The Raiders hosted the Dallas Texans on a cool, breezy Friday night at Kezar Stadium. The Texans were coached by Hank Stram, last seen as an assistant at the University of Miami, and were led on the field by quarterback Cotton Davidson, who had taken the field briefly with the Baltimore Colts in the mid 1950s. The Texans had gone through the preseason with a perfect 6-0 record, but lost to the Chargers in their season opener, 21-20.
Raider team officials were hoping for a crowd approaching 15,000 in number, but just over 8,000 showed up, to their disappointment. Those who came saw two offenses that didn’t show much in the early going. The Texans did manage to take advantage of good field position following a short Wayne Crow punt, turning it into a 28 yard field goal by Jack Spikes, but it wasn’t until the end of the first quarter that either team showed some fire. It was Dallas, again, who put together a series of big plays that culminated in a 17-yard touchdown pass from Davidson to tight end Max Boydston on the last play of the period.
Meanwhile, the Raider offense, led by Tom Flores, was so ineffective that Eddie Erdelatz pulled his starter in favor of Babe Parilli after about ten minutes of play. Down by ten to open the second quarter, Parilli repaid his coach’s confidence by connecting with Tony Teresa from 41 yards out to score on the fifth play of the drive. The Raider resurgence didn’t last long. On his next drive Parilli threw an interception to Johnny Bookman, one of five Dallas thefts on the day, and the Texans promptly marched down the field to score on a 15-yard Spikes run. Parilli made up for his error in some small measure by getting his team close enough for Larry Barnes to kick a 33-yarder on the next drive to close it to 17-10. Oakland had one more shot just before the gun, but Barnes’ 51-yard attempt was blocked and the half ended with the Raiders down by seven.
In the third quarter, both offenses lapsed back into impotence. Flores came back into the game to start the period, but Erdelatz didn’t wait long before putting Parilli back out there, this time for good. The Dallas offense put together the only decent drive of the quarter, stalling out at the Raider ten. Spikes connected on his second field goal, from 17 yards out, and the Texans led by 20-10 when the fourth quarter began.
So far, the Raiders had played respectably and stayed within striking distance, but the Texans soon put an end to their dreams, with a pair of touchdown drives to open the quarter. Johnny Robinson scored the first time on a 25-yard reception and he scored the next one, too, this time on a 5 yard sprint around the left end.
Down 34-10, the Raiders could only play out the string. The team fought gamely, but they didn’t score again until, with just over a minute to go, Parilli connected with JD Smith from 11 yards out. Oakland’s two-point conversion attempt failed and the game ended in a 34-16 win for Dallas.
Assessing the numbers afterward, everything pointed Dallas’ way. For the second straight week, the Raiders’ defense showed its weakness. The Texans’ three-headed backfield monster of Spikes, Robinson, and Abner Haynes ripped Oakland for 205 yards on the ground and Davidson put together an efficient day in the air, completing 14 of 25 for 196 yards with no interceptions.
Meanwhile, the Raiders improved their ground game a bit, getting over the 100 yard mark for the first time, but their passing game was erratic, if not abysmal. Oakland quarterbacks completed over half their passes, including five to Teresa who netted 99 yards, but they also threw five picks, two to Bookman, and were sacked five times, including losses of 17 and 21 yards by Parilli.
Despite being clearly outclassed by the Texans, the Raider players still had a champion in Erdelatz. “I don’t want any of you men to walk out of here tonight with our heads down,” he told his team in the locker room afterward, “You did a fine job, the way you hung in there to the very end. The season is just beginning and we’ll come back before it’s over.” Later, to reporters, he called their performance “a real good team effort.”
The Raiders came out of the game reporting no significant injuries, but a couple of position battles came to the fore, most notably at quarterback. It’s not clear, on balance, that Parilli outplayed Flores. Parilli certainly provided higher highs, but he had lower lows as well. Still, Flores matched Parilli’s interception total of two and there was talk that Parilli might well start in the rematch against the Oilers next weekend in Houston.
There was also competition between Smith and Billy Lott for the fullback spot. For the second week in a row, Lott had an uninspiring performance. Meanwhile, newcomer Smith led the team in rushing with 41 yards on seven carries and scored one of their two touchdowns. At the moment it looked like there was enough playing time for both of them, but it was a situation worth keeping tabs on.
If there was a up note, it was that the 0-2 Raiders now had nine days to prepare for the Oilers, who were playing the Chargers at home on Sunday. The Texans, now 1-1, would meet those same Chargers in Dallas a week from Sunday, a rematch of their season opener.
Hayward Daily Review
Official American Football League gamebook
Pro Football Reference
San Mateo Times