The Raider Defense Is Super
Both clubs brought an air of invincibility into this contest. The Redskins had won 27 of their last 30 games with a blend of crunching strength and surgical finesse. The Raiders were relentless winners, molded over time by feisty owner Al Davis. Although the 'Skins had beaten the Raiders in October, neither team was a clear favorite as they lined up for the opening kickoff.
Five minutes into the game, lightning struck. Derrick Jensen broke through the Washington front wall, blocked Jeff Hayes' punt and covered the ball after it bounced into the endzone. With the clubs still feeling each other out, the Raiders had grabbed a 7-0 lead. The Redskins soon got a break when the Raiders fumbled back a punt, but they squandered the opportunity when Mark Moseley missed a 44-yard field goal try.
As the second quarter progressed, the Washington offense was ineffective against the Raider defense. The heralded "Hogs" were being beaten by the linemen and linebackers from Los Angeles. With his blockers unable to clear a path, John Riggins had slow going on the ground. Forced to the air more than usual, Joe Theismann was thwarted by a strong pass rush and the flypaper coverage of cornerbacks Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes. With the Redskins unable to move the ball, the Raiders scored early in the second period on a three-play, 65 yard drive. Two plays were Jim Plunkett-to-Cliff Branch passes. Midway through the period, the Redskins launched a 13-play drive which culminated in a 24-yard field goal. Although the Raiders still led 14-3, the Redskins seemed to have stemmed the flow of momentum. With 12 seconds left on the first-half clock, Washington had the ball deep in its own territory. Rather than run the clock out or go for a deep pass, the Redskins chose to throw a short sideline pass to Joe Washington. In one stunning motion, linebacker Jack Squirek cut in front of the receiver, grabbed the ball and stepped five yards into the endzone. The play gave Los Angeles a 21-3 halftime lead and a massive psychological boost.
The Redskinscame out for the second half with grim determination, cranking out a touchdown with a 70-yard drive on their first possession. When the Raiders responded with their own TD drive, the ame moved more firmly into their grasp. When Marcus Allen broke away for a 74-yard gallop on the final play of the third period, the Raiders had the game won.