Breaking the plane, Hollas' bid doesn't fly with officials Raiders blame 14 penalties more than denied TD for first loss since September

November 09, 1998|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

It was nearly an hour after the game had ended, and Oakland Raiders quarterback Donald Hollas still hadn't seen the replay. And from his perspective he didn't have to, knowing exactly what happened on his second-quarter sneak, when -- with the ball extended -- he appeared to break the plane of the goal line on a second-down play from the 1-yard line.

"I thought I got it across," Hollas said, later adding "the ball is the only thing that has to cross the goal line."

But the officials said no, that Hollas had not scored what would have been Oakland's first touchdown. In fact, on Hollas' extension the ball was knocked away by Ravens linebacker Jerry Olsavsky, with Oakland's Harvey Williams recovering at the 6 and carrying it back to the 1.

The Raiders had to settle for a field goal, instead of seven points. The four points proved to be key in Oakland's 13-10 loss yesterday, the difference between extending a winning streak to six games and a disappointing defeat.

"We thought he was in, we thought he broke the plane," said Oakland coach Jon Gruden. "But it's not our decision, it's theirs."

Gruden, after watching the replay, tried to plead his case with the officials at halftime.

"They said it was not a touchdown, the ball was wide," Gruden said. "That's the bottom line."

Referee Bob McElwee, speaking to a pool reporter after the game, gave the officials' version of the controversial call.

"No, he did not break the plane," McElwee said. "We had a man on the goal line and our man on the goal line [was] looking down the plane; he did not break the plane with the ball."

End of explanation. And end of complaining from the Raiders (6-3), who had no one to blame but themselves for the team's first loss since a Sept. 20 defeat to the Denver Broncos. A team that has long had a reputation for its aggressive play, the Raiders were perhaps too aggressive as they were whistled for 14 penalties that cost them 98 yards.

"You're not going to win with 14 penalties," Gruden said. "With five or six of them on the first play of the series, that's not good.

"When you rough the passer [twice, one leading to a Ravens field goal], you prolong scoring drives," Gruden added. "Not good. We cannot have that many penalties and expect to win in this league. We've stated that and that's obvious."

Oakland suffered a setback when quarterback Jeff George, on the game's opening series, reinjured the groin that had forced him to miss the three previous games.

Hollas, who had performed well as the starter, completed 17 of 26 passes for 249 yards. But despite the fact that tight end Rickey Dudley (six catches, 105 yards) and wide receiver James Jett (five catches, 92 yards -- mostly against Duane Starks) had big games, Hollas was hurt when his first pass was intercepted by Rod Woodson and returned for a first-quarter touchdown.

However, no one in the Oakland locker room was pointing fingers at Hollas. Or the officials. What ended the Raiders' winning streak was an overall poor effort.

"We can't afford to sit here and moan about the fact we lost to Baltimore," said defensive tackle Darrell Russell. "I'm not going to sit here and say we beat ourselves, but we gave Baltimore a lot of chances. We just have to bounce back."

Pub Date: 11/09/98

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