The Los Angeles Raiders are gone. There will be no Al Davis-Pete Rozelle Super Bowl tiffs this season, no bombs to Cliff Branch, no black-and-silver man to man.
The defending Super Bowl champions were eliminated from the playoffs today in the most elementary way.
They were run over.
The Seattle Seahawks, playing before 62,049 wild fans inside the Kingdome, led the Raiders to an agonizingly slow defeat, 13-7, this afternoon.
Seattle (13-4) will play at Miami next weekend in a rematch of their AFC semifinal game a year ago, won by Seattle. The Raiders finished their season with a 11-6 record and identical 13-7 losses -- to Pittsburgh last weekend and, now, Seattle.
It was the third time the wild-card teams from the AFC West had met this season. Each had won once before today. They knew each other quite well.
Perhaps too well for the Raiders. The Seahawks, primarily trying to neutralize the Raiders' pass rush, devised an "option" running game that gave their backs, especially seven-year veteran Dan Doornink, extra time to decide which way to go. This didn't overwhelm the Raiders, but it allowed the Seahawks to inch their way to victory with 205 yards on the ground in 51 rushing plays.
"They met somebody in their division who was real familiar with them," veteran offensive guard Reggie McKenzie said gleefully. "That was the difference."
Doornink, a 28-year-old medical student at the University of Washington when he isn't playing football, became the chief beneficiary of a running game so obsessive that quarterback Dave Krieg was allowed to throw only 10 times.
Working out of a backfield set a step deeper back than usual, Doornink rushed 29 times for 126 yards, the best day of his largely undistinguished pro career. His previous best total this season was 67 yards against Cincinnati. He gained 122 yards once several years ago.
Doornink, a steady receiver out of the backfield, usually would be used on third-down passing situations. But, this season, because of injuries to Curt Warner and most of the rest of the running backs at one time or another, he has been forced into the tailback position.
Today, he flourished there.
"We probably ran three running plays all day," he said. "I was not going to let them get a straight hit on me. I wanted four or five yards every time, so we never had long distances (to get a first down)."
The Seattle game plan was as simple as it could be. Coach Chuck Knox's team has not gained the nickname "Ground Chuck" for nothing.
"We felt going in that the game would be decided by us keeping the ball on the ground and not making any turnovers," Doornink said.
Seattle, the league leader in interceptions and fumble recoveries, doesn't make mistakes. It causes them. And today the Raiders made three, one of which set up a Seattle field goal.
"The intensity was there," said L.A. running back Marcus Allen, who gained 61 yards on 17 attempts for an offense that only cracked the 50 three times. "The guys knew what we had to do. Maybe we didn't get it done, or maybe they just outplayed us."
The Seahawks scored the first 13 points before the Raiders finally came to life late in the game. Quarterback Jim Plunkett threw a 46-yard pass to Allen with 5:05 remaining to bring the Raiders within six, but that was as close as they got as Plunkett was intercepted on a last-ditch bomb.
In the first half, the Raiders could do nothing; the Seahawks, almost nothing.
The Raiders got no closer to the goal line than the Seattle 42.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, scored once, on Krieg's 26-yard pass to wide receiver Daryl Turner to finish off a 93-yard drive.
It was one of only four completions thrown by Krieg, who had 70 passing yards, well below his average of 230. It was so bad that standout receiver Steve Largent, who has caught at least one pass in 107 regular-season games, was shut out today.
The most exciting moment of the first half may have been when the Seahawk fans had three different waves going at once.
Seattle, which lost the last two games of its regular season, began its scoring drive after Ray Guy's punt bounced out of bounds at the seven.
The Seahawks started modestly enough, with a one-yard run by Doornink. When the backs weren't running, they were receiving. Krieg passed to fullback David Hughes in the right flat for 10 more, to the 18.
Four more rushes netted 26 more yards before Krieg threw long to Largent down the right sideline.
The pass flew over his head, but cornerback Lester Hayes plowed over him. The pass interference put the ball at the Los Angeles 33.
Doornink gained 10 more, then Hughes lost three. On second and 13, Turner ran a post pattern from the right sideline into the end zone, slicing between Hayes in back and nickel back Odis McKinney in front for the touchdown.
Norm Johnson's extra point gave the Seahawks a 7-0 lead with 4:19 remaining in the half.
The Seahawks, who did not have a sack in their last two games, had five in the first half for a loss of 39 yards. (They added one more in the second half.) Defensive end Jacob Green led the way with three.
The pressure from the Seattle defense caused Plunkett to move from the pocket often, as he completed 14 of 27 for 184 yards, but only one long pass.
"Give us a lot of credit," said Seattle cornerback Keith Simpson. "They're the Super Bowl champs. They're supposed to be the best, and you want to disprove that."
The game still stood at 7-0 in the third quarter when Plunkett swung a pass to fullback Frank Hawkins. Just as he began to run, linebacker Bruce Scholtz stripped the ball from his arms and Simpson recovered at the 38.
Krieg salvaged a third-and-10 situation when he scrambled out of the shotgun formation for 13 yards to the 25. But a holding penalty on tight end Charle Young two plays later was too much to overcome, and Johnson came in for a 35-yard field goal with 1:29 remaining in the quarter to put Seattle ahead by 10-0.
The Raiders bungled their next opportunity when, on second down from the 20, Plunkett stepped up and threw long -- but not long enough. His pass toward Dokie Williams dropped into the hands of free safety John Harris, who jumped in front of Williams for the interception at the Seattle 31.
In the fourth quarter, Johnson kicked another field goal, this one 44 yards, after Seattle took over on the Raiders 49 following Guy's 33-yard punt.
Tight end Mike Tice, a four-year veteran out of Maryland, caught a 20-yard pass to the 29, but the Raiders defense, particularly Lyle Alzado and Brad Van Pelt, stuffed the Seahawks' running game, forcing the field goal with 10:50 left in the game.