To close an era, Raiders dedicate a game to Allen Running back bows out in style

December 27, 1992|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Marcus Allen counted down an era. The Los Angeles Raiders counted out a season.

Drawing inspiration from Allen, their forgotten tailback, and Vince Evans, their 37-year-old quarterbacking relic, the Raiders wrote an unlikely epitaph to a dark year in franchise history yesterday.

They closed out a 7-9 season with a 21-20 upset of the Washington Redskins at RFK Stadium that proved to be a fitting exclamation point for Allen's 11-year career with the club.

At odds with owner Al Davis, Allen, 32, will play in a different uniform next year, assuming free agency is truly around the corner in the NFL.

"I had a countdown all week," Allen said. "Last day in the locker room. Last day in pads. Last plane flight. . . . It hit me on the sidelines.

"The first time I looked [at the clock], there was 3:15 left. I said, 'I've got 3:15 to go, man.' I told Nap [Napoleon McCallum] that. I was thinking how much I'll miss these guys and what's going on with them."

Allen ended the game the same way he started it -- with tears in his eyes. The pre-game flood came after defensive end Greg Townsend told him the players would dedicate this game to him. The post-game cry came with the realization his long vigil was finally over.

In between, Allen made a pretty good audition tape for teams that might be interested. He converted three big third-down plays for the Raiders, including an 8-yard run on third-and-one from the Los Angeles 29 to keep the winning drive going. It was a typical Allen burst. He started outside, then cut back through the defense for the first down.

Reduced to a third-down back in recent years, Allen averaged TC yards on five attempts against the Redskins. He also caught four passes for 37 yards.

On a day when a lot of Raiders -- not just Allen -- were saying their goodbyes, Evans, a 13-year veteran, was saying hello.

He replaced starting quarterback Jay Schroeder on the Raiders' last possession of the first half after Schroeder reinjured his right shoulder. Evans made the most of his opportunity, passing for 214 yards and two touchdowns.

"Vince Evans was incredible," said wide receiver Tim Brown. "He almost made the offensive line mad, telling them to get to the huddle quicker. They said they were trying, but they were tired."

Evans delivered the big play for the Raiders. There was a 41-yard touchdown pass to Alexander Wright in the third quarter to give the Raiders a 7-3 lead. There was a 50-yarder to Willie Gault to beat a Redskins secondary that had shut down the deep pass all day. And there was a 3-yard strike to Brown to beat a Redskins blitz with 13 seconds left. That wiped out Washington's 20-14 lead.

Gault's catch was his only one of the day but came at the right time, moments after Allen had run for a first down on the final drive. Gault got behind cornerback Darrell Green and safety Danny Copeland for his catch at the Washington 8.

"That safety had been squatting on Timmy," Evans said. "I hit Timmy on a hook route earlier, and the safety was getting there early. We figured nobody was up top [covering deep]."

From first-and-goal at the 8, the Raiders ran Nick Bell twice for 5 yards and called their final timeout with 21 seconds left.

On third down from the 3, Evans tried to hit Ethan Horton in the end zone. But the Redskins blitzed and linebacker Wilber Marshall broke up the pass.

On fourth down, in the face of another blitz, Evans found Brown slanting in from the right side for the touchdown.

"This can't wash away what happened when we're going home," Brown said. "A couple of guys were saying it's such a bittersweet feeling. I know it's the last time I'll play with a guy like Marcus Allen."

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