Defensive end Lyle Alzado played a big role as the Browns nearly defeated the Oakland Raiders in the 1980 AFC divisional playoffs.
Two years later, Alzado once again played a big role as the Los Angeles Raiders defeated the Browns, 27-10, in the 1982 wild-card playoffs on Jan. 8, 1983 at Memorial Coliseum.
Alzado, traded to the Raiders with running back Greg Pruitt after the 1981 season, forced a fumble deep in Los Angeles territory to thwart a Browns drive at the start of the second half. The Raiders, clinging to a 13-10 lead at the time, took that huge shift in momentum and drove 89 yards for a touchdown on a three-yard run by Marcus Allen.
So just like that, instead of possibly taking the lead with a touchdown or at least tying the game with a field goal, the Browns found themselves down, 20-10. They never recovered.
Frank Hawkins added a one-yard score in the fourth quarter to push the advantage to 27-10 and cement the win for the Raiders, who were in their first year in Los Angeles after having spent their first 12 seasons in Oakland.
Browns quarterback Paul McDonald performed pretty well, throwing for 281 yards and a touchdown on 18-of-37 passing. A third-year pro who had played collegiately in Los Angeles at USC, McDonald took over as the starter late in the year with the team on a three-game losing streak. He helped lead the Browns to two wins in their final three contests to secure a playoff berth with a 4-5 record in the strike-shortened season.
But as good as McDonald was that day, the Raiders’ Jim Plunkett was even better. Yes, he was intercepted twice by safety Clarence Scott and cornerback Hanford Dixon, but he still ended up passing for a career-high 386 yards. Plunkett’s passing, along with the fact the Raiders rushed for 140 yards, 84 more than the Browns, was the offensive complement to Alzado’s huge defensive play.
Chris Bahr booted a 27-yard field goal to give the Raiders a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, then the Browns tied it in the second quarter when his brother, Matt, boomed a 52-yarder.
Both teams scored a touchdown before halftime, Allen on a two-yard run and wide receiver Ricky Feacher on a 43-yard pass from McDonald, to keep the game tied, 10-10.
Then the Raiders added another Chris Bahr field goal of 37 yards to give the Raiders the lead for good, 13-10, at the break, and Alzado took it from there.
Feacher, in his first season as a starter after taking over for the retired Reggie Rucker, had a big game overall with four receptions for 124 yards. Tight end Ozzie Newsome also had four catches, as did rookie Dwight Walker, who had been converted to wide receiver from running back.
Steve Cox did his best to help the Browns’ cause by altering field position, averaging 48.5 yards on six punts.
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