be deemed a big success. They fumbled on the opening kickoff, recovered that one, and then lost their next five.
They fumbled at the Miami goal line and they fumbled to end potential game-winning drives. They finally ran out of time at the Miami 28 with rookie Rusty Hilger trying one more comeback and lost, 23-17, to the Dolphin junior varsity before 45,733 at the Coliseum, thus finishing 0-3 in the home phase of their glamour exhibition schedule.
The Dolphins were not exactly Dan Marino-less, however. Their holdout quarterback watched from the stands. Earlier Saturday, he and his agent, Marvin Demoff, met with Dolphin owner Joe Robbie. Robbie said Marino's side tried to reopen negotiations but that he refused. Robbie has said he won't resume negotiations until Marino returns to camp.
In Raider tradition, bad exhibition seasons are harbingers of nothing. But the game they played Saturday night wasn't pretty, and Raider Coach Tom Flores wasn't pleased.
"I really felt we were going to play a good football game," Flores said. "A lot better than we did. We're just not there yet.
"It's just very discouraging, the way we played. I'm upset about it. I'm not discouraged. I still think we have a good football team. We've just got to get it done. We just have to do it. That's all there is to it."
The Raiders have also had hefty minus totals in giveaway-takeaway for the last two seasons, which includes their most recent Super Bowl championship. This suggests they have a problem holding on to the football, period, exhibition season or the real one.
Flores: "I hope not."
The tone was set early. Cle Montgomery fumbled on the opening kickoff, but teammate Jeff Barnes recovered that one.
Then Malcolm Barnwell fumbled on the third play from scrimmage. Robert Sowell recovered that one and he isn't a Raider.
That was at the Raider 44. Marino's ex-backup, Don Strock, marched the Dolphins to the 11, where the Raider defense threw them back on third-and-one, forcing Fuad Reveiz to try a 30-yard field goal. Which he hit.
Jim Plunkett marched the Raiders from their 27 to the Miami 6. On third-and-goal, he hit Jessie Hester, who was in the end zone, in the right shoulder pad. Hester couldn't hold the pass.
Second quarter: Rookie fullback Dan Reeder fumbled at the Raider 18. Miami recovered. Ron Davenport ran 18 yards around right end on the next play. 10-0. Kenny King fumbled at the Raider 44. Sanders Shiver, another Dolphin, recovered and returned the ball 21 yards to the Raider 23. Six plays later, Reveiz kicked a 25-yard field goal. 13-3.
Second half, or the Jamie Kimmel show:
On the first play from scrimmage, Strock, entering into the spirit of the night, drilled Kimmel, a Raider inside linebacker at the Miami 27. Kimmel ran it right back 27 yards the other way, and it was 13-10.
"He threw it right to me," Kimmel said. "So . . . "
Kimmel was the Raiders' No. 4 draft pick. The coaches had been saying he was doing well, but he'd also been eclipsed by Reggie McKenzie, the No. 10 pick, who is starting at inside linebacker.
Kimmel got back into the picture Saturday. Besides his interception touchdown, he tipped another pass up into the air for Stacey Toran to intercept, and broke up two other passes. He also made five tackles, second high on the team.
With the Dolphins still leading, 13-10, Marc Wilson drove the Raiders from their 41 to the Dolphin two. Included in the drive were runs of seven and 17 yards by King.
King then fumbled the ball away at the Miami one.
Late in the third period, Strock hit Frank Lockett on a 32-yard touchdown play, and it was 20-10. Ted Watts had Lockett covered coming down the sideline, but the ball was underthrown, and Lockett beat Watts back for it. Lockett made a leaping catch at the Raider seven.
The fourth quarter started, and so did Hilger. Hilger's first possession went nowhere, but guess who got him the ball back? Kimmel batted Strock's pass into the air, and Toran intercepted and returned it 19 yards to the Dolphin 13. Four plays later, Reeder ran the last yard for 20-17.
Ready for one last fumble? Gordon Jones made this one. He's an ex-Pitt, ex-Tampa Bay, ex-Ram wide receiver, now a longshot to make this team despite an impressive camp. The play before, he'd just made an amazing move after a catch. On this one, he made a leaping catch for a first down, was twisting to get more yards and was stripped by Miami's Paul Lankford.
The Dolphins recovered at the Raider 46, got off another of those 34-yard drives, and Reveiz knocked in another 29-yarder, making it 23-17 with 1:57 left.
So Hilger got to quarterback another of those whirlwind finishes. He hit five passes in six attempts to get to the Dolphin 28 with :19 left.
From there, he threw four blanks, though.
On the second, Jones was bumped late in his route by the Dolphins' Lankford, but there was no call. The Raider bench yelled at the officials, and the crowd chanted something impolite.