OAKLAND, Calif — It has been nearly two generations since an Oakland Athletics starting pitching staff comprised of Mike Norris, Rick Langford, Matt Keough, Steve McCatty and Brian Kingman specialized in complete games and quick strikes at Oakland Coliseum.
That pretty much described the Raiders’ performance on the same swatch of skinned infield against the New York Jets during a sun-kissed afternoon of professional football.
The Raiders (2-0) dominated the Jets (0-2) Sunday en route to a 45-20 victory in front of a raucous home-opening crowd. In the end it was an easy win, although there’s a chance fight judge Adelaide Byrd might have scored it differently.
It was a complete game with the aforementioned assortment of quick strikes, two of which occurred during a six-minute interval turning what had been a 21-13 Raiders lead into a 35-13 Raiders lead. The sudden touchdown runs started a lot of people dancing, including Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, who busted multiple moves on the big screens at either end of the creaky but rollicking Coliseum.
The two guys who lit the fuse have a reputation in football munitions.
Versatile wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, whom the Raiders signed in the off-season after he really never lived up to expectations of being a first-round draft pick in Minnesota, lined up at running back and found a landing strip in the middle of the Jets’ defense on a 43-yard touchdown run.
Patterson was a track and field star in high school in South Carolina and junior college in Kansas and, on occasion, with the Vikings. In an October 2013 game against the Packers, he returned a kick 109 yards for a TD, a pro football record that will never be be broken, unless it is broken during a pro football game in Canada.
A few minutes later it was Jalen Richard’s turn.
Applying the crease
Richard, who is dividing Raiders’ featured back duties three ways with Lynch and DeAndre Washington — the trio ran onto the field together when the starting lineups were announced — took a pitch from Derek Carr and went 52 yards as the Jets barely laid a hand on him.
It can be hard to lay hands on Jalen Richard. This is the same guy who went 75 yards for a score the first time he carried the football as a professional last September 11 against the New Orleans Saints.
“I caught the ball and felt somebody rush up the field,” Richard said about the Jets overpursuing the play.
Then the Jets felt him rush down the field.
“It made me come inside. The whole week they (coaches) were telling me to wait rather than get (outside), so I waited and the Jets overflowed and I put my foot in the ground and creased it,” said the second-year pro, who also creased the Jets for a 39-yard gain in the first half after accepting a dump-off pass from Carr and splitting Jets defenders in the open field.
Whereas Richard creased it, Patterson gassed it. He got so far in front of the New York defense on his 43-yarder that he pulled up at the end, as if he had just broken the tape during his sprinter days. One of the Jets nearly hauled him down from behind before the former Tennessee Volunteer ran through the end zone and leaped into the clutches of the Black Hole.
“I jumped up in the crowd — and they tried to steal my football from me,” Patterson said of the dash that turned the game’s complexion. “We did it all this week in practice, and then to get the game, it was unbelievable the way it worked out — just like we did it in practice.”
Good, solid day
By executing the plays the way they were drawn up, the Raiders accumulated 45 points and 410 yards and some other large numbers that will give opponents, starting with the Redskins during Week 3, something to think about.
“We know that we have a lot of talent, a lot of weapons,” Derek Carr said after throwing three TD passes to Michael Crabtree to further emphasize the Raiders’ offensive balance.
Yes, it was only the Jets, and the Jets were pretty much what everybody said they were going in. But the Raiders didn’t let anybody off the hook on Sunday when the score got close.
“Good, solid day,” an effusive (for him) Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. “Offense gets six touchdowns and a field goal out of the 10 series. Explosive plays, no sacks, so good stuff there.”
Great stuff there. Just like those old A’s pitchers.
It was a complete game with quick strikes, the kind that Mike Norris and Rick Langford and the other Oakland pitchers threw long ago. The crowd was raucous, and as the finals seconds ticked off, the pungent smell of cannabis wafted into the press box from the dark green seats below.
It seemed for one glorious day the Raiders belonged to Oakland again. Everybody was buzzing.
Contact Ron Kantowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.