Raiders Still Can't Win Without Hostetler; Still Drawing Penalties
ANNE M. PETERSON
Sep. 03, 1996
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) _ The specter of last season still hangs over the Oakland Raiders.
After their season-opener against the Baltimore Ravens, it's clear the Raiders are still hurting without quarterback Jeff Hostetler and are still drawing too many penalties.
And they're still losing.
The Raiders had a 14-7 lead at halftime Sunday, but fell apart in a 19-14 loss, their seventh straight defeat.
``To be honest, we had a chance to win that game. We were there,'' said Billy Joe Hobert, who started in place of Hostetler. ``If you recall last year _ not that I really want to go back _ those last six games we weren't really into them, except the Denver one.
``We're going to bounce back.''
Hobert was 17-of-26 for 192 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions while Hostetler stood on the sidelines recovering from a right knee injury.
As last season drew to a disappointing close, Hobert started twice as Hostetler dealt with a shoulder injury.
``I learned quite a bit during the game. I'm sure I'll use it down the road, but I can't say that I've evolved into something that I wasn't already _ especially when you lose a game. How do you evolve?'' Hobert said Monday after reflecting on his experience.
Hobert's key error came in the third quarter, when a pass to Tim Brown was intercepted by Baltimore's Antonio Langham. His timing appeared off from that moment on.
``Unfortunately in the second half, when it wasn't going as well, he was trying to make up. I think he tried to force some things and just couldn't find the formula for a big play,'' coach Mike White said.
Whether Hostetler comes back for next week's game at Kansas City is still uncertain. White said a decision would be made Wednesday.
``He's pretty close to being ready, in fact I think he's anxious to play. But that decision will be made on Wednesday when he and I sit down,'' White said Monday.
That the Raiders are facing the Chiefs could factor into the decision.
``If there's any reluctance, or any concern on his part, then I think that Kansas City has to be part of the equation,'' White said.
Hobert, who will start if Hostetler is not ready, is all but convinced the Chiefs will influence the choice.
``It wouldn't surprise me if he stepped up this week and played against KC. (They are) big rivals. They hate us, we hate them. It wouldn't surprise me one bit to see him up there,'' Hobert said.
Despite the Raiders' apparent inability to win with Hobert at the helm, his performance _ in only his third NFL start _ wasn't entirely to blame for Sunday's loss.
The defense appeared run down in the second half against the Ravens' no-huddle offense. Meanwhile, the Raiders' offense failed to convert on key plays.
``We have to credit Baltimore in that no-huddle,'' White said. ``The no-huddle offense, well executed, is tough to stop. It puts the quarterback in the driver's seat, it puts your defense on its heels, it negates the pass rush _ not through fatigue, just the fact that it's a constant motion.''
Then there were the penalties. The Raiders had 12, all but two for illegal procedure or offsides. One allowed the Ravens to continue the drive they used to run out the clock.
The Raiders set the NFL record for penalties in 1994 with 156. Last year, they tied for most in the league with 134.
During the preseason, White continually pressed his team to cut down on the penalties _ something that apparently hasn't sunk in yet.
``I'm extremely disappointed in the defensive offsides,'' White said. ``Maybe we were a little tired, but there are no excuses. That has to be rectified.''