The Los Angeles Raiders scored two touchdowns in a 44-second span late in the first half today, the first on a four-yard run by rookie Marcus Allen and the other on a 30-yard pass from Jim Plunkett to Cliff Branch, en route to a 38-14 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
"In a game when you get beat as badly as we did today, I don't know where the turning point is," said Coach Leeman Bennett of the Falcons. "They just lined up and whipped us."
The Raiders (2-0) went ahead for good, 10-7, on Chris Bahr's 35-yard field goal with 7:01 left in the first half. They blew the game open in the closing two minutes of the half with two quick scores.
Allen, who had scored the Raiders' first touchdown on a 14-yard pass from Plunkett midway through the first quarter, scored again immediately after a 50-yard pass from Plunkett to Todd Christensen.
Following a fumble recovery by Ted Hendricks, Plunkett threw to Branch to put the Raiders ahead, 24-7.
The Raiders made it 31-7 midway through the third quarter on a one-yard run by Frank Hawkins before the Falcons (1-1) drove 80 yards to score on a 17-yard pass from Steve Bartkowski to Bo Robinson.
The Raiders added a final touchdown when nose tackle Archie Reese scooped up a fumble by Bartkowski and ran 75 yards with 5:13 left.
Throughout the second half, the crowd chanted, "Go on strike," referring, of course, to the likely strike by the NFL Players Association on Tuesday.
Allen, last year's Heisman Trophy winner at Southern California, had 12 carries for 56 yards, completed a pass for 47 and caught four passes for another 39. Plunkett said Allen "gives us a new dimension . . . he's just showing how good he is."
Branch had six receptions for 138 yards, marking the 20th time he has caught passes for 100 yards or more in his career.
Plunkett completed 15 of 29 attempts for 237 yards as the Raiders dominated play most of the day.
Meanwhile, the Raiders' defense was hard on Bartkowski, sacking him seven times for 53 yards in losses. Bartkowski also had three passes intercepted, the last with just over two minutes remaining when, after Atlanta had driven to the Raiders' three-yard line, Matt Millen stopped the threat with an interception in the end zone.
Still, Bartkowski set club records for completions and attempts in a game, making 34 of 56 for 375 yards.