Air Coryell got another step closer to becoming Heir Coryell. It floated into Raiderland, a sobering thought on a Monday night, and got shot to pieces, like a blimp in a dogfight.
The Raiders sacked Dan Fouts six times and did their own revamping of the revamped San Diego Charger defense. They won, 34-21, their highest point total of the season, which got them their fifth straight victory, a 6-2 record at the halfway point and ran their Monday night mark to 23-3-1.
It wasn't even as close as that. They led, 31-14, before Fouts hit Jesse Bendross with a one-yard touchdown pass in the last 2:20.
Bendross started to spike the ball, but Matt Millen swung an arm at him. Bendross then ran to another part of the end zone where there was no Millen and spiked the ball.
Nevertheless, the Chargers dropped to 3-5 with three more games in a row coming against the Raiders and Broncos. Coach Don Coryell has just received a vote of confidence from new owner Alex Spanos until at least the end of the season. Spanos has also said he expects to go "at least 8-8."
Fouts later called the Raider pass rush "the best I've ever seen."
The Raiders were glad to agree.
"Without a doubt, the Raiders are back!" announced linebacker Rod Martin. "We showed everybody! We showed our peers! We showed the nation!
"That was total domination on both sides of the ball."
Millen: "This is the best our defense has played in my six years here. If we stay on this track, this could be a great defense.
"It's attitude. Let's face it, when we came out for the start of the season, our offense was null and void. The only way to win, we had to play great defense. Now our offense is coming around."
Monday night, Marc Wilson, un-booed at the Coliseum for the first time this season, was 15 for 31 for 258 yards. Tight end Todd Christensen caught seven passes for 134 yards, including completions of 48 and 28 yards, both to the Charger five. Marcus Allen gained 111 yards in a career-high 30 attempts and scored the 50th, 51st and 52nd touchdowns of his career.
They had the Chargers on the run from the opening kick, which the Chargers got to receive. Fouts started off with a pass toward Kellen Winslow, who'd been out a year since injuring his knee against the Raiders last season. It fell incomplete.
"It was good to see Kellen back," Millen said. "I told him that after that first play. He said, 'Thank you.' I told him, 'This doesn't mean I won't be coming after you, though.' "
And on they came. With 1:17 left in the first period, the Chargers had had the ball four times, had no first downs and a total offense of minus-seven yards. Fouts had been sacked twice and intercepted once, by Mike Haynes, who leaped in front of a sideline pattern to Charlie Joiner and intercepted at the San Diego 32, leading to the first Raider score, Chris Bahr's 20-yard field goal.
The Raiders kept landing on Fouts and backing the Chargers up, forcing Ralf Mojsiejenko to get off another 35-yard punt. Then they'd field it and take it whatever distance remained.
They marched 36 yards for their first touchdown, with rookie wide receiver Jessie Hester, going the last 13 yards on a reverse.
They were ahead, 10-0, and looking for a quick knockout, but they didn't get it. Fouts punched back, beating a Mike Davis-Rod Martin blitz with a long pass down the right sideline to Gary Anderson, newly reclaimed from the USFL, who was overmatching linebacker Jeff Barnes. Anderson beat Barnes, made the catch, cut back inside Vann McElroy and completed a 52-yard touchdown play, cutting the Raider lead to 10-7.
That was as close as the Chargers were going to get. They stopped the Raiders on their next possession, but the Raiders stopped them back, bouncing on Fouts twice, first Brad Van Pelt, then Martin.
Mojsiejenko got off his monster of the night, a booming 68-yard punt that went clear over Fulton Walker's head. But the Chargers were flagged for having an ineligible man downfield and sent back to their 4, where Mojsiejenko kicked again. This one went 31 yards.
The Raiders navigated the distance in five plays. On third and eight at the 33, Wilson hit Christensen, who slipped Terry Lewis' tackle, tore away from Jeff Dale and ran to the five. From there, it took Allen two cracks, Bahr's kick making it 17-7.
The next Charger possession netted two first downs, before Bill Pickel sacked Fouts on third and 11. Mojsiejenko got off a 40-yarder, which Walker returned 19 yards to the Raider 42.
From there, it took the Raiders five more plays, with Wilson feathering one into Christensen, who'd given safety Gill Byrd a sideline move and turned it up the field. Christensen caught the ball and ran to the five. Allen needed three tries from there. The last was from the one and he took the precaution of going airborne at his three and flying three yards into the end zone before landing.