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Raiders Still Searching for a Win : Kelly Doesn't Play, but Bills Beat L.A., Anyway, 7-3

August 23, 1987|MARK HEISLER | Times Staff Writer

The Raiders played another exhibition to forget: Odorless, colorless and, until the 50-minute mark, scoreless.

At the halfway point of the old exhibition season, they are also winless. The Buffalo Bills held out quarterback Jim Kelly and beat them, anyway, driving 90 yards in the last 3:42 Saturday night behind a stalwart named Frank Reich.

Reich threw a five-yard touchdown pass to someone named Bob Williams with 28 seconds left, and the Bills won, 7-3.

The Raiders have a four-game regular-season losing streak, plus this season's 42-16 loss to the 49ers in the exhibition opener and this one. By now, a Raider fan might not recognize a real football game if they played it in his living room.

This being an exhibition, Raider Coach Tom Flores located several positive things. Like his team, he didn't hit double figures.

"We have to be better," Flores said. "This isn't good enough, even in preseason. We haven't won a game in a while. We've got to get that feeling."

Rusty Hilger? He was better than his opening 5 for 13. This time he was 10 for 20 with two drops but he didn't get the Raiders any points, either.

Marcus Allen fumbled away the opening drive at the Buffalo three, and tackle Bruce Davis was called for a false start at the end of the half, erasing Hilger's 24-yard scoring pass to Andy Parker.

The offensive line? It held its own, literally. Try seven holding penalties (Shelby Jordan, Bruce Wilkerson, John Gesek two each; Bruce Davis one). The offensive line coach, Sam Boghosian, lodged an unofficial protest with the official making many of the calls, umpire John Keck, telling him as they ran up the tunnel to the dressing rooms, "You were . . . "

Marc Wilson? He didn't play once again. He was seen in animated conversation with Al Davis on the practice field at Oxnard last week.

Ed Luther? He did play and he must have wondered why. After his 5 for 14 against the 49ers, he went 5 for 21 Saturday night with two interceptions--one in the end zone on first and goal from the Buffalo five.

The Raiders actually led this turkey despite making many mistakes.

The Bills planned to play Jim Kelly for at least a quarter but changed their minds, and the crowd of 40,142 booed when Reich ran onto the field.

Finally, Reich threw an interception into Stefon Adams' belly in the fourth quarter, and Adams returned it 24 yards to the Buffalo 29.

The Raiders then unleashed their scoring drive--six plays, three yards, two first downs by penalty--before Chris Bahr came in to kick a 44-yard field goal.

That lead looked like it might last a month, but Reich rallied the Bills. With 1:59 left and third and eight at the Buffalo 49, he hit Flip Johnson for 33 yards. On third and six at the 14, he hit Carl Bynum for nine yards.

On second and goal, he hit Williams over the middle for five yards and the winning, not to mention only, touchdown.

"We don't need anyone to tell us," Hilger said later. "We know we've got a long way to go.

"We had a real nice drive on the opening kickoff, but something happened. It's just a matter of mistakes. We'll be all right. I don't know how many penalties we had. It's hard enough without hurting yourself. As soon as we get the flag back in the referee's pocket and off the field, we'll be all right."

Another Raider exhibition is history. The fans were hoping for a good outing, or Jim Kelly, but all they got was the rise and fall of Frank Reich.

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