Emerging powers collided Sunday, the resurgent young Buffalo Bills and the back-from death's-door Raiders. It was like one of those encounters they used to have in the Roadrunner cartoons where Wile E. Coyote gets flattened by a bulldozer into the thickness of a pancake and has to be peeled off the road.
Meet your new Raiders, bulldozers in silver and black once more.
The Bills monitored every move that Bo Jackson made but got nailed between the horns by everyone else. Marc Wilson passed for 337 yards and the Raiders ran up their second 500-yard game in a row, squashing the youngsters, 34-21, before a little late-season gathering of 43,143 in the Coliseum.
This is what has risen from the ashes of the Raider squad that scored a total of one first-half touchdown in its first six games.
What has made the difference?
See if you can guess.
"I would say Bo Jackson has a lot to do with it," Dokie Williams said. "I think what we needed was just a spark. Bo came in here and started a fire."
Said Todd Christensen:
"He comes on the field and after last week, they have to make allocations for him. 'Are they gonna run him on draw plays? Is he going to go outside? Is he going to go inside? He can catch the ball! Oh my gosh, what are we going to do now?'
"The guy is something special. I mean, what can you say? I still don't like his haircut but he's something special."
The Bills, who had shut out the Dolphins last week, and held every opponent to 126 yards rushing or fewer since Cornelius Bennett arrived, held Jackson to 78 in 19 carries, a 4.1 average that represents his worst day in pro football and drops his career average all the way to 7.1.
And the Raiders got 144 yards on the ground.
And Bo caught four passes for 59 yards and a touchdown.
And Marcus Allen ran for 47 yards, caught five passes for 58, blocked admirably, scored once, and threw a 23-yard pass of his own to Jackson.
And James Lofton had his second 100-yard receiving game of the season.
And, in what may become the most significant development, Wilson passed for 300 yards for the first time since October. In his last two games, he has completed 64% of his passes for 496 yards, 5 touchdowns and hasn't thrown an interception.
The Raiders, still thought to be mulling over next season's quarterback, had been thought finished with Wilson, the second his guaranteed $1 million-a-season contract runs out, which is in three weeks, barring a playoff miracle.
Now, who knows?
The day began, heavy with expectation. The ticket-buying public may have been giving this one a pass but people were watching and wondering.
"Do you realize," asked a deejay on KRTH-FM Sunday morning, "that no back in the NFL has ever rushed for 200 yards in back-to-back games?"
Right. And no back has ever ridden a white horse to midfield and ascended directly to heaven in the middle of the halftime show, either, and none is likely to. But that is how it goes in Bunyan-esque life of the Raider/Royal prodigy.
Of course, Jackson did tear off 11 yards around right end on his first carry.
But after that, the turf came more grudgingly. The Bills stayed at home on that little reverse the Raiders had sprung on the Broncos and the Seahawks, and when Bo would head for the corner on sweeps, so would all Buffalo hands.
"They're a good, hard-hitting defense," Jackson said. "They've been looking at the films."
So the Raiders marched right through this good, hard-hitting young defense: 80 yards on their first possession to score on Wilson's 14-yard pass to Jackson; 57 on their second for Chris Bahr's 22-yard field goal.
At this point, Jim Kelly stepped in. Merely good in the first quarter, he dialed it up to a lot better in the second, driving the Bills 74 yards for 1 touchdown, and 80 (in four plays, starting with a 35-yard pass to Chris Burkett behind left cornerback Ron Fellows, and a 37-yarder to Andre Reed behind right corner Sam Seale) for another touchdown and a 14-13 halftime lead.
A shoot out loomed, all the way up until the first two times the Raiders touched the ball in the third period, after which it was 27-14.
The first drive went 75 yards in three plays: Wilson hits Lofton for 18; Bo runs for 16; Wilson hits Lofton for 41 and the touchdown
The second was a 77-yard, 13-play cruncher, with Wilson picking up a 3rd-and-16 with a 23-yard pass to Todd Christensen, and Allen diving in from the two.
Whereupon, Kelly took the Bills 80 yards-- in four plays --in the other direction:
--A 38-yard pass to Reed.
--A 9-yard pass to Burkett.
--A 25-yard pass to tight end Pete Metzelaars.
--A handoff to Ronnie Harmon, who ran the last eight yards, making it 27-21.
So the Raider defense had to hold Kelly off for his next three possessions. The closest the Bills got was to the Raider 36 early in the fourth quarter, where they chose to go on fourth-and-two, but dime back James Davis batted down Kelly's pass for wide receiver Walter Broughton.