For a warm-up, the Raiders' offensive linemen scattered some Rolex brochures in the locker of a teammate, the one with the big rushing numbers. Then they spent the night helping run up those numbers in Monday night's 16-6 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, until the Raiders had their first rushing champion ever.

That was Marcus Allen, who wound up with 123 yards in 24 carries, which gave him 1,759, making him the NFL champion by 40 yards over Atlanta's Gerald Riggs.

Also, with his ninth straight 100-yard game, he tied Walter Payton's two-week-old record. With 2,314 yards from scrimmage this season, he surpassed Eric Dickerson's 1-year-old mark of 2,244.

Allen then thanked his line publicly, which was the nicest thing anyone had said about it this season. The line leaked sacks by the bucket early, 33 in the first nine games, but allowed only nine in the last seven and blocked for a rushing champion, too. Allen lamented the fact that none of them made the Pro Bowl. For the Raiders linemen, Monday night was their Pro Bowl.

"They're the true heroes," Allen said. "They're guys who don't get a chance to get their faces in the sunlight, but they're the ones who you should be talking to.

"I think they wanted it more than I did. I see them coming back to the huddle breathing hard . . . the least I can do is go out and give my best.

"As far as being the first Raider to achieve that (a rushing championship), I think that's great. I'm very proud to have done that. I'm proud to be mentioned in the same breath, equal records of Walter Payton, Eric Dickerson.

"I think this year was a little bit unusual, a little contrary to the Raider scheme, but I think this team is the epitome of the team concept. This year, they kind of gave me the ball and I got all the credit. But this is a team.

"Early in the year, we had some quarterbacks hurt and they called on me. I thought I responded, but that's my job. That's what I'm supposed to do. That's what I'm paid to do."

The old Raiders scheme, the one under which Allen labored for three seasons, called on him to carry the ball 15 times a game or so. Allen is said to have chafed under the restraint.

However . . .

"All the great backs in the league, like O.J. (Simpson), would have traded it all in to go to the Super Bowl," Allen said. "And I have that opportunity again."

Among Allen's lesser-known deeds was a halftime speech during the season's fourth game, at New England. The Raiders, off to a 1-2 start, were trailing, 20-14. Several of the co-captains spoke, and Allen, too. The Raiders wound up winning, 35-20, so score one for oratory.

"You'd be surprised," said offensive tackle Bruce Davis. "Marcus is one of the fieriest guys on this team. I guess for you guys, the media, he's a little more cautious, but when we come in at halftimes, if we need a push, he's a catalyst. He's done it since he came here. He came in here like a 10-year veteran when he was a rookie . . .

"Our line is superstitious. We don't like to talk about numbers, but we were all aware of it. We read the Sunday papers. We knew he needed 84 yards to lead the league and 100 yards to tie Payton's record."

What else did this game mean? Or what was its real importance?

"We're in the black jerseys, which is nice," said Howie Long, his way of noting that the Raiders will play at home through the playoffs. "We're two games away from the Super Bowl. After six weeks of training camp, four exhibitions, 16 games, we win two games and we're in the Super Bowl. And if we get in the Super Bowl, I guarantee we'll win it. We're going to wear the black jerseys there, too. We're the home team. I checked."