An Ode to Oakland: The Top Ten Moments in Oakland Raiders History

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6. The Holy Roller

I love this moment for one sole reason — Ken Stabler’s response regarding the play. Though to be fair, it probably has the best name of any famous NFL play. Yes, even the one we won’t mention with Franco Harris.

The Raiders met the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on September 10, 1978. Trailing 20-14 with just seconds remaining, Raiders legend Ken “The Snake” Stabler rolled left, and was hit and sacked by Chargers linebacker Woodrow Lowe on the 24-yard line.

The ball flew out of Stabler’s grasp, rolling, bumping and bouncing its way towards the end zone in a trail of dust. Raiders running back Pete Banaszak appeared to attempt to recover the ball, but instead propelled it further towards the end zone. (Nice job, Pete).

Raiders tight end Dave Casper then attempted (probably an act, let’s be honest) to pick up the ball on about the 5-yard line, only to splutter, fumble, even kick and roll the ball across the goal line before flopping on top of it. Officials rushed around Casper, arms pointed straight into the air for a touchdown, with Chargers players and coaches livid at the decision.

An immensely controversial play at the time and even still today, the Holy Roller changed the rules regarding offensive fumble recoveries in the end zone. Bill King recorded one of the most delightful snippets of sports commentary of the last hundred years when he declared:

"“The Oakland Raiders have scored on the most zany, unbelievable..impossible dream of play!…Madden is on the field, he wants to know if it’s real! They said yes, get your big butt out of here! He does!…There’s nothing real in the world anymore!”"

Oh and that Stabler quote? When asked by Bill King if he fumbled deliberately Stabler is supposed to have said “You bet your ass I did!”

5. 1976 AFC Championship Game

The Raiders and Steelers shared a fierce rivalry in the 1970s, meeting in multiple AFC championship games. In fact, this was the third time n a row the two teams had done so, with Pittsburgh winning the first two times. To this point, the Steelers had typically gotten the best of the Raiders.

Their incredible contests consisted of memorable plays such as the immaculate reception (which we won’t talk about). Not to mention, one particular moment that saw Raiders safety Jack Tatum clothesline Pittsburgh receiver Lynn Swann, knocking him out of the game. The latter of these causing Steelers coach Chuck Noll to label the Raiders “criminals.”

The 1976 AFC Championship game featured a weakened Steelers team, without the presence of future Hall of Fame Franco Harris. Whilst certainly not a critical factor, the Raiders absolutely dominated the Steelers. The defensive line shut down the Pittsburgh running game and bruised Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw all game long.

With a final score of 24-7 and Oakland spectators mobbing the field, it was a coming of age moment for the Silver and Black. The Raiders were headed to their first Super Bowl.

"In the words of linebacker Phil Villapiano: “The Steelers got what they deserved, a nice butt kicking.”"

4. Ghost to the Post

Tight end Dave Casper gets another mention in this list for a memorable Christmas Eve Miracle in 1977. Defending their Super Bowl title from the year before, the Raiders were battling against the Baltimore Colts at Memorial Stadium. After a sluggish first half, both teams exploded in the second, with multiple lead changes.

On third and long, less than a minute remaining, offensive coordinator Tom Flores called for a play that would normally go to one of the receivers, but told Stabler to keep an eye on Casper, whose route designated he run towards the goal post, just in case.

After the snap and seeing an opportunity, Stabler threw up a prayer of a pass, and a rather inaccurate one. In a moment of sheer brilliance, Casper made one of the all-time greatest adjustments to the ball, coming back the other way for a ridiculous grab to set up the game tying field goal.

The Raiders would go on to win in double overtime in the fifth longest NFL game in history. Casper himself recalled that he didn’t think he had caught a single pass running that play all season long. Casper would go on to catch the game winning touchdown in that double overtime period to conclude an all time classic game.