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Raiders' Williams Has Point to Prove, and so Does Allen : Pro football: Two running backs' personal motivation against their former teams adds an edge to tonight's game in Kansas City.

November 06, 1994|STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

They both left with tastes of bitterness. They both thirst for revenge.

They both are running backs, one trying to show he has begun realizing his potential for greatness, the other eager to show there is more greatness to be seen.

Harvey Williams and Marcus Allen.

They are the centerpieces in today's matchup between the Raiders and the Chiefs at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium.

Yes, beyond the personalities, there is a lot at stake this evening. The Chiefs won their first three games and five of their first seven, making a spirited attempt to keep pace with the AFC West-leading San Diego Chargers.

But Kansas City was crushed last week by the Buffalo Bills, 44-10, and must suddenly protect its rear. At 5-3, the Chiefs must now concern themselves as much with holding onto their wild-card spot for the playoffs as with chasing the Chargers.

That hot breath the Chiefs feel on the backs of their necks belongs to the Raiders, who have Williams suddenly leading them on a run of their own.

The Raiders started the season at the other end of the spectrum, losing their first two games and three of their first four, nearly dropping out of contention before the season was half over. But they have won two in a row, against admittedly struggling teams, and at 4-4 are only a game behind the Chiefs.

Even with the fortunes of both teams perhaps hanging in the balance, the spotlight will remain focused on Williams and Allen.

There's no question Williams has led the Raider surge. Given the starting job he so desperately wanted to hold onto in Kansas City, he has rushed for 107 and 128 yards in the last two games. The best he ever did in a single game in his three seasons in Kansas City was 103 yards.

Williams often has spoken about never having gotten a fair shot from Chief Coach Marty Schottenheimer, and he talked about it again this week.

"I'd be lying to you if I told you I didn't take this game personal," he said. "I want to win. I want to play well. That's all I can ask for. As far as the things I went through in Kansas City, I think that it was a learning experience. . . . I'm here now. I'm at home now. Kansas City is in the past."

But it's a past Williams can't quite put behind him. A first-round draft choice of the Chiefs from Louisiana State, Williams, when he arrived, had to take a number and wait in the crowded Kansas City backfield behind Christian Okoye and Barry Word.

After two years, Williams said, Schottenheimer told him he was finally going to get his chance. And then, the Chiefs signed Allen, whose bitter feud with Raider owner Al Davis had sent him in search of a new team.

"I started the games but I only got the ball one or two times," Williams said. "Then they put Marcus in there. Marcus is Marty's man. He wanted Marcus in there. If he would have come to me and told me, 'Look Harvey, we want Marcus in there, (it would have been different).' But don't lie to me."

Schottenheimer's desire to give the ball to Allen is not hard to figure, though. Free of the controversy and lack of playing time that held him down in Los Angeles, Allen rushed for 764 yards last season, his highest total in five years, and scored 15 touchdowns, a dozen of those on the ground.

Williams, though, maintains he never got the chance to show his stuff.

"I could see if I was getting the ball like I'm getting it now and wasn't putting up the numbers," he said. "But that wasn't the case. How can somebody be considered a bust when you're only getting the ball one or two times a game? . . . If I was getting 27 carries and getting 0.6 yards per carry, or if they were throwing the ball to me and I was dropping it, I could see it."

Williams wasn't ushered right into the Raiders' starting lineup, either. It took him six games to bump Ty Montgomery out of the tailback spot. But in doing so, Williams has shown consistent improvement. In the last four games, he has rushed for 65, 72, 107 and 128 yards. He also has caught 12 passes for 81 yards in the last two games.

"He appears to be quicker," Schottenheimer said. "I don't know if he's lost weight, but he appears to be much quicker than he may have been with us."

The 6-foot-2 Williams says he weighed 232 pounds last year because he thought Schottenheimer favored bigger backs. He's now running at 205.

His counterpart in Kansas City, Allen, hasn't had much to say about his Raider situation since leaving and he hasn't had much to say to the media at all in recent days, since the tabloids and a recent book started linking him romantically with Nicole Brown Simpson, the murdered former wife of O.J. Simpson, Allen's close friend.

But both Williams and Allen hope to express themselves tonight on the field in front of old friends, now new rivals.

"It's like something out of a movie," said Williams.

Sort of a cross between "The Fugitive" and "Unforgiven."

Raider Notes

The Raiders waived tight end-fullback Kevin Smith and activated defensive end Alberto White. . . . Kansas City offensive left tackle John Alt and defensive left end Neil Smith are expected to start but neither will be at full strength. Alt has a back problem and Smith a sore ankle. The Chiefs' receiving corps will be thinner. Tight end Keith Cash is sidelined because of a knee injury, as is wide receiver J.J. Birden because of a bad back. Left cornerback Mark Collins is doubtful because of a deep thigh bruise.

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