The Oakland Raiders did today what the Philadelphia Eagles' opponents had been unable to do all season -- they shattered Coach Dick Vermeil' s spirit.
Star running back Wilbert Montgomery seemed to admit the spirit of Vermeil's team broke first. "All year we were a second-half ball club," Montgomery said. "Today, it was like we gave up. It was a terrible feeling."
In the Eagle dressing room after the 27-10 loss in their first appearance in a Super Bowl, Vermeil acknowledged that the Raiders were "more physical" and said he was not satisfied with the Eagles' performance, "starting with and coming right down to me."
He said of quarterback Ron Jaworski, who was intercepted three times: "Initially, he was a little uptight, but he loosened up. We just didn't put heat on the Oakland offensive line, and when we did, Jim Plunkett scrambled and completed passes.
"The Raiders turned broken plays into big plays. We couldn't capitalize when we got down there deep in Oakland territory.
"We probably wouldn't have beaten them anyhow; they were the better team today (referring to the Eagles defeating the Raiders in a regular-season game)."
"I'm not one to evaluate my performance," said Jaworski, who did so nevertheless. "My performance refects waht the team does. We didn't win."
Leonard Tose, owner of the Eagles, said of the outcome, "I can't laugh, and I don't cry.
"I suppose I'm thankful we got this far," Tose said. "But we didn't get far enough."
Bill Walsh, coach of the San Francisco 49ers, was a visitor to the locker room and encapsulated t he game by saying, "The breaks went to the Raiders early; they got momentum, and the Eagles never recovered."
Did the pregame hype get to the Eagles? "That would be an excuse for losing," said Vermeil.
The coach was asked if he tried to make any adjustments to combat the scrambling of Plunkett. "Yes," he said. "We moved our (defensive) ends wider to keep him from getting outside, but he scrambled and completed passes, anyhow.
"We were very fortunate to be here; Atlanta, the Cowboys and the Rams could have been here.
"I knew we were mentally ready. Maybe the Raiders were just that much better than us. I thought it would be a tighter game."
Did Vermeil plan to pass so early in the game, with a runner such as Montgomery?
"Well, we passed on first down right away, but we didn't expect it to be intercepted, because (Jaworski) isn't an interception thrower. When you're turning the ball over and not getting turnovers from the other team, it's tough."
As the Raiders continued the American Football (Conference's domination over the NFC in the Super Bowl, the Eagles savored small individual satisfactions.
Jaworski made good his midweek boast that Oakland cornerback Lester Hayes would not shut out Harold Carmichael. The towering wide receiver caught five pases for 83 yards, among them 29- and 14- yarders when Hayes was covering him.
And the Eagles scored on an eight-yard pass from Jaworski to tight end Keith Krepfle in the end zone on a defensive breakdown by the Raiders in which Hayes was trying to close in on Krepfle, but was far away at the catch.