The Las Vegas Raiders will try to avoid going to 0-4 for the first time since the 2014 season when they play host to their longtime rivals, the Denver Broncos, on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
The Raiders and Broncos, both in of the AFC West, have been playing twice every season since they were charter members of the American Football League in 1960, and the Silver and Black hold a 69-52-4 lead in the series, including four victories in row, including 1-1 in post-season games.
Since moving to Las Vegas two seasons ago, the Raiders have not lost to the Broncos.
The Silver and Black won in Denver, 34-24, in September last season as Derek Carr threw two touchdown passes and running back Kenyan Drake scored twice, and they beat the Broncos, 17-13, later in the season in Las Vegas.
Two years ago, the Raiders routed the Broncos, 37-12, in Las Vegas as Josh Jacobs and Devontae Booker both ran for two touchdowns, and later in the season Jacobs ran one yard for his second TD of the game with 20 seconds left in the game and Derek Carr hit tight end Darren Waller with a two-point conversion pass to give the Raiders a thrilling, 32-31 victory.
Some of the greatest games between the Broncos and Raiders took place when Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway was in Denver.
Elway enjoyed some big games against the Silver and Black and led the Broncos to victories in Super Bowls XXII and XXIII, but in his career from 1983-98, he had only a 13-15 record against the Raiders.
But what if Elway had been wearing Silver and Black?
Long-time members of Raider Nation believe this should have happened because Elway was set to be the No. 1 pick of the 1983 NFL Draft but said he wouldn’t play for the Baltimore Colts, who had the top pick and would instead sign a baseball contract with the New York Yankees.
So, Managing General Partner Al Davis of the Raiders put together a deal with the Colts to acquire that No. 1 draft choice and select Stanford All-American Elway, sending three No. 1 draft picks and two No. 2 selections to Baltimore.
However, the deal was blocked by National Football League Commissioner Pete Rozelle, who said it would offset the balance of power in the NFL.
Rozelle and Davis had been rivals since the late 1960s when Davis was commissioner of the upstart American Football League during the Pro Football War that led to the AFC-NFL merger in 1970.
“We almost had Elway, but Pete Rozelle voided the trade,” said former Raiders personnel executive Ron Wolf, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “We had the trade set up with Baltimore, but Pete wouldn’t let it happen.”
Instead, the Colts made a deal to send Elway to the Broncos for backup quarterback Mark Hermann, tackle Chris Hinton, and a first-round draft pick.
Raider Nation, to this day, wonders how many Super Bowls the Silver and Black would have won with the great Elway at quarterback.
Probably the most memorable game in the Raiders-Broncos all-time series was the 1977 AFC Championship Game played at Mile High Stadium in Denver, and it’s a bad memory for Raiders fans.
The Broncos held a 7-3 lead and were threatening to score again in the third quarter when safety Jack Tatum hit Denver running back Rob Lytle and forced him to fumble at the one-yard line. Defensive tackle Mike McCoy of the Raiders recovered the ball and was running for a touchdown when he was called back.
Head linesman Ed Marion didn’t see the fumble and blew the whistle. Even though the film clearly showed that Lytle fumbled, there was no instant replay in those days and fullback Jon Keyworth scored from the one on the next play as Denver went on to a 20-17 victory despite two touchdown passes from Kenny “Snake” Stabler to tight end Dave Casper.
“Jack Tatum hit Rob Lytle coming over the top, he fumbled, I just picked up the ball and started running,” McCoy recalled. “I heard no whistle, I’m down about the 40-yard line and figuring I have a 95-yard touchdown here and I could be going to the Super Bowl.
“Then, they scored and we lost.”
Said Tatum: “It was definitely a fumble, I hit him and the ball dropped. That was a 14-point play.”
The only other time the Raiders and Broncos met in the post-season was in a 1993 AFC Wild Card Game at Memorial Stadium in Los Angeles, where Jeff Hostetler threw three touchdown passes and Napoleon McCallum ran for three scores to offset three TD passes by Elway in a 42-24 victory for the Silver and Black.
But for Raider Nation, it didn’t make up for 1977.
The Las Vegas Raiders return to action next Sunday, as they play host at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas to their AFC rivals, the Denver Broncos. That game kicks off at 4:25 p.m. PDT and can be seen on CBS.
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