Revisiting the 1980 Oakland Raiders entering Wild Card Weekend
By Brad Weiss
Raiders 1980 regular season
The 1980 Raiders season brought about a lot of change, as the team traded away the face of the franchise, Ken Stabler, to the Houston Oilers for Dan Pastorini. Before the season, Al Davis had threatened that he was going to move the team to Los Angeles, something that became reality later on, but the team was in Oakland for this campaign.
Pastorini took over for Stabler at quarterback, but when he went down with an injury, the team decided to turn to Jim Plunkett, and not rookie Marc Wilson. That proved to be a great decision, as while Plunkett struggled early, he would lead the team to a historic run to the playoffs, as the team won nine of their last 11 games.
The 1980 squad was led by a punishing defense, an electric wideout in Cliff Branch, and one of the greatest defensive backs of all-time in Lester Hayes. On offense, the tandem of Marc van Eeghen and Kenny King rushed for over 1500 yards combined, and Branch and Bob Chandler handled most of the duties in the passing game, along with their talented tight ends.
Upfront, the Raiders had an incredible offensive line, so when the team made it to the playoffs as a Wild Card team, nobody wanted to draw that straw.
Their opportunistic defense hauled in 35 interceptions, led by Hayes with 13, and the linebacker group was one of the best in team history. When it came time for the playoffs, this was a team that was locked and loaded.