The Oakland Raiders charged into the NFL playoffs for the sixth straight year today by crushing the Minnesota Vikings, 35-13.
The losers' fate will be determined by a Saturday night game in Detroit and off todays results, the Vikings are in trouble. They lost four fumbles and three of them passes were intercepted.
In the first quarter, the Vikings resembled the defensive team in those New York Life commercials. They not only couldn't stop the Raiders, they couldn't get out of their own way. In less than 11 minutes, Oakland built a 21-0 lead.
The comedy started when both teams came out to receive the opening kickoff. The Vikings, who lost the toss, were finally persuaded to kick it and their troubles quickly multiplied. After a holding penalty on their first serimmage play, the Raiders drove 80 yards in 12 plays for a touchdown. Mark van Eeghen, who picked up 23 of those yards, drove through left tackle for the final two.
Oakland quarterback Ken Stabler completed both his passes in the drive, but after a 30-yard toss to Cliff Branch alleviated a third-and-11 situation. Stabler handed off. The right side of Minnesota's defensive line, tackle Alan Page and end Jim Marshall, was victimized consistently as nine running plays chewed up the last 41 yards.
Manfred Moore of the Vikings muffed the ensuing kickoff, picked it up and was smothered at his 14. On second down, Brent McClanahan was unable to control rookie quarterback Tommy Kramer's handoff and dropped the ball without being hit. The Raiders' Otis Sistrunk recovered at the Minnesota 15.
Three plays later, Stabler fired a 10-yard touchdown pass to Branch, who broke away from safety Jeff Wright and headed toward the vacated right corner of the end zone.
Moore didn't fumble the next kickoff. He simply let it land and roll. When he did grab the ball he could RAIDERS, From D1> get back to farthter than the 12. On second down, Kramer dropped the snap but tackle Charlie Goodrum saved possession for the Vikings.
Oakland, taking over at the Minnesota 35 after a short punt, was stymied by another holding penalty and a 36-yard punt by Ray Guy sailed out at the Vikings' three.
Kramer, on the first play, again dropped the snap and this time Oakland linebacker Willie Hall caught the loose ball and stepped into the end zone. It was 21-0 and Minnesota seemed headed toward a defeat of record proportions.
On the first play following tht kickoff, Chuck Foreman fumbled and Oakland linebacker Floyd Rice recovered at the Minnesota 25. A third-down holding penalty, the third against the Raiders, brought about fourth and 14 at the 29. Amazingly, Oakland elected to punt and Guy not surpsingly put the ball in the end zone.
Minnesota accepted a gift early in the second period. Van Eeghen lost the ball and it flew over the line of scrimmage into the Minnesota secondary. Conerback Nate Wright scooped it up and went 27 yards to score on what amounted to a run around his right end.
The Vikings began moving offensively shortly before halftime. Starting at their 15, they drove to the Raider 23 before a fourth-down Kramer pass went awry. At one point, Kramer hit six straight passes. What would have been the seventh could not be handled by Sammy White, sandwiched by two Raiders in the end zone. White lost both shoes on the play.
Kramer's second interception was returned 27 yards to the Minnesota 18 by Jack Tatum in the third quarter. Errol Mann was wide left on a 37-yard field goal attempt.
When Kramer fumbled late in the period, the Viking were less fortunate. Sistrunk jarred the ball loose from the harried quarterback and Mike McCoy recovered at the Minnesota 32.
On first down, Stabler abandoned the conservative style that had been earning boos and hit Branch with a bomb behind Jeff Wright. It was 28-7 two seconds before the quarter ended.
After Skip Thomas picked off another Kramer pass in the fourth quarter, the Raiders drove 73 yards in 15 plays to make it 35-7. After 14 running plays, Stabler fired a two-yard scoring pass to Carl Garrett.