1976 squad named best Raiders team of the Super Bowl era
Looking back at the 1976 Oakland Raiders
Coming off those three straight AFC title game losses, the Raiders were obviously an elite team at the time. They had Hall of Famers on both sides of the ball, and after dominating during the regular season, posting a 13-1 record, they were ready to finally get to the top of the mountain during the playoffs.
Their first matchup came in the Divisional Round against the New England Patriots, the team that gave them their only blemish during the regular season. The Pats embarrassed the Raiders 48-17 during the regular season, and looked to be putting an end to the Silver and Black’s playoff hopes, as they were up 11 heading into the fourth quarter.
The only problem was, the Raiders had Snake, who sealed the game with a one-yard touchdown run with 0:14 seconds left in the game. From there, the Raiders would take on the Steelers in the AFC title game, taking control of the game in the second half, and cruising to a stunning 24-7 victory as the underdog.
In the Super Bowl, they dominated from the outset against the Vikings, and the game was capped off by Willie Brown‘s 75-yard touchdown return of an interception. The win gave the Raiders their first Super Bowl win, and would set them on a path that would see them win two more over the next seven seasons.
That 1976 team was special, featuring guys like Gene Upshaw, Art Shell, Phil Villapiano, Stabler, Biletnikoff, Cliff Branch, Jack Tatum and Mark Van Eeghen to name a few. Branch and Dave Casper combined to haul in 22 of Stabler’s 27 touchdown passes, and Snake was honored with the Bert Bell Award, given out by the Maxwell Football Club to the best player in the NFL.