Will It Again Be Doom in the Dome for Raiders Against Seattle?
The Raiders are going back to the Kingdome for today’s renewal of the series with the Seattle Seahawks, also known as, “What Did You Do With the Football?”
Subtitled, “I Don’t Know. I Thought You Had It.”
The Raiders are 2-5 here, lifetime, and have lost three in a row, including the playoff game last December that they’re still growling about. Said Rod Martin last week: “We have long memories.”
Unhappy ones, too. The Kingdome has been a massive pain in the Raiders’ Commitment to Excellence ever since the Seahawks began life in 1976.
The Seahawks won the first meeting here in 1978, John Madden’s last season as coach. The Seahawks also won in Oakland that season, completing a sweep. The Raiders finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs by a game.
It couldn’t happen twice? The next season, Tom Flores’ first as coach, the Seahawks swept again. The Raiders went 9-7 again and missed the playoffs by a game, again.
What was happening was no mystery. The Raiders had fallen into the habit of taking the Seahawks lightly.
Raider safety Mike Davis said: “You’d watch them on film--and I’m not making fun of the Seahawks, the same was true of the Minnesota Vikings--teams wearing black shoes look a little different. Black shoes make you look slow on film. Plus they played that schoolyard football. It was tough to take them seriously.”
Rod Martin agreed. “Take them lightly? Of course,” he said. “Everybody felt that way.”
After that, form finally asserted itself until Chuck Knox went northwest and turned form around. As Seahawk coach, Knox is 4-2 against the Raiders, 3-0 in Seattle.
The way that’s happened is no mystery, either.
Here’s how the Raiders’ last three Kingdome games went:
1983--Seahawks win, 38-36, despite being outgained, 382-153. Seattle quarterback Jim Zorn completes 4 of 16 passes for 13 yards. The Raiders turn the ball over eight times, on five fumbles and three interceptions by Jim Plunkett.
1984--Raiders arrive with a Monday night record of 21-2-1 and lose, 17-14, despite outgaining the Seahawks, 310-207. Seattle quarterback Dave Krieg completes 11 of 25 passes for 156 yards, but the Raiders turn the ball over six times, on three fumbles and three interceptions by Marc Wilson.
1984 playoffs--Raiders lose, 13-7. Seahawks finally outgain them, 248-240. Krieg completes 4 of 10 passes. The Raiders turn the ball over three times, twice on interceptions by Plunkett.
In all, the Raiders outgained the Seahawks, 932-608; held Seattle quarterbacks to 19 completions on 51 passes, turned the ball over 17 times--to the Seahawks’ three--and went 0-3.
But this is a new day. The Seahawks, one-time kings of the turnover ratio, have fallen from plus-24 and a 12-4 record last season to minus-1 and 4-4 today.
Is this form reasserting itself once again? The result of a tough early schedule, including five road games? Just a slump? They intend to find out today.
Krieg said: “I think this game is very crucial. I don’t know if it’s desperate, but it’s pretty close to that. We need to win some football games.”
And the Raiders, one-time kings of the turnover, period, have turned that around, too. They’re a minus-1 overall, too, but compared to a minus-12 in 1983, their Super Bowl season, and a minus-14 last season, it’s the comeback of the year.
They’re running the ball more than they ever have, a strategy born of their own early-season desperation, when the offensive line rained pass rushers, one of whom knocked Plunkett out. In the five-game winning streak, Marcus Allen has set three personal records for carries.
And they’re taking better care of the ball. Allen has lost one fumble all season, another turnaround and an almost incredible one, given all his carries and his imagination, not to mention his old tendency of waving the football around.
How long are the Raiders going to stay in this un-Raiderlike mode? One more Sunday, at least?
Then there are the Kingdome fans, famous for bouncing sound waves off visitors’ eardrums, the Blue Wave, and other antics.
Said Howie Long of the ’83 game: “There was this fan sitting behind our bench, and he was on me. I mean, he was talking about my mother, my sister, my dog. “I look up in the crowd and there’s Curt (Marsh, then injured), who’s sitting two rows behind the guy, sneaking up on him. So I taunt him, egg the guy on. All of a sudden, Curt picks him up by the scruff of the neck and asks me, ‘You want him?’ ”
The Raiders last week paid a sound company $2,000 to bring four huge speakers to practice in an attempt to attain the Kingdome’s 110-decibel level.
They’re prepared for other distractions, too, like fans in Raider-buster T-shirts.
“We’re going to wear them, too,” Flores said.
Raider Notes The Raider defense is No. 1 in the NFL in average against the rush, 3.2 yards; No. 2 in sacks, 37; No. 1 in opposing quarterbacks’ completion average, 47.5%, and No. 4 in yardage allowed. Dan Fouts is the only quarterback who has passed for 300 yards against them, and it took him 50 passes. No rusher has gained 100 yards against them, or 90, or 80, or 70. High opponents were Kansas City’s Herman Heard and New Orleans’ Wayne Wilson, each with 66.