KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It was wily old Jim Plunkett, almost 39 and a tattered veteran of 16 National Football League campaigns, who came on Sunday to do another of his magic tricks on the Chiefs after Marc Wilson hurt his thumb.
Plunkett took over in the middle of a third-period drive started by Wilson and rallied the Raiders to a 24-17 win over the Chiefs with an 18-yard scoring pass to Jessie Hester.
It was enough to make history student Lester Hayes, another old-timer who has been roaming defensive backfields for 10 years, wax eloquent.
"There are great passers in the NFL, and then you have individuals like Gen. Patton," Hayes said of his teammate. "Jim Plunkett is a stupendous leader. He's like Gen. Patton. He's not a nifty guy and he's not a mobile guy, but God has blessed him with the same type of intestinal fortitude Gen. Patton had."
So much for the history lesson.
There was also a lesson in intimidation played out before a sellout crowd of 74,430 at Arrowhead Stadium.
Was it Raider intensity or dirty tricks? Or, as safety Vann McElroy believes, was it something the Raiders needed to serve as a stimulant after trailing 17-0?
Whatever, the complexion of the game seemed to turn after a pair of free-for-all fights on back-to-back plays late in the second quarter.
At the time the Chiefs led, 17-7, and could have led by more. After that, the Chiefs did absolutely nothing and the Raiders came from behind to win for the second straight week and improve their record to 2-3.
McElroy, the only man on either team to get booted out of the game for his part in the brawl, seemed almost pleased with himself.
"If that's what it takes to wake us up, so be it," said the two-time pro bowl safety. "We seem to win games when something like this happens. I don't know if it gets us going, or if it gets under the other guys' skin. Whatever, I think it got us going today."
Al Davis, the Raiders' mastermind, didn't completely agree with McElroy.
"I think we'd picked up before that," he said in the locker room after the game. "We had started to attack. We were flustered at the start. We have so many young guys in there, it took us a while to get settled down.
"I don't give any credit to the fight, but if Vann says so, it's OK by me if he thinks it."
After the Raiders scored their first touchdown on a controversial sideline catch by Dokie Williams at 10:40 of the second period, the Chiefs took the kickoff on their own 15 and were driving steadily into Raider territory when the intensity erupted into fisticuffs.
First, the Raiders' Howie Long was called for unsportsmanlike conduct and a 15-yard penalty.
"I really don't know what happened," Long said. "I just turned around and there were people on the ground and I saw Sean Jones with his helmet off and someone hitting him. That's when I stepped in.
"I told the guy I hit afterwards that I thought what he did was wrong and I was just helping my teammate.
"Did it help us emotionally? I don't know. I don't really remember much (about it)."
On the next play, a nine-yard burst off tackle to the Raider 29 by the Chiefs' Jeff Smith, so many fights broke out that it was impossible to pinpoint the start.
The most glaring fight, however, involved McElroy and the Chiefs' offensive tackle, Irv Eatman.
"I saw Todd (quarterback Blackledge) getting hit after the play, so I started over to help him out when someone, I think it was 44 or 45, jumped on me," Eatman said. "From then on I was just trying to protect myself."
McElroy saw it differently.
"Look at me, I'm no hero," he said. "I'm 6 feet and don't weigh 200 and I'm picking on a guy 6-7 who weighs 300, but I saw him hitting Jeff Barnes. And when something is happening to one of our guys, we jump in and help out. That's the way this team is made."
Eatman, the former United States Football League all-star from UCLA who is in his first year in the NFL, seemed more upset with the antics of the Raiders' Matt Millen than with McElroy.
"I look up and here's this guy with a sun visor on in the middle of the field trying to run the game. He was telling the referee what to do. I told him to get back on the sidelines where he belonged or I'd put him back there."
When officials managed to separate the teams, McElroy and Eatman were given off-setting penalties and McElroy was sent to the sidelines.
Two other Chiefs, former USC All-American Brad Budde, and former L.A. Express lineman Mark Adickes, were not pleased with the Raiders' intimidating tactics.
Budde: "When your livelihood is on the line, and they're doing things that might end your career, you've got to do something to defend yourself."
Pressed to specify his charges, Budde said, "Oh, the usual Raiders' stuff. Pulling at your face mask, throwing punches, all that stuff."
Adickes accused Raider defensive end Greg Townsend of stepping on David Lutz's face while the Chiefs lineman lay on the ground.