Schottenheimer has never revealed the origin of his anti-Raiders passion, but anyone around him could sense it last week. During his media luncheon on the Tuesday before the game, Schottenheimer was digging into a burrito when his plastic fork snapped. Then the coach snapped, saying, "Can't we get a decent fork around here? Aren't we supposed to be a first-class organization?" During Thursday's practice, Cunningham was about to admonish the defense during a nine-on-seven drill when Schottenheimer beat him to the punch. "He went nuts," Cunningham said, "and from then on, that drill was a bloodbath." Said fullback Kimble Anders, "I've never heard so much cussing as I did from Marty this week."
It was obvious that harsh words would lead to down-and-dirty deeds, if only because the Chiefs' physical defensive front would be up against Oakland guard Steve Wisniewski. One of the league's best offensive linemen, Wisniewski may also be one of the least popular among defenders because of his relentless style. In the third quarter Wisniewski slammed Kansas City nosetackle Dan Saleaumua to the turf after the whistle. No penalty was called, but Saleaumua injured his right shoulder and was sidelined for several plays. Two days before the game, as he was munching on some chicken fingers, Thomas had said of Wisniewski: "I think he's a hell of a football player, one of the best linemen in the league—until he starts all of that bull. Two years ago in L.A., [Chiefs defensive end] Neil Smith hit Wisniewski so hard that the impact knocked his helmet to the side, and he curled up like a baby. That was like redemption for the entire NFL."
Informed of Thomas's comments on the day before the game, Wisniewski said, "I think Derrick's one of the best pass rushers in the league, until he starts hitting my quarterback."
On Sunday, Thomas's target was Hobert, who was filling in for Jeff Hostetler, the Raiders' No. 1 quarterback. Hostetler missed his second game with a strained knee ligament but is expected to make his '96 debut in Oakland's home opener this Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. His shaky health has been a factor throughout the skid, but the Raiders can't blame this defeat on Hostetler's absence. Though Hobert's stats (19 of 40, 181 yards) weren't stellar, he hung in tough against Kansas City's pass rush. His only interception was a catchable ball that bounced off the hands of wideout James Jett and into the arms of linebacker Tracy Simien, who made a nice grab. Hobert's fumbles came after blindside hits by Thomas, a seven-time Pro Bowl player who has four sacks in his first two games.
Kansas City had taken a 7-0 lead 1:09 before halftime on quarterback Steve Bono's one-yard touchdown pass to fullback Tony Richardson. The score had been set up two plays earlier when, on a second down from the Raiders' 24, former Chiefs cornerback Albert Lewis interfered with wide-out Lake Dawson in the end zone. The Raiders took the second-half kickoff and drove 73 yards in 12 plays to the K.C. three. On first down Chiefs safety William White nailed halfback Napoleon Kaufman for a two-yard loss, and on the next play Hobert ran a play-action fake to running back Harvey Williams and dropped back to pass. Thomas had seen a similar play while studying film, and he made an executive decision to ignore the fake. Tight end Andrew Glover had gone in motion and was supposed to pick up Thomas, but Thomas blew past him and hit Hobert high. Hasty picked up the ball and was gone, evoking images of his 64-yard interception return into the same end zone that gave Kansas City a 23-17 overtime victory over the Raiders last September. Schottenheimer had rewarded Hasty with kisses on that occasion, but there would be no encore. "I went down to the end zone," Schottenheimer said after Sunday's run-back, "but he sort of looked at me and said, 'Uh-uh.' "
The Raiders could have kissed their chances goodbye at that point because they have handled adversity with all the composure of Bob Knight. Even before Hasty's touchdown, one Kansas City defender said that he had heard Raiders wideout Tim Brown tell his teammates, "If we can't beat 'em, we might as well try to beat 'em up."
If the Raiders keep getting beat, there's little question that Mike White will be the fall guy. Defensive coordinator John Fox quit last month, fed up with Davis's meddling and antagonistic behavior, and last week several Bay Area newspaper columnists speculated that White may be headed for the fate suffered in '89 by Mike Shanahan, who was fired after a 1-3 start to his second season. Either special teams coach Rusty Tillman or assistant head coach-offense Joe Bugel would be White's likely successor. "There isn't a whole lot more, other than donning a uniform, that Mike White could have done for us so far," Wisniewski says. "But I guess the captain is gonna take the fall when the ship is sinking."
Meanwhile, Kansas City keeps cruising along like a Waverunner, though some choppiness lies ahead. There is still resentment in the locker room over Bono's decision to spend much of his off-season in the Bay Area, rather than participate in all the team's voluntary workouts. At one point last spring, Thomas and Bono engaged in a heated argument at the team's indoor practice facility. Performances like Sunday's can do wonders for locker room harmony, though Cunningham will remain the ultimate killjoy.
As he peeled the tape from his sweaty hands, Thomas was already bracing himself for the next day's defensive meeting. "We gave up that field goal toward the end—and 296 yards," he said. "Gunther's gonna go ballistic. He's gonna m—————us all morning."
Can't we all just get along?