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No Offense, but Raiders Need It : Pro football: They can't get anything going in 13-3 loss to Chiefs, ruining a chance to move up in standings.

November 07, 1994|STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It began with an interception.

It ended with an interception.

And it didn't get any better in between.

The Raiders spent 60 miserable, frustrating, mistake-filled minutes Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium trying unsuccessfully to get into the end zone. Instead, they might gotten themselves out of playoff contention in losing to the Kansas City Chiefs, 13-3, before a delighted crowd of 78,709 that came to boo Harvey Williams and wound up cheering their own side.

"When you lose you can come up with 102 excuses," receiver Tim Brown said.

Instead, the Raiders came up with what seemed like 102 ways to self-destruct.

Interceptions, insufficient blocking, false starts, enough penalty flags to wave any chance of victory goodby, conservative play-calling and missed field goals. You name it, they did it.

When the Raiders took the field Sunday, they found before them a ladder of opportunity to climb back into the playoff hunt despite having started the season 1-3. The AFC West-leading San Diego Chargers had lost earlier in the day to drop to 7-2. The second-place Chiefs were only a game ahead of the Raiders at 5-3.

By losing, however, the Raiders fall to 4-5 with seven games to play, that ladder looking more like a mountain.

What happened?

--What happened to the vaunted Raider receiving corps? The team had assembled enough speed among pass-catchers to field a track squad. But quarterback Jeff Hostetler has chosen to hand the baton to only one man, Tim Brown.

Brown caught six passes Sunday, but no other wide receiver caught a ball.

Season scorecard: Brown, 50 catches. Rest of the wide receivers, 33.

Brown, double-covered much of the evening, said the coaching staff discussed "going to the other side," but nothing materialized.

--What happened to Hostetler's reputation for making the smart throw and avoiding the interception whenever possible?

He admitted after Sunday's game that he has gotten out of character in an effort to single-handedly try to salvage an offense that has become one in name only.

"I'm probably forcing some things," he said. "I'm trying to make the big play and I'm not helping."

Hostetler and Brown tried to make a big play on the opening play from scrimmage, thus sending a message to the Chiefs.

It was a message that was delivered to the wrong person.

Hostetler fired a bomb to Brown streaking down the right side. Over came free safety William White to pick it off.

Hostetler had thrown a career-high 10 interceptions last season. He threw a pair Sunday to give him 11 for this year with seven games to go.

And it could have been worse. Under heavy pressure on his second series of the game, Hostetler foolishly threw a ball that defensive end Darren Mickell picked off for an apparent interception.

Instead, for one of the few times on a night when they were penalized 15 times for 115 yards, the Raiders welcomed the flag. A false start by right tackle Greg Skrepenak before the snap nullified the play.

Hostetler was lucky again in the third quarter. A pass intended for Brown--of course--found its way into the arms of defensive back David Whitmore after Brown slipped on the grass.

Facing the end zone about 25 yards away, Whitmore had a clear field.

But not the ball.

It bounced out of his overeager hands, keeping the Raiders temporarily alive.

--What happened to the Raider offensive line?

That line surrendered five sacks to the onrushing Chiefs, led by Neil Smith's pair, and was guilty of seven false starts along with a couple of holding calls and one for illegal motion.

Skrepenak, in the lineup the past three weeks as a starter for the first time, was guilty of three of those false starts.

Welcome to Arrowhead Stadium, where the noise level sometimes seems to match that at nearby Kansas City International Airport.

"I couldn't hear," Skrepenak said. "It was my first time playing here. I knew the plays. I just couldn't hear the snap count. For an offensive lineman, that is one of your biggest advantages. There were some immature mistakes on my part."

--What happened to the Raider offense at the end of the first half?

In the first 30 minutes, the Chiefs took a 7-3 lead, Joe Montana's 57-yard touchdown pass to tight end Derrick Walker being the only touchdown of the game.

The Raider offense consisted of a 50-yard field goal by Jeff Jaeger. He also missed from 33 and 44 yards. The 33-yard miss came after he connected from 28 yards, but that kick was nullified by--what else?--a penalty.

But with 1:49 to play before intermission and the ball on the Raider 27, Coach Art Shell chose to play conservatively, calling for four Williams runs and only one pass on a drive that fizzled at the Raider 44, Jeff Gossett punting to close out the half.

"It's not a lack of confidence," Shell insisted. "You've got to be smart about the things that you do. We were going into the half down, 7-3. I'll take that."

With his offense, that's understandable if not acceptable.

That offense wasn't heard from in the second half, the only points were scored by Kansas City's Lin Elliott, who kicked field goals of 19 and 27 yards.

Williams celebrated his return to the team he played for the past three seasons by gaining a game-high 93 yards in 24 carries. But he was hardly in a celebrating mood.

So what now for the Raiders?

"Win," defensive lineman Nolan Harrison said. "We've tried everything else. We might try winning. That might help."

Raider Notes

Raider defensive backs Derrick Hoskins (ankle) and Albert Lewis (knee) were knocked out of the game. No word was given on the seriousness of those injuries. . . . The Raiders play the Rams next Sunday at Anaheim Stadium.

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