Raiders most surprising seasons by decade, 1960-2010s
The 1980 Oakland Raiders
Coming off back-to-back nine-win seasons, the Oakland Raiders went into the new decade on a mission after missing out on the playoffs twice to close a dominant decade in the 1970s. In Tom Flores‘ second season as head coach, the Raiders won 11 games, finishing second in the AFC West, and earning a Wild Card spot.
Thanks to dominant rushing by Kenny King and Mark Van Eeghen, as well as a dynamic pass-catching duo at wideout in Bob Chandler and Cliff Branch, the offense was a juggernaut with Jim Plunkett at the helm. Plunkett took over for the injured Dan Pastorini, who came over in a trade with the Houston Oilers for Raiders legend Ken Stabler, and led the team on a magical playoff run.
The Raiders beat Stabler and the Oilers in the Wild Card round, before absolutely stunning the Cleveland Browns on the road in the Divisional Round, 14-12. After a shootout victory against the San Diego Chargers, who won the AFC West, the Raiders took on Philadelphia in the Super Bowl, and dominated from the outset.
With the win, the Raiders became the first Wild Card team to win the Super Bowl, as Plunkett took home the Most Valuable Player award. Rod Martin had three interceptions in that game, which was a common theme all season, as the defense was very opportunistic, led by Lester Hayes, who had 13 interceptions in the regular season.