How great was John Elway?
"I've watched him play since he was at Stanford and this was his best," Lester Hayes said Monday of the Bronco quarterback who had laid waste the Raider defense in the 38-36 saga of the day before.
"You have a guy covered man to man and he still throws it in there. And that causes a little fear. He'll still take a chance on his arm. There's nothing you can do about that.
"It's asinine when the passer beats you by himself because (Steve) Watson and those other guys had a tough time getting open. But that didn't bother Roger Clemens Elway. Before the game, I made the statement that he'd be throwing a 90-m.p.h. slider. I think I was off a few m.p.h. With that altitude, he was up to 100."
Making Elway's day even more impressive was that he spent much of it high-tailing it from the Raider rush.
The Raiders caught him only twice, including the safety on which Howie Long burst up the middle and Greg Townsend pursued Elway over the end line.
On several others, Elway dodged them, as in the opening drive, when he bolted forward and then scorched a 35-yard pass to Watson in the end zone behind Mike Haynes.
Or he just outran everyone, as in the last drive of the first half, also remembered in Raiderland as the Clarence Kay drive. The Broncos would never have gotten to Stacey Toran's disputed interference on Kay, except that on third and 10 at the Denver 32, Elway, running for his life from Townsend, winged one side-arm, across his body and across the field to Vance Johnson, for a 16-yard gain.
At the end of the game, Elway got the ball at his 10 with 3:24 left and kept it out of Raider hands until only 42 seconds remained.
On second and 11 at the nine, he threw to Mark Jackson on an out pattern for a first down at the 21. On third and nine at the 22, he threw to Watson on an up pattern just behind Hayes for 36. After that, the Raiders needed a miracle more than a big play.
"He's tough because he's strong," Townsend said. "He doesn't go down on the first hit, or one slap at his legs.
"I remember one play where I hit him twice in the arm and he didn't let loose of the ball. I guess he's matured like everybody says he has. A new John Elway. We just have to know how to approach him now."
How great was Marcus Allen?
His final, revised-three-hours-after-the-game rushing total, was 102 yards, up from the preliminary estimate of 98. That broke the record he shared with Walter Payton, nine straight games in which he had gained at least 100 yards.
He also had 102 yards receiving, becoming the first Raider ever to achieve that double triple.
Allen learned that he had broken the record after the Raiders got home, on the late news.
"At that point, I wasn't really concerned because we didn't win," he said Monday. "Like I said, I would have been happy to be in the company of Walter. I can't think about this. I have to just continue to play. If these things come, fine."
The Broncos, whose defense is their traditional strong point, thus represent victims No. 4, 6 and 10 in the streak.
How impressed were they? Mark Jackson, the rookie Bronco receiver who went in after Johnson was hurt, said that he had asked teammates what he should do after the game, shake hands with the Raiders? Jackson said he was told that the Raiders would only shake if they won, so forget it.
But when Allen came off the field, several Broncos and one assistant coach congratulated him.
An afterword on the disputed calls: The Raiders thought the films showed that the call on Toran was bad, that whatever contact there was was incidental and that the ball was uncatchable.
That play was not one of the three reviewed Sunday on the new instant-replay system, as had been reported.
Tom Flores said that Dokie Williams' fumble at the Denver 16 in the closing minutes looked like a fumble. He said that Ken Woodard's tear-away on Allen looked close on film.
"Those things are just devastating," said Flores of the Raider turnovers, those two plus Napoleon McCallum's kickoff fumble. "I don't know, you just have to put it behind you and go on.
"Losing a game like that is a tough thing to swallow. It's a tough thing to live with.
"It's only the first game. You can say it's the first game, but it was a division game. It was very disappointing, but we'll survive. We've got to bounce back."
Raider Notes Lester Hayes, on hearing that Vance Johnson had complained about his tactics: "Me?" . . . Johnson underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair minor torn ligaments in his right knee Monday and will be out of action at least four weeks. He was hurt on successive plays, on tackles by Mike Haynes and Sam Seale. . . . Tom Flores on punter Ray Guy, who struggled in the exhibition season and had a long punt of 42 yards Sunday: "Ray did not have a real good preseason, but he'll come around. Sometimes when he's had injuries, he's had a few problems, but he's OK. I'm not concerned about it."