Quarterback Jeff Hostetler took a firm grip of the Raiders’ offense and Jeff Jaeger’s 37-yard field goal with 14 seconds to play gave them a 20-19 exhibition victory over the Rams Saturday night before 50,438 at Anaheim Stadium.
The Raiders (2-3) squandered a 17-6 halftime lead and were forced to overcome quarterback T.J. Rubley’s second-half heroics that accounted for the Rams’ 19-17 lead with 3:05 to play.
Jaeger’s kick, set up by an eight-play, 57-yard drive directed by quarterback Vince Evans, left the Rams with a potential quarterback controversy and the first winless exhibition season in club history.
“We have some character on our football team,” Ram Coach Chuck Knox said. “We’re going to need it.”
Hostetler, who was 13 of 18 for 144 yards, threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to running back Steve Smith in the first quarter and ended a three-game scoring drought for the Raiders’ top offensive unit.
Hostetler also directed two extended marches in the second and third quarters, although the Raiders came away with only three points.
“I think this was the first time that he (Hostetler) had total control of the offense,” Raider Coach Art Shell said. “He had a whole lot to learn coming in and I think he grasped it very well.”
Hostetler moved the Raiders 71 yards in 15 plays and knocked 9:05 off the clock before stopping at the Rams’ two-yard line and settling for Jaeger’s 20-yard field goal to establish a 17-6 halftime advantage.
Hostetler completed five of seven for 75 yards in his only second-half appearance and moved the Raiders from their 21-yard line to the Rams’ five-yard line before linebacker Chris Martin recovered a Greg Robinson fumble.
“This past week was the first week that I had a lot of work and it showed,” said Hostetler, who was given only two passing opportunities in last week’s exhibition against Indianapolis. “I’d like to be operating on all four cylinders from the get-go, but it’s tough.”
The Rams, meanwhile, have gone nowhere with Jim Everett in command. Everett finished the exhibition season having directed 21 drives and producing only one touchdown and four field goals. He did not throw a touchdown pass in four exhibition appearances, and his longest completion was 24 yards.
“He’s (Everett) very antsy,” said Raider defensive lineman Anthony Smith. “He’s a quarterback who doesn’t like to get hit. It’s very noticeable.
“When (Rubley) takes off to run, he really takes off. . . . I have to give him credit because he’s an athlete. I felt I had two sacks on him and they just didn’t happen.”
Rubley has been productive and exciting while Everett has been neither. Rubley was eight of 13 for 134 yards, including a scrambling 51-yard toss to wide receiver Richard Buchanan that set up the Rams’ only touchdown.
Rubley opened the third quarter with a 90-yard drive, and handed the ball to running back Russell White to complete it with a one-yard touchdown plunge.
His second possession resulted in a 46-yard Tony Zendejas field goal, and his third in a 39-yard Zendejas field goal to give the Rams a 19-17 lead.
Rubley dismissed the notion that a quarterback controversy exists for the Rams, saying, “There’s no way I threaten Jim Everett. You just don’t come in and beat someone out who has had the job as long as he has. There is no comparison.”
Ram center Bern Brostek said: “Boy, he’s got some outstanding tools, doesn’t he? He was out there once, and the pocket collapsed, but he was able to get out of it and throw about a 25-yard pass . . . it was really, really impressive.”
Everett, who was six of eight for 86 yards, was not available for comment after the game.
On the Rams’ second offensive play of the game, Everett turned to pitch the ball to running back Cleveland Gary only to find Gary out of his reach. Instead of falling with the ball, Everett chose to pitch the ball to Gary.
The ball bounced off Gary’s hip and was recovered by Greg Townsend at the Rams’ 25-yard line. Smith scored five plays later.
On the Rams’ next possession Anthony Smith sacked Everett, causing him to fumble. Smith regained his feet, picked up the ball and ran four yards for a 14-0 Raider lead.
Drives led by Everett placed Zendejas in position to kick field goals of 47 and 28 yards in the first half.
The Raiders offered a new look on offense by placing Nick Bell and Tyrone Montgomery behind Hostetler. Montgomery ran four times for 19 yards, and Bell gained 14 yards on five carries before leaving with a hamstring injury.
“I was fighting for extra yardage,” said Bell, who will undergo an MRI test today. “I planted my right foot and extended my left . . . and it popped.”
The Raiders also lost defensive lineman Chester McGlockton to a toe injury, cornerback Lionel Washington to a bruised shoulder and guard Todd Peat to a strained left foot.
“The injuries, that hurts,” Shell said. “But we got a lot done in the preseason. We’ll be OK. This team is coming together.”
The Rams offer no such promise. They lost four consecutive exhibition games and open at Milwaukee against the Green Bay Packers next week. They played against the Raiders without starting tackle Jackie Slater (toe), starting guard Leo Goeas (neck), starting wide receiver Henry Ellard (ankle) and lost linebacker Shane Conlan with a strained groin. In addition, Knox kept starting defensive tackle Sean Gilbert on the sideline to rest a sore knee.
“I don’t think (the winless exhibition record) matters,” Knox said. “We would have liked to win them all, but there were teams last year that went 5-0 in the preseason and then finished 4-12 in the regular season.”