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Raiders Go Half Flat, Get Pickup From Allen in 34-24 Win at Atlanta

December 02, 1985|MARK HEISLER | Times Staff Writer

ATLANTA — The Raiders met the enemy Sunday, and it was dressed in Black and Silver. It was them, all right, for the first half, but it was only the Falcons in the second.

Form prevailed with a vengeance. The Raiders scored the first 21 points of the second half and cruised to a 34-24 victory behind Marcus Allen, who won his side-duel with Gerald Riggs, running for 156 yards to become the NFL's leading rusher.

The Raiders are now 9-4, tied with the Broncos for first place in the AFC West going into next week's showdown at Denver.

Their domination was complete in the second half. The Raiders ran 34 of the first 43 plays, holding the Falcons without a first down until midway through the fourth quarter.

They held Riggs to 20 yards in the second half, 16 of them after they had taken a 34-17 lead. In all, they held Riggs, the only man to get 100 yards against the Dallas Cowboys, the first to do it against the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins, to 95. No one has yet gotten 100 on them.

The first half was a little different. Marc Wilson was 5 for 17. Jessie Hester dropped a touchdown pass. Stacey Toran let the Atlanta tight end, Arthur Cox, who'd just punched him two plays earlier, get behind him for a 62-yard touchdown play.

The Falcons had leads of 3-0, 10-7 and 17-10. It was 17-13 at the half, after Chris Bahr kicked a late 49-yard field goal.

Of course, the Raiders had been reminding themselves all week not to let down, so that couldn't have been it, could it?

Lester Hayes: "I think we took them a smidgen lightly. Those weren't the Napa Bears out there."

Marcus Allen: "We thought we stunk out the field the first half."

Marc Wilson: "We did everything wrong the first half. We did stupid things. . . . We did some crazy things. We didn't run the right routes at times. Our protection broke down at times. That's why they have halftimes, to take a look at what you're doing.

"We changed our blocking a little bit. In third-down situations, they put all those men on the line and just dare you to throw the ball. They were hurting us with the same blitz every time, nailing us with it. They weren't getting sacks, but I'd see that safety coming with nobody on him and I had to get rid of the ball."

The game had begun amid warnings from the National Weather Service to man the rowboats. There were advisories about thundershowers, high winds and hail. A downpour a couple of hours before kickoff was enough to prompt 24,127 ticket-holders to stay home. They outnumbered the 20,585 who showed up. The Raiders hadn't played before that small a crowd since 1969, when they beat the then-Boston Patriots in a game played at Boston College.

On the first Raider play, Wilson threw an interception. On the next Falcon play, the unknown quarterback, Dave Archer, burned Hayes with a 40-yard pass to Billy Johnson. The Falcons got Mick Luckhurst close enough to kick a 39-yard field goal.

The teams then started exchanging big plays:

--Wilson threw a 37-yard scoring pass to Hester.

--Wilson threw what would have been a 33-yard scoring pass to Hester, but Hester dropped the pass in the end zone.

--Archer hit Cox on that 62-yard scoring play behind Toran. Cox sauntered into the end zone.

Bahr kicked a 35-yard field goal to tie the game at 10. The Falcons drove 80 yards, with Riggs going the last 11, to untie it. Bahr missed a 38-yard field goal, but moments later, Tom Flores let him try from 49 and he hit that one, his longest of the season by eight yards, and it was 17-13.

If you guessed that this subtle swing in momentum wasn't enough to cause rejoicing in the Raider dressing room at halftime, you've got it.

Since players spend their time with different assistant coaches, different things were said.

Wilson: "We have a pretty mature team. Tom just said, 'We've got to go out and play better than we did in the first half.' "

Howie Long: "Basically, we got our tails chewed out at halftime, by that big 300-pounder from LSU (defensive line coach Earl Leggett)."

Said an Atlanta writer, used to seeing the Falcons buckle: "This is the Mirage Bowl."

The Raiders took the second-half kickoff and tore off an 80-yard drive. Wilson beat one blitz with a 17-yard slant-in to Hester. On a third-and-seven, he beat another blitz with a sweep by Allen, who got the seven yards. On the next play, Allen bounced off linebacker John Rade, reversed his field and turned a two-yard loss into a seven-yard pickup.

Finally, with third-and-goal at the four, Wilson threw a touchdown pass to Allen. The Raiders led, 20-17.

The Falcons ran three plays and punted.

The Raiders ripped off a 40-yard drive, including a 38-yard pass from Wilson to Allen. A sack killed this drive.

The Falcons ran three plays and punted.

The Raiders went 61 yards for a touchdown. Included was a 34-yard run by Allen. Frank Hawkins went the last yard and it was 27-17.

The Falcons ran three plays and punted.

The Raiders went 50 yards in four plays, including Wilson's 43-yard pass play to Todd Christensen. Wilson ended it with a high lob to Dokie Williams, who ran around Atlanta's Bobby Butler as if Butler were the Maypole. That made it 34-17.

The Falcons then put together a last 72-yard drive for a touchdown that included their first first downs of the second half. They went on fourth down twice and made it.

The Raiders, having finally gotten what they'd come for, turned their faces toward Denver, where letdowns are not expected to be a factor.

Raider Notes

Howie Long on Marcus Allen's passing Gerald Riggs: "It's important to me. I think Marcus is a super player. I'm sure he drives a Ferrari and he has a nice condo. What the heck, he earned it." . . . Allen, on tackle Bruce Davis' suggestion that he stand his offensive line to Rolex watches: "Bruce says a lot of crazy things."

HOW IT STANDS

Team W L T Pct. GB Raiders 9 4 0 .692 - Denver 9 4 0 .692 - Seattle 7 6 0 .538 2 San Diego 6 7 0 .462 3

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