WASHINGTON — Raider mommas must have told them there'd be seasons like this, but not many of them. Other Raider seasons have started 0-2 before, too, even if the last time was 1964 when the coach was Al Davis.
That's what they are again today, 0-2 after Sunday's one-big-play, winner-take-all, 10-6 loss to the Washington Redskins. Jay Schroeder, the Redskin quarterback out of UCLA and the Toronto Blue Jay farm system, snuck tight end Clint Didier behind Stacey Toran in the fourth quarter and hit him on a 59-yard play, setting up the lone touchdown. .
The Raider offense produced no touchdowns. Their deepest penetration ended in confusion, with about half the unit lining up wrong, players trying to call time out and the quarterback throwing the ball away to escape a blitz.
Their much-counted-on long-ball game was shut down, not that they stopped trying to hit one. The wide receivers' entire output consisted of Dokie Williams' 2 catches for 20 yards. Rod Barksdale, the phenom, dropped a sure touchdown pass.
The offensive line was overrun. Redskin defenders held a convention atop Marc Wilson, who was sacked 5 times and threw 2 interceptions.
Wilson was almost forced out of the game by a shot to his right shoulder on the first Raider possession. Both his shoulder and his left hand were X-rayed after the game, with both findings negative.
"It's sore," Wilson said of his shoulder, "but . . . a lot of places are sore."
Did Al Davis say something about leadership? His leaders did what they could.
Marcus Allen got his 11th straight 100-yard rushing game, breaking his own record once more, and caught five passes.
The question is, are they going to break him? The man who never comes off the field, came off in the third period, after a seven-play stretch in which he carried the ball 4 times (for 20 yards) and caught 2 passes (for 17 yards).
After his first reception, he took a hit, slowly got to his feet, and, carrying one arm gingerly, took a long look at the bench.
On his fourth rush, he started around left end and did something he almost never does: He made the wrong cut. With running room unfolding before him, he reversed his field and wound up gaining one yard. Then he came out.
"I was a little winded," Allen said.
Was the arm hurting?
"It goes dead every now and then," he said. "No feeling."
Davis' other MVP candidate, Howie Long, was as good as a lineman can be. He had a sack, he got to Schroeder on an option and caused the fumble that kept the Redskins from breaking this game open early. He also recovered it. He led a charge that sacked Schroeder four times.
"This was the hardest week I've had from an emotional standpoint since I've been a pro," Long said. "I was down so low (after the loss in Denver), I was lower than whale stuffing, and that's low.
"I felt like I'd let the team down last week. One thing I wanted to do today was to play hard every down and hope the pieces fell together. If there's one consolation, I know I didn't leave anything out there."
Holding an NFL team to 10 points is generally good enough, but not if your offense is getting blanked. Sunday, the first Raider drive reached the Washington 10--aided by two third-down penalties--but died after a holding call on Bruce Davis. The Raiders settled for Chris Bahr's 28-yard field goal.
Tied 3-3 at the half, they got a chance to break it open--in other words, score a touchdown--when Toran intercepted Schroeder early in the third period, returning it nine yards to the Washington 18.
Six plays later, the Raiders had burned one timeout, one problem Wilson and/or his offense have had before, and stood third and four at the six.
They broke from the huddle. Barksdale, tight end Trey Junkin and tackle Bruce Davis all lined up in the wrong places. Fullback Frank Hawkins was signaling for a timeout that the officials wouldn't recognize until Wilson turned back to him and set him.
Don Mosebar snapped the ball and the play was run, ineffectually. Wilson wound up dumping the ball into an unoccupied corner of the end zone while the fans called for intentional grounding.
Bahr kicked a 23-yard field goal for a 6-3 lead, but that was the last real Raider threat.
"A couple of guys were in the wrong formation," Wilson said. "I got up to the line and changed them around. . . . Hawk was yelling to call time out, but I looked up at the clock and there were 16 seconds left. There was time to get everybody set and run the play. But their safeties blitzed right up the middle, and I had to throw the ball early."
Why would so many players line up wrong?
"It's an unusual formation," Wilson said. "We hadn't worked a lot on it."
The way things were going Sunday, the defense was either going to hold the Redskins without a touchdown, or the Raiders were going to lose.