Davis had enough to worry about. His Raiders had had the game in their grasp and they'd let it slip away. They went into the fourth quarter with a 14-10 lead and they were driving. The Jets' defense was weary. Their line was crippled. The Raiders' pass rush was finally getting to Todd. Then the turnovers came, three for L.A., two for the Jets. Raider Running Back Marcus Allen fumbled on the Jets' 14. Ex-Jet Burgess Owens intercepted a Todd pass in the end zone. On their next series the Jets went ahead, 17-14, on a one-yard plunge by Scott Dierking, set up by the previous play, a 45-yard rainbow from Todd to Wesley Walker, whose deep catches (seven for 169 yards) were the most striking element of New York's offense. Todd had shown a lot of guts and great stability, hanging in the pocket and throwing his bombs in the face of a furious second-half rush.
Now the clock was moving, and Raider Quarterback Jim Plunkett got panicky. He tried to force the ball to Cliff Branch on a down-and-in pattern, and Linebacker Lance Mehl intercepted at the Raider 35. Three plays later Jet Running Back Freeman McNeil lost his second fumble, and the Raiders had the ball on their own 33 with 2:26 left. A scramble and two completions got them to the Jets' 42, second and two, 1:50 left.
"We were going in, I knew it, I could feel it," Raider Coach Tom Flores said afterward. "I felt the game had turned for the last time."
Next to last time. Plunkett tried to hit Branch on the same down-and-in pattern—with the same result. Mehl intercepted again; he was one of three Jets who had a shot at the ball.
"The same exact thing," Mehl said. "Branch curled in, I curled in with him. I was surprised Plunkett threw the ball there."
Plunkett said he saw Mehl start outside and didn't see him come back in again. He said he got greedy when he just should have been trying to pick up the first down. Davis said it shouldn't have come to that.
"When it was 14-10, that's when we should have put the game away," he said. "We had the game, we had the damn thing right here and we let it slip away."
It was time to bring up an unfortunate matter. The half-time call, Michaels' accusation that Davis had masterminded it, the bitterness, the insults.
"Oh, geez, that stuff," Davis said. "It's just so stupid, but that's Walt. Crazy and stupid, both. I was sitting upstairs in my box at halftime. It doesn't even have a phone in it. I don't have enough to worry about at halftime, right? I've got to start making phone calls." He shook his head. "Crazy and stupid," he said softly.
The locker room was emptying slowly. Alzado was one of the last to leave. His dramatic and highly visible battle with Ward had been one of the focal points of the game. Ward won the first half, Alzado the second, forcing an interception, forcing a sack, making a second sack himself. Late in the third quarter Ward tried to push him over a pileup, which was when Alzado yanked Ward's helmet off and threw it at him.