GREEN BAY, Wis. — Everyone who has Game 2 in the when-does-Marc-Wilson-make-his- first-start pool is still alive. The Rusty Hilger experiment lasted one half of Sunday's opener, with the kid looking bewildered and getting hurt, besides, after which it was guess who to the rescue?
Wilson worked a competent second half, and the Raiders, who led, 7-0, when Hilger left, won, 20-0, over a sad group of Green Bay Packers who were too inoffensive to count as a test of anything.
The Raiders got a victory out of it, and a chance to play with their lineup, which is all you can ask of a league game.
Wilson was 9 for 16 for 97 yards, which doesn't qualify as one of his 20 biggest halves but he did seem to recognize what was going on around him, compared to Hilger--who still looks as lost as Little Red Riding Hood.
In his half, Rusty was 2 for 7, and the passing game netted 6 yards. If Hilger's performance was hampered by his jammed shoulder, it also didn't look very different from his work in the exhibitions.
How happy were Wilson's teammates to see him back? They voted him the game ball. Players who hadn't been asked anything about him went out of their way to praise him.
"Put yourself in Marc's position," Vann McElroy said. "He's been through the things he's been through, that people put him through, that the media put him through, and basically, the players.
"Sometimes you're pretty tough on a guy when you don't mean to be. Sometimes some things come out that shouldn't come out.
"It takes a lot of guts for a guy to come in and do what he did today."
So who starts next week's home opener against the Detroit Lions?
"I don't know right now," Coach Tom Flores said, "because we'll have to see how Rusty is. He jammed his shoulder, which was why he came out of the game."
Flores added that if Hilger is healthy, he'll remain No. 1, but begged off further elaboration.
"The game's just over," he said. "Let me enjoy it. We'll have a lot of time on the flight back to think about these things."
There is also the matter of finding out just what's wrong with Hilger. He bounced off John Clay while trying to scramble on the second Raider possession and fell on his shoulder. He is concerned it may be more than the diagnosed bruise.
"I don't know what's wrong with it," Hilger said. "There's a lot of pain inside the muscle. It's not allowing me to raise my arm. . . Whether the ligament was pulled away from the bone, or it's a rotator cuff or just a severe bruise, I don't know."
But if you think that Hilger's trademark enthusiasm is just reserved for his own big days, guess again.
"I'm very pleased the way Marc played the second half today," he said with feeling. "That's what we need from the quarterback position on this team: If one guy has a problem, the other guy should be able to come in and get the job done.
"I've always liked Marc Wilson. I've always liked his ability as a quarterback. It goes to show you, he's a class player, a class individual. Maybe being a starting quarterback put a little added pressure on him, but as a backup, the kid is great."
"Well, he's a kid to you guys," Hilger said to reporters.
And if Marc the Kid is No. 1 again?
"Gee, so be it," Hilger said. "Maybe one day he starts and gets hurt, and I come in and play well. We're playing together. I'm not looking to him as a problem, and he's not looking to me as a problem."
The game started predictably, if not artistically. The Raiders did try to hammer it out with Marcus Allen, who started slowly and warmed up in the second period as the new offensive line began to find itself.
Allen had 19 carries and 97 yards by halftime and finished with 33 for 136, his first time with more than 100 yards since the New York Giants stopped his streak and put the big hurt on his right ankle in last season's third game.
However, in the absence of anything else on offense--besides Allen's 97 yards, the Raiders had another 25 rushing and 6 passing at halftime--the game labored midway into the second quarter as a 0-0 tie. Then the Raiders put together a 51-yard drive without throwing a pass. Allen had runs of 13 and 17 yards to start it, and a 1-yard dive over the top to finish it, and the Raiders led, 7-0.
It stayed that way until midway through the third period when Randy Wright, the Packer version of a quarterback, under pressure from Rod Martin, delivered a pass that missed tight end Ed West crossing over the middle and hit McElroy, coming up to make the tackle. McElroy gathered the ball in without breaking stride and ran 35 yards down the left sideline for his first pro touchdown.
"Turned on the burst," said McElroy, who'd like to have one to turn on, "and outran the quarterback."