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At Second Glance, Raiders Are Lucky : Pro football: Instant replay has played a key role in the team’s success.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

You need some breaks to get to 9-4, and the Raiders have had their share of good fortune in 1990.

In Week 2, a communications breakdown with the instant replay booth helped the Raiders beat Seattle, 17-13, at the Kingdome.

Remember? Quarterback Jay Schroeder completed a long pass to Mervyn Fernandez, who appeared to get only one foot inbounds at the Seahawk 32. Replay official Bob Beeks tried to buzz the field to stop play for a review but couldn’t make contact. Something about crossed wires. The Raiders continued the drive and scored a touchdown.

A week ago Sunday, Scott Davis blocked a last-second field-goal attempt to save a 23-20 victory over the Broncos at Denver.

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Monday night against Detroit at the Silverdome, the Raiders were on the favorable endof three instant replays in their 38-31 victory. A 68-yard touchdown pass from Jay Schroeder to Willie Gault was upheld when it was ruled inconclusive whether Lion safety Bennie Blades made contact with Gault, who fell after making the catch inside the Detroit 20.

Later in the quarter, Marcus Allen was first ruled down short of the goal line on a two-yard run; then the decision was overturned, and the play was called a touchdown.

But the most controversial call was an apparent fourth-quarter fumble by Bo Jackson after an 11-yard run to the Detroit 27 with 3:31 remaining. As the ball bounded loose along the sideline, Lion linebacker George Jamison swatted it back onto the field, and teammate Jerry Ball recovered it.

Referee Johnny Grier ruled that Jackson had fumbled the ball forward out of bounds.

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The play was reviewed by replay official Al Sabato, who said in a pool report released after The Times’ deadlines that he viewed three angles of the sequence and found the evidence inconclusive. Sabato ruled that the play should stand.

After the Raiders ran another play, Sabato said, ABC--which televised the game--ran another shot that clearly showed the ball was not out of bounds and should have been awarded to Detroit.

Sabato: “After the play went on, TV came back with another shot, with an end-zone shot looking into the fumble, which if I had had that shot, I would have overruled the play on the field. I did not have it. I did not delay it any more after those three (shots).”

Sabato also made the call in less than the two minutes allotted for replay decisions. Had he waited a few more seconds, would he not have received the conclusive shot from ABC?

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“We normally don’t wait when they give us three shots,” Sabato said in the statement. ". . . Just on rare occasions, you’re liable to get another shot. The intentions are to go with what they give you, and they gave me three shots on the side.”

It was not explained in the pool report why Sabato did not have access to a first showing of the fourth angle--that from the end zone--which was shown by ABC to the public before the Raiders’ next play and in time to affect his call.

Trailing by four points, the Lions should have had the ball at their 27 with 3:31 left. Instead, Jeff Jaeger kicked a 37-yard field goal to extend the Raider lead to 38-31.

The Lions got the ball back on their 20 with 1:49 remaining and lost 15 yards in four plays, surrendering the ball on downs.

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The controversial play does bring up the apparent disparity of the instant-replay system as it relates to “Monday Night Football.” ABC uses almost twice as many cameras compared to the number on weekend network telecasts, thus giving the replay booth shots that might not be available in most games.

Had Monday night’s game been on Sunday, Sabato might never have been afforded the fourth angle of the play.

“It’s a shame I’m prohibited from saying how awful the officials were,” Lion owner William Clay Ford told the Detroit News. “That’ll get me a fine. It’s worth it.”

When told of the attention the play received in the Detroit media, Raider Coach Art Shell shrugged.

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“Everything else didn’t matter, huh?” Shell asked.

He said there is no use complaining about instant replay, as long as it’s being implemented.

“It’s in, so you’ve got to deal with it,” he said. “Doesn’t matter what I think, because I don’t have a say or a vote in it.”

Raider Notes

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The Bengals have lost safety Ricky Dixon with a broken leg, and cornerback Lewis Billups aggravated an ankle sprain late in the 20-17 overtime loss to the 49ers. . . . Because of the Lions’ run-and-shoot offense, Raider linebacker Riki Ellison, a specialist against the run, played only on special teams Monday.


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