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Plunkett (Out Six Weeks) and Raiders Take Beating

September 23, 1985|MARK HEISLER | Times Staff Writer

They got trouble, right here in Raider silver-and-black, with a capital O and that stands for the offense that disappeared a year ago.

Also a capital QB. One of those, Jim Plunkett, went down with a dislocated shoulder and was lost for six weeks.

Also a capital OL, which stands for an offensive line that has yet to solve its problems, as the Raiders' 83 yards rushing and the San Francisco 49ers' nine quarterback sacks suggest.

Also a capital TO, as in teed off. Howie Long confronted 49er offensive line coach Bobb McKittrick in the tunnel to the dressing rooms afterward and, in an angry scene, accused him of teaching leg-whipping. Two 49ers and an official stepped between them.

And there is probably some way to involve the rest of the alphabet as well after a Sunday afternoon on which the Raiders went out to show what kind of a team they were, before a sellout crowd of 87,006 in their Coliseum, and lost, 34-10, to the 49ers.

For the second game in a row, the Raiders set their Los Angeles record for worst loss, this time on the heels of their 36-20 defeat at Kansas City on Sept. 12.

For the first time since they moved here, they have a losing record, 1-2.

Not for the first time, members of the defense suggested that they'd be in better shape if the offense were more of a factor, even if the cries were muted compared to those following last season's playoff loss at Seattle.

Lyle Alzado said: "When your offense is struggling, of course it's frustrating to your defense. We have a lot of weapons on offense. It's up to our principals to utilize those things. I'm certainly no offensive coach, so what those things are, I don't know. At the same time, we're not winning right now. We have to adjust something to make it work. Even if it is early in the year, we're 1-2 in the Western Division, and playing catchup is hard to do."

Defensive end Greg Townsend said: "We know they're not out there trying to do what they're doing. We know they're not trying makes mistakes.

"Am I concerned? I won't know about that until tomorrow morning. I've got to see what Tom is saying, first."

Coach Tom Flores was taking a soft approach. "We're a good football team but we just didn't put things together today," he said.

But even among the Raiders of the Lost Offense, there is a recognition that something is wrong, and that the something is them.

Tight end Todd Christensen, talking about the offense, said: "This game turns around fast. Two years ago, we had the same group of people we have now. Two years later, we're more mature, we should be more effective, but it's not working. We have to look at ourselves, whether it's execution, or predictability, I don't know. . . . In the past, the Raiders have been a big-play team. When you're a big-play team, maybe there's a tendency to hope Todd comes up with a big catch, or Marcus (Allen) comes up with a big run, instead of getting the three yards here and the five yards there."

The Raiders did seem to be trying that Sunday. It even worked for a while.

The problem was, they got precious few points from it.

The 49ers hit them for a quick touchdown on their first possession, standard Joe Montana magic. On the third play of the drive, Montana looked downfield, saw his receivers covered, saw linebacker Jeff Barnes blitzing, staying carefully in his rushing lane, just as Barnes had been warned to do. In his lane or not, Montana gave Barnes a little twinkletoe move, danced around him and gained 12 yards. Hello, goodby, thanks for coming.

On the next play, Montana hit halfback Roger Craig neatly between the inside linebackers, Matt Millen and Reggie McKenzie. Craig finished the 20-yard scoring play untouched.

For the rest of the first half, the Raiders ran more plays (34-24) and gained more yardage (205-172). Plunkett was 14 for 21 at the half

Nevertheless, there was more continuity than there were touchdowns. Jim Smith dropped a pass in the end zone as Eric Wright was hitting him. Plunkett threw an interception. Chris Bahr missed a 42-yard field-goal try. The 49ers had two sacks by halftime.

The Raider defense hung on for dear life, as usual. Montana kept marching the 49ers up the field, and the Raiders kept dragging them down, thusly:

--At the Raider four, after which Ray Wersching kicked a field goal.

--At the Raider 11, after Montana ran away from more pressure, hit Jerry Rice in the end zone, saw Rice drop the pass, then saw Townsend block Wersching's field goal try.

--At the Raider nine, after which Wersching kicked another field goal, with :01 left in the first half, to make it 13-3.

So the Raider defense can still boast a total of one touchdown given up in three first halves. Second halves have been harder.

Midway through the third period, Montana marched the 49ers another 80 yards. With third-and-16 at his own 14, he hit Dwight Clark for 20. With third-and-three at the Raider 14, he hit Clark again for 14. Wersching's kick made it 20-3.

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