And how about the Raiders' defense in general?
"They were butchering us at the line of scrimmage," Washington said. "They just put an old-fashioned can of whip-ass on us."
The Los Angeles defenders had been so typecast as intimidators and roughnecks that people forgot how much genuine talent they have. Intimidation was no factor Sunday. There were a couple of scuffles, a bit of finger-pointing, but very few late hits or cheap shots. "The game was too big for any of that junk," Alzado said.
On Tuesday night, after the Raiders had been in Tampa for only one day, they were ready. "I want to play right now," Alzado said. "I read one paper that said I couldn't handle Joe Jacoby. I don't want to hear his name. I can't stand to hear it. I want to go out and play, now, right now; I want to settle this thing."
In his room in the Raiders' hotel, Millen, the former Penn Stater, endlessly ran the films of Los Angeles' 37-35 October loss to the Redskins. "Look at this, we're stuffing them on the line," he said. "The Hogs, the great Hogs. Look at what Kin-law's doing to [Skins center Jeff] Bostic. Look at Howie Long caving in the whole right side of their line. They can't block him with one man. Watch [Washington left guard] Russ Grimm come out to block me here—a stalemate, right? They can't budge us. I know they can't. If we just don't screw up and overpursue and make mistakes, we'll kill them.
"I get up in the middle of the night and run these films. I've run them eight, 10 times. I can't sleep, thinking about this game. I lie in bed at three or four a.m. wishing I could play it right then. Look here; [Skins right guard] Mark May pushes me in the back. I get up. I'm talking to him. I said, 'Don't do that, Mark. You're from Pitt, ha ha.' Lyle yelled at me, 'What's wrong with you?' I said, 'I know this guy.' It makes me sick now. I let him do that. So nice, I was so nice. If May does that again, I'll rip his throat out. Let's not talk about it anymore. It makes me sick."
In the Raiders' Wednesday practice, their first contact of the week, there were near-fights, just as there had been three years ago before they beat the Eagles in Super Bowl XV. It was an omen.
"We ran 22 line drills—offense versus defense," reserve offensive guard Steve Sylvester said. "Usually we win about half. This time we won maybe one. I said, 'God almighty, these guys are ready to play.' Don Mosebar, our rookie guard, got hit above the nose. They had to stitch him. He was bleeding all over the place."
"When we went 11-on-11 it was intense," free safety Vann McElroy said. "I looked over at Millen. You should have seen the look in his eyes. I said, 'Is this for real, or what?' Al Davis was kind of egging us on. He wanted an intense practice, and he got it."
On Thursday there was a fight. Millen vs. Marvin. It was also a set-up, an orchestrated affair. "Sam Boghosian, our offensive line coach, said to me, 'Come in on a blitz and start a fight,' " Millen said. "He told me, 'I want to get something going.' So I did it. I picked on Mickey. I was hoping Shelby Jordan wouldn't pick me up—he's 6'7", 285—but Mickey got me and I started a fight. Sam didn't let the offense in on it. All Mickey knew was that all of a sudden he was fighting for his life. It's childish, I know, but it worked. It livened up the practice."