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It's a Mad, Mad Whirl for the Raiders : Pro football: Shell benches Hostetler briefly after argument on sideline over quarterback changing plays during 20-17 overtime loss to Miami.

October 17, 1994|STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

MIAMI — Quarterback Jeff Hostetler was mad. Mad about the mounting losses. Mad about his errant tosses. Mad about the holding calls. Mad about the dropped balls. Mad about all the sacks. Mad about the opposition's relentless attacks.

And finally, it all boiled over in an ugly, loud, face-to-face confrontation with his head coach in full view of a crowd of 69,380 at Joe Robbie Stadium for Sunday's Raider-Miami Dolphin game and a national television audience.

At issue, sources said, was Hostetler's inclination to change the play selection of Coach Art Shell and his staff. Hostetler engaged in an animated shouting match with Shell near the end of the first half after the quarterback had appeared to yell at offensive tackle Bruce Wilkerson. The result was Hostetler's removal from the game, an unusual action for Shell to take with his team in the lead and the game on the line.

Hostetler came back for the second half, but, unfortunately for the Raiders, so did the Dolphins, overcoming 10-0 first-quarter and 10-7 halftime deficits to pull out a 20-17 victory in overtime. The keys for the Dolphins (5-2) were Bernie Parmalee's 150 yards rushing and Dan Marino's two touchdown passes.

The loss, which drops the Raiders to 2-4, was personified by Hostetler, whose outburst of temper came on an afternoon when he completed only eight of 23 passes for 95 yards, was sacked three times and was pummeled by onrushing linemen all afternoon.

Asked about the benching of Hostetler for the final two series of the half, Shell would only say, "Coach's decision."

Hostetler warned reporters before he started talking that he wasn't going to address the incident.

"You'll have to ask (Shell) about that," Hostetler said. "That's about all I have to say about it. I'm doing the best I can. And I thank the Lord for my ability."

He wouldn't talk about the confrontation, but he had no problem talking about the frustration that caused it.

"Every time we turned around," Hostetler said, "what did we have, five or six pass plays called back? We had big gains called back. We were constantly first and 20 and first and 30. That gets frustrating for everybody."

When asked if he expected to start next week, Hostetler angrily replied, "Game over."

End of interview.

Despite all of Hostetler's problems, the Raiders led, 10-7, when he was pulled.

They had taken that lead on a 19-yard field goal by Jeff Jaeger and yet another defensive touchdown. Cornerback Terry McDaniel tackled running back Mark Higgs hard enough in the first quarter to force the ball loose from the Dolphin back.

Defensive end Anthony Smith picked it up on two bounces and went 25 yards into the end zone untouched.

"It's something to tell the kids about," Smith said of his first regular-season touchdown.

It's nothing new for the Raiders, however, who have now scored a defensive touchdown in five consecutive games, three of those by McDaniel.

After a 15-yard touchdown pass from Marino to Keith Jackson late in the second quarter, Hostetler suffered through a series of plays that summed up the afternoon, and many of the long Sunday afternoons he has endured this season.

It went this way:

--On first down, Ty Montgomery was called for illegal motion.

--On first down again, James Jett dropped a pass.

--On second down, Jett dropped another pass, allowing Miami to decline a holding penalty against Gerald Perry.

--On third down, Hostetler was forced to throw the ball away under heavy pressure from linebacker Bryan Cox.

When the fuming Hostetler reached the sideline, Shell stepped in, pointing to himself as if to say he would do the disciplining and he would call the plays.

With Vince Evans taking over at quarterback, Hostetler engaged in a heated conversation with assistant coach Mike White, then walked along the bench, exhorting the defense to hang in there as if he were leaving.

Hostetler, helmet in hand, made it to the 40-yard line before teammates Chester McGlockton and Eddie Anderson put their arms around Hostetler and calmed him down. Assistant coach Arthur Whittington joined in.

"We'll be all right," Anderson told Hostetler. "You are our leader. I understand."

By that point, Hostetler had dropped his helmet, put on his baseball cap and moved back to the center of the sidelines behind Shell. Hostetler didn't join the sideline discussion with Evans during the timeouts--the normal role of a backup quarterback--but Hostetler also didn't look like he was ready to leave anymore.

"A lot of guys get frustrated," receiver Alexander Wright said. "When you see teammates blow a play you know they are capable of making because you see them do it in practice, it's frustrating."

So what exactly happened between Shell and Hostetler?

"I didn't ask and I don't want to know," Wright said. "Words were exchanged. One party was calm (presumably Shell) and the other was not."

Said Anderson of Hostetler: "He was just heated. Competitors get like that."

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