Rauch professed not to be worried about Lamonica. He may have been a victim of too much success throwing deep to Wells in exhibition games. The Raiders don't believe in throwing many short patterns—flares and hitches—that boost passing averages; instead, they like to hit in the intermediate range, about 14 yards downfield. In a departure from the behavior of most pro teams, Oakland's offense will often go for the long pass against a blitz—with automatic rules for blocking against the various blitzes and with a complex system of audible plays Lamonica can call at the line if he senses a blitz coming. Lately Lamonica has quit aiming so frequently for easy touchdowns and has gone back to calling a game that utilizes more of Oakland's multiple talents.
Against the Chiefs, it was immediately evident that Lamonica had indeed returned to form and that his counterpart, Dawson, was in for an excruciating afternoon. In the first period Dawson threw a high, rather aimless pass that was intercepted. Lamonica, standing in strongly against the rush, hit Wells with a 29-yard touchdown pass. The Chiefs tied the score on a 29-yard pass from Dawson to Gloster Richardson, but the Raiders, with Lamonica throwing beautifully and connecting on third-down situations, began to pull away. One pass to Fred Biletnikoff covered 82 yards, though it led only to a field goal. By the half the Raiders had built a 31-7 lead and the Chiefs had to abandon any plans to confuse Oakland with a Full House.
Lamonica threw a touchdown pass to Billy Cannon early in the third quarter to make it 38-7. With 6:49 still to play in that period, Jim Lynch of Kansas City blitzed and tackled Lamonica low and hard. The Oakland quarterback rolled over and clutched his left knee. He had already passed for 352 yards and two touchdowns. Now he had to be supported as he left the field and George Blanda came on in relief. The Chiefs made the score more respectable with a 92-yard touchdown pass from Dawson to Richardson and a 61-yard pass from Jacky Lee to Frank Pitts, but the Raiders were clearly in control of the game.
Afterward, however, a bit of mystery was introduced. While Rauch was saying. "Without a doubt this is one of the finest games the Raiders ever played," a pair of crutches was smuggled in and Lamonica, who had been wearing an ice pack on his knee, disappeared. "We sneaked him out the back door," grinned Oakland General Manager Al Davis. Why did you do that, Al? "Aw, everybody would want to ask him about his knee," Davis said. By the way, what's wrong with his knee? "I'm no doctor," said Davis. The early diagnosis was that Lamonica's knee is badly bruised, which could be costly.
This week the Raiders play Denver and should be able to win without Lamonica, but they may need him the week after against the Jets. Meanwhile bot' Kansas City and San Diego have a couple of easy games coming up, so the Western Division standings figure to remain the same for a while longer, with room at the top in the end for the team that can put the largest number of healthy players on the field most often.