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

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3. The Sea of Hands

Ah, Kenny Stabler. Just like he did in the 1970’s, The Snake has managed to slither his way to another achievement in this list. December 21st, 1974. The Raiders, as they often do, find themselves on their last legs against the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Oakland.

With the winner of the game likely expected to make the Super Bowl, pundits referred to this contest at the time as “Super Bowl Eight and a Half”. Both expectations and nerves alike were at roaring levels in the lead up to this epic contest. It made for an intense matchup all the way down to the wire.

Stabler led the Raiders on a desperate drive with two minutes remaining and trailing 26-21. 30 seconds remained when, having used their final timeout, Stabler snapped the ball and looked for an option in the end zone. Scanning and scanning for what felt like an eternity, Stabler rolled out to his left, as he did so he was being hunted down relentlessly by Miami defensive end Vern Den Herder. Den Herder tugged at the snake, bringing Kenny slowly cascading towards the green turf.

In a last second heave of the football that was more like a shootout than a pass, Stabler somehow found running back Clarence Davis in the back corner of the end zone. Amidst a swarm of Miami defenders, Davis miraculously managed to corral the football, fighting off the clutches of multiple defenders like some football themed zombie apocalypse. With the ball secured, Davis fell onto the turf, somehow, against all odds, coming down with a logic defying game-winning touchdown catch.

The subsequent footage of the play is one of the most played moments in Raiders history, leaving behind a legacy of not only a playoff finish for the ages, but a catch for the ages.

2. Super Bowl XV

Jim Plunkett makes for one of the greatest comeback stories in NFL history. A former number one overall draft pick of the New England patriots, Plunkett’s career was in shambles after being traded for a bounty of picks to San Francisco in 1977 and failing to live up to the hype.

Davis signed Plunkett as a backup in 1978, and he was thrust into the starting position in 1980 when Dan Pastorini broke his leg. Plunkett went on to lead the Raiders to the playoffs that season as well as a subsequent victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV. Plunkett also took home the award for Super Bowl MVP.

The victory was memorable for other reasons as well. Tom Flores became the first minority head coach in professional football to win a Super Bowl — a monumental achievement in the annals of American sports.

Furthermore, his coaching philosophy leading up to the game was the subject of much attention. His Eagles counterpart Dick Vermeil was a strong disciplinarian, imposing strict rules on his players when they arrived in New Orleans for the game. Flores on the other hand, allowed his players a respectable amount of freedom and recreation in the Big Easy, and many players from the other 30 teams believed that their coaches would adopt the approach of whichever coach won.

The game itself was incredibly memorable, and not just for Plunkett’s masterful MVP performance. Linebacker Rod Martin recorded a Super Bowl record three interceptions, and Plunkett and running back kenny King combined for another Super Bowl record with an 80-yard strike for a touchdown. The Raiders were also the first ever Wild Card team to win a Super Bowl, making for an outstanding jewell in the crown of the franchise’s history.

1. Super Bowl XI

And so at last, we come to the greatest moment in the history of the Oakland Raiders. Super Bowl XI. This is the game that directly succeeded number five on this list, and it’s number one here for good reason.

The Oakland Raiders, under legendary head coach John Madden, advanced to Super Bowl XI at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena California on the 9th of January,1977. To this day, this the only Super Bowl considered to be somewhat of a home field advantage for one of the teams.

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Super Bowl XI is significant first and foremost because it was the first Super Bowl Championship for the Oakland Raiders. Even more importantly, the game served to cement the legacies of some of the most famous figures in the history of the Silver and Black.

John Madden and Ken Stabler were both critiqued as larger than life figures who despite their best efforts, just “couldn’t win the big one.” The Raiders triumph in Super Bowl XI forever etched their names into the annals of NFL lore with the team’s memorable trouncing of the Minnesota Vikings to the tune of 32-14.

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As Bill King described it during his broadcast ” Jasicha Heifetz never played the violin with more dexterity than Kenny Stabler is playing the Minnesota defense.