Misfiring QB ignites Eagles Marinovich's interceptions hurt Raiders in 31-10 loss

November 09, 1992|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- A struggling offense prompted Philadelphia Eagles coach Rich Kotite to start Jim McMahon ahead of Randall Cunningham at quarterback. But while McMahon was impressive his first start of the season yesterday against the Los Angeles Raiders, a quarterback who played for less than a half provided the Eagles with their biggest spark.

That was the Raiders' second-year man, Todd Marinovich. His three interceptions supplied a confidence boost for the Philadelphia defense that dominated yesterday's 31-10 win before a crowd of 65,388 at Veterans Stadium.

The Eagles (6-3) had lost three of their previous four games. The 31 points tied Philadelphia's biggest output of the season and helped the team improve to 5-0 at home.

"I thought it was a heck of a team effort from the standpoint of intensity," Kotite said. "From the standpoint of four quarters and 60 minutes, the guys did a heck of a job."

In a game that, to the media and many fans, seemed a subplot to the question of who should be the Eagles quarterback, the Philadelphia defense set the tone early by picking off a Marinovich pass on the game's fifth play from scrimmage.

When the former USC standout left the game for good after being intercepted by cornerback John Booty with eight minutes left in the first half, the defensive players were disappointed.

"We weren't surprised that he was pulled because he wasn't having one of his best days," said safety Wes Hopkins, who also picked off a Marinovich pass in the second quarter. "When we were coming off the field [after Marinovich's final interception], we were saying, 'We hope he stays in.' "

Marinovich, a left-hander who had completed more than 50 percent of his passes before the game, completed three of 10 for 25 yards. His replacement, former Washington Redskins quarterback Jay Schroeder, fared slightly better, completing 11 of 27 for 127 yards and one touchdown. Schroeder was intercepted once.

Overall, the Raiders, with former All-Pro running backs Eric Dickerson and Marcus Allen in the backfield, managed 96 yards on the ground. The Raiders were held to 221 yards total offense and crossed midfield four times in 14 possessions.

"We definitely needed this one," Hopkins said. "We finally got one where we could have some fun."

Also having fun was the Philadelphia offense, which, after scoring 30 or more points in three of its first four games, averaged 11.2 points during the past four. McMahon, who relieved Cunningham in the 20-10 loss at Dallas last week, completed 12 of 24 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown.

"I just wanted to come out of this game 6-3, and that's what I did," McMahon said. "Offensively, we did some things out there pretty good."

McMahon got off to a slow start, but the offense benefited from good field position gained by the defense.

Marinovich's second interception by Hopkins led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Herschel Walker that gave the Eagles a 10-0 lead with 11:22 left in the second quarter.

After a Los Angeles field goal made it 10-3, McMahon connected with Fred Barnett for a 42-yard scoring pass just before the half for a 17-3 lead.

tTC Philadelphia running back Heath Sherman (nine carries, 81 yards) scored on a 30-yard run midway through the third quarter to make it 24-3.

A 2-yard run by Walker in the fourth quarter increased the lead to 31-3. Schroeder threw a 6-yard pass to Tim Brown with 1:55 left in the game to finish the scoring.

The loss was the second straight for Los Angeles, which had a three-game winning streak before a 15-point loss to Dallas Oct. 25.

"We had trouble running the ball. This is a tough defense to run against," said Los Angeles coach Art Shell. "For whatever reason, we didn't make the plays. It was either the line breaking down, receivers dropping balls and a couple of other things."

L The "other things" probably included the play of Marinovich.

"He just wasn't making the plays," Shell said of his switch in quarterbacks. "He threw a couple of balls that could have been intercepted and [three] that were intercepted. I just want to win football games, no matter who is playing. I thought at the time that we should go with [Schroeder]."

On the Philadelphia side of the field, the decision of which quarterback to go with is sparking controversy. McMahon's strong performance yesterday will probably have radio talk-show callers clamoring for a repeat performance. But McMahon won't start against Green Bay next week because of Kotite's promise to start Cunningham regardless of what happened yesterday.

"It's something I can't worry about," McMahon said. "It's the coach's decision, and I just go out and get a win. Unfortunately, I guess I'll be sitting next week, but I can't worry about that."

Cunningham, who expressed his disappointment in being sat down for a game, did say that he enjoyed the outcome.

"I wanted to play -- I'll tell you that now -- but the situation came out positive," said Cunningham, who never removed his coat on the sideline yesterday. "We won, and that's what we wanted to do. If we're going to win when I'm in, great. If we win when I'm

out, great. We've just got to go out and win."

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