Swilling didn't get so much as a sniff of Aikman on Sunday, as the Raiders knocked heads with what may well be the best offensive line in the game. Whereas Aikman was sacked once, by Oakland end Anthony Smith, the Raider offensive line yielded not a single sack, which is not to say its protection was flawless; Hostetler had already released a pass late in the first half when Cowboy defensive tackle Chad Hennings pile-drove him into the turf. That shot reaggravated a left-shoulder injury Hostetler had suffered a week earlier and knocked him out of the game.
In a captivating subplot Hostetler was relieved by Vince Evans, that darling of the senior set, who rallied the Raiders to two late touchdowns. So spry and strong-armed is the 40-year-old Evans, one suspects him of having struck some Faustian bargain. Evans was so effective on Sunday, throwing for 232 yards in the second half alone, that some Raiders felt he should have gotten the start over the dinged-up Hostetler.
"I don't think Hoss was 100 percent," said wideout James Jett. "I think the better guy came in."
Clearly, his teammates have confidence in Evans. That's good, since at week's end it appeared that Hostetler could miss Monday's game at San Diego. If Hoss recovers slowly, the oldest player in the NFL could be the starter in the most important game remaining on Oakland's schedule, the Raiders' Dec. 3 rematch with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs, now 10-1, won their earlier game and could be the Raiders' largest obstacle to reaching the Super Bowl.
Thoughts of the Chiefs, incidentally, kept Dallas from fully enjoying its victory. The Cowboys headed back to Texas on Sunday unhappy in the knowledge that they would be lining up against Kansas City four days later, on Thanksgiving.
At least it would be a home game. Following their day with the ladies and gentlemen in the skull-and-crossbones regalia, the Cowboys were ready for the friendly confines of Texas Stadium. Before the Raider game, as the Cowboys disembarked from the team bus, they had been received by a silver-and-black mob that showered them with epithets and, to a lesser extent, refuse.
"That's a rough crowd, I'm telling you," said 6'5", 305-pound offensive tackle Mark Tuinei. "They were nasty."
At the Oakland Coliseum the distance between the visitors' bench and the barricade holding the masses at bay is approximately eight feet. To look on as the Raider fans screamed at the Cowboys in the waning minutes of Sunday's game was to understand why, in some soccer-playing nations, fans are separated from players by moats.
When the home team lost the ball on downs, and with it all hope for a win, one guy in his early 20's shouted, "O.K., defense, let's do some damage. Hurt somebody!"
Another guy insulted Aikman's mother. There was a lull, then someone shouted this friendly request: "Hey Cowboys, beat the hell out of the Chiefs!"