The Raiders usually run against NFL defenses about as well as Socialist Party candidates do for president. So the tremor that shook Bay Area fans today was that of 227 yards rushing against the Redskins. It was a collective effort, especially the 42-yard touchdown run that gave the Raiders a 10-point lead.
"We just blew 'em (the left side of the Redskin defense) down," said Oakland right guard Mickey Marvin."(Tight end) Dave Casper and (tackle) Henry Lawrence caved in the left side of the line, including the safety (Tony Peters). Then (pulling guard) Gene Upshaw cleaned everyone out.
"Actually, when I looked up, I saw Upshaw down in the end zone (celebrating with the ball carrier, Arthur Whittington). How much (running) yardage did we get?" Told the number, Marvin jumped and shook both fists in the air.
Upshaw shrugged his shoulders and mentioned some numbers of his own.
"We can only go 15-1 now," he said, referring to the Raiders losing last week for the only time in three games. Most NFL seers thought Oakland likely to be 1-2 at this point -- and a .500 team by the end of the season. That final-record prediction still holds firm among many beyond Upshaw, certainly among those who happened by quarterback Dan Pastorini's locker and listened as he said:
"I'm not trying to throw interceptions, although what I did out there might seem like a good argument against that. Mechanically, I think I'm throwing off my back foot. Why I don't know. And I'm trying to make things happen too much, instead of going with the flow of the game, to take what the defense gives me. I've got to settle down a bit.
"But it's not easy. It's something I love (the long touchdown pass), I've got to learn to be more patient."
If the Raiders had not scored early in the fourth quarter -- and gained a 24-14 lead -- they would have had a new quarterback. While Pastorini was directing the 90-yard drive in 14 plays, backup Jim Plunkett was warming up on the sideline.
"A change was a possibility," Coach Tom Flores said.
Joe Theismann, meanwhile, would have benefitted earlier from an improved Redskin running game. But Washington couldn't budge the Raiders' aggressive defensive line.
"It's no secret, if you can't run you can't win." Theismann said. That's certainly true with us. It would have helped to keep them off my back. I'm not being critical.We did the best we could but that is a good team we were playing out there."
While the offense stumbled, the Redskins were kept close by the play of their experienced secondary, which picked off three passes, one of which was turned into a touchdown by Washington.
"If we could have made them pass more, it would have been better for us," said Peters, who picked off two passes. "They just executed their runs very well. We were trying to stop them inside and they got around end on us a few times."
The Raiders also got an easy touchdown when Pastorini found Casper for a 20-yard score. Casper was wide open on the play, a breakdown that safety Ken Houston blamed on "a major coverage mixup. I have to take the blame. We just didn't go where we were supposed to."
The Redskins grumbled about the way the game was officiated, although Oakland wound up with eight penalties to Washington's five. Redskin Coach Jack Pardee spent much of the game yelling at the referees, but had no comment afterward.