The Raiders have gone four seasons without winning a playoff game, and their shortcoming has not been schemes but stiff-legged, stiff-armed quarterbacks. Take Rusty Hilger, Quarterback of the Future last season. He's Quarterback of the Want Ads this season. Now Schroeder, who grew up in the L.A. area, has returned home after four seasons with the Washington Redskins. Sunday's game was his second with the Raiders, but he has yet to see action.
"The one thing you don't want to do is throw him in the river and have him take mouthfuls of water," said one Raider assistant earlier in the week. "Then everybody starts saying the trade was lousy." Shanahan agreed. "There were a couple situations when we could've put him in," he said on Sunday. "But I think it would've been unfair to Jay."
For his part, Schroeder probably took one look at the Raider offensive line and said, "Thanks, but I'd just as soon sit this one out." Two first-stringers, Don Mosebar and Brian Holloway, were sidelined with injuries; a third, John Clay, was part of an off-season trade to the Chargers for standout tackle Jim Lachey; and then Lachey was shipped off to Washington for Schroeder. No wonder the Rams got nine sacks, including five by a 33-year-old Gary Jeter. Five is more than Jeter has had in five of his 11 NFL seasons. "I hit for the cycle," said Jeter, who became the first NFL player since 1986 to have a five-sack game. "I felt like Wade Boggs on a roll. Every move I tried seemed to work."
Then there was the curious case of Everett, whose retinas were rattled so hard in the first quarter that his vision doubled. Still, even while seeing 22 defenders, he marched through the Raiders. "I'd close one eye, get the signal from the sideline and go with it," he said. "I was a little woozy, but we were driving." The Ram coaches knew Everett was in trouble, so they kept the ball on the ground. What's more, the Raiders were in a nickel defense. Bingo: The Rams went ahead 7-0 when their star running back—you fill in a name here; currently it's Greg Bell—carried the ball on six of 11 plays on the scoring drive.
By the way, anybody care to check in on the three-way Dickerson deal one year later? Bell, whom the Buffalo Bills threw in because they were sick of him, has run for 273 yards in three games, 109 of which he gained against the Raiders. The Rams used one of their first-round draft picks to select wide receiver Aaron Cox, who has become a starter and caught a 54-yard touchdown pass on Sunday. They used the other No. 1 to select running back Gaston Green, who hasn't gotten much playing time because Bell has been so effective. The Dickerson deal also gives the Rams one first-rounder and two second-rounders next year.
Last p.s. on Bell: One of the first people he met in L.A. was former Cleveland Browns great Jimmy Brown. Bell and funkster musician Rick James went over to Brown's house at 3 a.m. one night in the off-season, and Brown and Bell have been kindred spirits ever since. "He told me, 'Your break will come,' " says Bell.
Anyway, after the Raiders' Bill Pickel flattened Everett late in the first quarter, Everett could hardly see—and might have been hard-pressed to remember his street address. In came backup Mark Herrmann, the Larry Brown of football. Herrmann has been with five teams in his seven-year career. All he did was complete each of his three passes, get a field goal for a 10-0 lead and get yanked again. Everett was back.
The Raiders responded with a Chris Bahr field goal before the half and a Steve Beuerlein-to- Marcus Allen 30-yard TD throw to tie the score at 10-10 early in the third quarter. A few minutes later, Beuerlein, the Rams' human tackling dummy, found himself barking signals at his own four-yard line. He dropped back to pass, dodged a Ram and broke for a large, unused patch of grass. That's when, as the replays clearly proved, Ram linebacker Kevin Greene stuck out his leg and tripped Beuerlein in the end zone. No trip was called, the Rams were awarded a safety, the Raiders had to punt from their own 20, and the Rams drove down for another Lansford field goal. That put them ahead 15-10. Five points would be the Raiders' margin of defeat.
After the game, Shanahan inquired of an official why the trip hadn't been called. "I didn't see it," said the ref.
"He swung his leg out and tripped me," said Beuerlein. Even Greene fessed up—for a moment: "You're locked up with a guy, you see the quarterback escaping, and you try to get over to him. You stick something...[sudden pause] you try to get your body over in front of him." Prosecution rests.