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A Big Night for Raiders, Beuerlein : Quarterback Passes for 303 Yards in 37-22 Victory Over Bears

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Times Staff Writer

That might have been barely the Bears but it was clearly a Raider victory, their first of the exhibition season and just in time since it’s over now.

Steve Beuerlein, who started Friday night at 41.5%, missed on his first three passes and was tackled in the end zone, then recovered to go 18 for 33 for 303 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Raiders romped past what passed for the Monsters of the Midway, 37-22.

For Beuerlein, this may have been what you’d call good timing. There had been speculation that the Raiders were waiting to see how he did in this game before deciding if they wanted to make another run at the Redskins’ Jay Schroeder. If so, this might have been the game that got Beuerlein to opening day with the No. 1 job.

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“Well, it’s been kind of hard to come in and find something to smile about,” Beuerlein said. “But I know I’ve got a lot to learn. I’m young.”

OK, what’s the Bears’ excuse?

They’re not so young any more. Maybe they’re in mourning for the retired Walter Payton, the departed Wilber Marshall and Willie Gault, and the injured Mike Singletary and Otis Wilson. For whatever reason, they turned the ball over seven times, losing five fumbles in the first half alone. For the exhibition season, they had a turnover margin of 0-17 and a record of 1-3.

A week ago, after a loss in Dallas, Coach Mike Ditka called his team’s effort “a tragedy.”

Friday night, he let them off a little lighter.

“I think,” Ditka said diplomatically, “we’re going backwards.”

The Raiders, coming off an exhibition campaign in which they hadn’t come within 10 points of any opponent, started slowly themselves, but the Bears insisted they take the lead.

A bomb squadder named Sean Smith let a Jeff Gossett punt roll off his leg for fumble No. 1, setting up Chris Bahr’s 31-yard field goal.

Then Neil Anderson ended a Bear drive by fumbling at the Raider 1.

Then Matt Suhey fumbled at the Bear 26, setting up a one-play drive, Beuerlein’s touchdown pass to James Lofton.

Then Calvin Thomas ended a Bear drive by fumbling at the Raider 11.

Then another bomb squadder, Eric Starr, fumbled a punt, setting up Bahr’s 35-yard field goal.

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At halftime, the Raiders had been in and out and led, 16-15. In the second half, they played their best football of the exhibition season and put it away, Beuerlein throwing a 19-yard touchdown pass to Gault and a 32-yarder to Mervyn Fernandez.

“I think it’s been taking me some time to settle down,” Beuerlein said, “and it’s kind of upsetting me.

“I remember telling Coach (Mike) Shanahan after the second or third series, ‘I think I got it under control.’

“It just seems like it takes a few series for me to relax and realize what’s going on. That’s got to end.

“I’ve got a long way to go. I did some dumb things tonight. There were a few open guys I missed. I got a little excited. They were throwing some blitzes at me. I’ve just got to work on keeping my composure.”

From now on, he’ll do his work in prime time. Warm-ups are over.

Raider Notes

Gone: Safety Stefon Adams has been cut, meaning that the first (Jesse Hester), second (Tim Moffett) and third picks in the ’85 draft are all gone. . . . Going?: Bob Buczkowski played only a few downs at the end, suggesting he’s in trouble. If he’s cut, the top two picks from ’86 will be gone. . . . Most leveling experience of the night for Steve Beuerlein: William Perry fell on him. “I’ll tell you what, I’m still hurting from that,” Beuerlein said. “He knocked the air out of me for two plays after that.” . . . Willie Gault’s former teammates, Bear defensive backs Vestee Jackson and Dave Duerson, had invited him to run across the middle if he dared. Gault dared enough to catch his third touchdown pass of the exhibition season. “I saw that,” he said of the Bear quotes. “I think the media just provoked them into saying it. . . . I run over the middle a lot. I’ve always run over the middle a lot. I don’t always catch a lot of passes over the middle but at least I keep ‘em honest.”

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