Rhodes didn't even have the videotape to turn to for solace, for explanations last night.
Raiders 48, Eagles 17.
Oh yeah, it was once 17-0, Eagles, with 4:16 left in the first quarter. The Raiders won the final three quarters, 48-0. If you're keeping track, that's Opponents 75, Eagles 14, after the opening quarter the last two games.
The hurt and embarrassment was noticeable everywhere. The Eagles locker room was funereal. Players not commenting outnumbered those giving interviews, 5-1. Many players in the process of dressing and getting the heck away from their smelly mess ASAP simply shook their heads when approached.
Ricky Watters, loser of another critical fumble, ignored a school of his favorite sharks at his locker. He couldn't even do his own no-commenting, leaving that to a public relations assistant. In an ugly postgame atmosphere, one Eagle, guard Theo Adams, wanted a piece of a mouthy reporter near Watters's locker.
On the other side of the horse stall that Raiders boss Al Davis calls a visitors locker room, Rhodes, owner Jeffery Lurie and aides stood for roughly a half-hour in the coaches dressing area with a play-by-play sheet and the final statistics in hand. It was hard to determine whether they were seeking answers or consoling one another.
Make that 48 straight Raiders points, after a 17-0 Eagles lead. Forty- eight. Straight. Points. Four. Eight. Unanswered.
It has been almost 23 years since an Eagles team was pillaged for more points than Oakland scored yesterday. On Nov. 26, 1972, the New York Giants pounded Philly, 62-10, at Yankee Stadium.
You might have to go back to that date to find the last time more unanswered were scored on the Eagles. The 31-point deficit marked the worst Eagles defeat since a 35-3 loss to Chicago in October 1987.
Take your worst-case scenario and multiply it by five and you might be close to how bad it was here before 48,875 sun-drenched, Raiders fans who couldn't go for a refill without missing an Oakland touchdown. That upset them more than anything.
It can't get much worse when the head coach isn't sure where to begin. The Eagles are a leaking dike right now and Rhodes doesn't have enough fingers with which to plug all the holes.
"This was a big step back to our football team," Rhodes said.
It was more like a running broad jump in reverse, but why quibble?
* The Eagles played poorly after falling behind, without the apparent desire - and certainly not the toughness - to mount anything close to a comeback. This team needs some nasty boys and it needs them quickly.
"This was a tough loss, an embarrassing loss, because they really,
physically whipped our rear ends," Rhodes said.
* Oakland pushed and shoved the Eagles' defenders around like spaghetti mops, racking up 439 net yards, and the Raiders didn't even play very well. The Eagles' offense - guilty of three lost fumbles (of four) and two interceptions - kept the Raiders' defense on the field more than 2 1/2 minutes just twice after the first quarter. The Eagles' longest drive after a 73-yard, 10-play touchdown game-opener covered 50 yards and got them nothing. By then, Randall Cunningham had been pulled and Rodney Peete was running the show in what amounted to garbage time.
Four Eagles possessions lasted 90 seconds or less. One lasted 16 seconds (one play), another 38 seconds (one play, Peete interception), another 54 seconds (lost fumble).
* Jeff Hostetler torched the Birds' understaffed (Michael Zordich did not
dress) and underequipped secondary for 272 passing yards on 22-for-32 target practice to a slew of wide-open receivers running basic hooks and slant routes. "Our pass defense wasn't even there," Rhodes said. Daryl Hobbs, owner of five receptions for 66 yards in the Raiders' first three games, caught seven for 135, including a 54-yard touchdown. Tim Brown - him, you've heard of - grabbed five for 74 yards. If Rhodes didn't think he had a serious problem with his pass rush and coverage people in the first three weeks, he knows now. So do the rest of the NFL's offensive coordinators.
The Raiders ran off 70 plays and did not punt once. They scored on six of their 10 offensive possessions before running out the clock at the end.
"We needed to go three-and-out and get these guys stopped," Rhodes said. ''We didn't get that done all day. When you don't get off the field, you have problems. We didn't do that all day.
"We could not get off the field. Our pass defense . . . I don't know what in the hell was going on . . . I know one thing, all they were were hook routes and things like that. That's the first time things like this showed up. That's why it's a big concern, because we put some things on film that will follow us for the next four, five weeks if we don't get it corrected."
* The Eagles' offensive line - especially tackles Barrett Brooks and Antone Davis - played turnstiles for pass rushers going after both Cunningham and Peete, who relieved No. 12 for the Birds' final possession of the third quarter. Has-beens Pat Swilling (three sacks) and backup Aundray Bruce (two) had their careers revived in one afternoon, combining for five of Oakland's seven sacks.
"Physically, they just handled our offensive line," Rhodes said. "Just handled them."
Rhodes went to Peete after Cunningham began to show signs of being affected by the beating he was taking from the Raiders' rush. He was 2-for-5 for 8 yards in the third quarter (11-for-19 overall, 102 yards, interception). After Cunningham was sacked and stripped by Anthony Smith, Rhodes went to the bullpen. "Just trying to get a spark," Rhodes said. "We were sputtering on offense, weren't getting things done, and I was just looking for a spark."
In a revealing postgame statement, Rhodes for the first time did not respond to a question by saying that Cunningham remains his starter. "I'll reserve everything until I get a chance to talk to everybody," he said.
Oh? Honestly, it absolutely did not matter who was quarterbacking the Eagles yesterday.
Defensive tackle Chester McGlockton fell on Cunningham's fumble and - of course - the Raiders took it to the nearest end zone in just six plays to make it 27-17. That was plenty of padding for the Raiders, considering the inept Eagles offense, which netted just 236 yards, 129 passing for an anemic average gain of 3.1 yards per pass play.
How bad did it get? Vince Evans, 40, mopped up and beat the Birds secondary for a 54-yard touchdown to Hobbs with 3:11 left.
"In 12 years of playing, this hits rock bottom for me," Eagles veteran tight end Ed West said. "We just need to learn that once we get a team down, we have to put them away. And I think we have the guys to do it. We've just got to come together and establish that killer-type attitude and put teams away instead of playing one quarter.
"The second quarter we started falling off . . . and the second half . . . we didn't . . . we didn't do anything. They came out for the second half ready to play. I think we came out, some of us, thinking they were going to give the game to us."
A Watters fumble left the Birds reeling for a second straight week heading into halftime. Rather than sit on a 17-10 lead following an impressive 81- yard Oakland touchdown drive, Rhodes did the right thing and played, even though the Birds were buried inside their 20.
On first down, the call was a safe one, a screen to Watters in the left flat. The problem was a familiar one. It was poorly executed. Offensive linemen were late getting outside to block. The instant Watters caught Cunningham's dumpoff, he was rocked by free safety Eddie Anderson and spit it up. Austin Robbins scooped it and jogged the 6 yards into the end zone with 1:37 left in the half.
The Eagles never were seen again.
"We felt we had a shot to try to move the football," said Rhodes, who sat on the ball in a similar situation a week ago. "They read the screen pretty well on us and they knocked the ball loose."
Asked if last week's controversy influenced his decision, Rhodes didn't hesitate. "No, not at all," he said. "Again, when I make a decision to do something I don't let people make decisions for me. This is what we wanted to try and do. We wanted to move the football."
Even the players who were talking to the media had trouble suggesting where Rhodes should begin addressing problem areas today.
"When it goes wrong like this, you start everywhere," guard Guy McIntyre said. "Everywhere. There's not one particular place to start. We all start with ourself and figure out, what can I do? What didn't I do? What can I do? And what will I do? And go from there. That's all there is right now."