- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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"Oh, that's good," he said. "Very good, indeed. Please tell the Redskin trainers to procure some NoDoz for Charlie, because there's a strong possibility he was dreaming out there."
Yes, the team of the '60s beat the team of the '80s. Davis had used six defensive backs in long-yardage situations then, just as the Raiders did against the Skins Sunday. He even used a variety of the 3-4 in the old days, with a roving, sometimes-up, sometimes-down lineman named Dan Birdwell. Raider teams always have attacked—defensively and offensively. They strike deep with their passes, and their linemen come off the ball hard with a minimum of finesse, and the fullback leads the halfback through, while on defense the Raiders try to shut down everything. They've been consistent for almost two decades, and it gave Super Bowl XVIII a nice, Old World touch.
Marcus Allen is the big new element. The Raiders have never had a back quite like him. Oh, they've had good halfbacks—Clemon Daniels, Clarence Davis—but none of them had the moves or game-breaking potential of Allen. During Super Bowl week he spoke of how he didn't feel he was getting the ball enough. "In September I was talking with Mr. Davis on the practice field one day and I said, 'I'd sure like to run more,' " Allen said. "He told me, 'Take a few laps after practice.' The conversation was ended."
Allen started off slowly against the Redskins. At halftime he had 51 yards on 11 carries, decent but nothing spectacular. Early in the third quarter, though, he gave a preview of things to come. The Skins had just driven 70 yards to cut the L.A. lead to 21-9. The Raiders had taken the ensuing kickoff and moved to Washington's five. On second and goal, Allen slanted right, cut back left and slid into the end zone, leaving three Skins clutching air. It was a typical Allen cutback, neat, smooth and final.
On the last play of that quarter, when the Raiders took over after Riggins had been stacked up by Rod Martin, the right linebacker, and Mike Davis, the strong safety, on a fourth-and-one shot at the Los Angeles 26, Allen won the Super Bowl MVP award. He swept to his left, where he was shut off by strong safety Ken Coffey, and then reversed direction. But here's what makes Allen the runner that he is. Nine out of 10 other NFL backs would have kept going wide to the right, picking up their eight or 10 yards, but all of a sudden Allen broke inside, straight up the middle, past linebackers Monte Coleman and Rich Milot, past clutching middle linebacker Neal Olkewicz, who hit the deck, and away from pursuing cornerback Anthony Washington. Seventy-four yards in all, for the touchdown that made the score 35-9 and sent the game into the history books.
"They kind of overpursued," Allen said later. "I kind of cut back, they kind of missed me. It was all reaction. No thinking involved."
"I was just picking myself up off the ground," Raider right guard Mickey Marvin said. "Then I looked around and a rocket went through."
On his 20 carries, Allen ended up with 191 yards, breaking Riggins' Super Bowl rushing record of last year. He added two more Super Bowl marks, longest run—his 74-yarder—and most all-purpose yards, 209 counting the two passes he caught for 18. But I wouldn't have given him the MVP award. The issue already had been decided when Allen broke his big run. And as brilliant as he was, it was a defensive victory for the Raiders. They held a team that set a record for most points in a season (541, a 33.8 average) to its lowest total in 45 games. They held Riggins to 64 yards on 26 carries, a 2.5 average. The L.A. defense intercepted Theismann twice, sacked him six times, forced him to cough up the ball once on a fumble and scored a TD. My MVP would have been Kinlaw.
"He made a lot of tackles," said the Skins' alternate running back Joe Washington, who had been the big man in Washington's regular-season victory over the Raiders but was no factor Sunday. "He messed up a lot of plays. He had a lot to do with other guys making big plays behind the line of scrimmage. He really had a great game. He was the major force on defense."
"Reggie and me," Martin said, "just two 12th-round draft choices trying to get by."