Interim head coach Rich Bisaccia’s first major task will be to try to get the Las Vegas Raiders to end their two-game losing streak on Sunday against the longtime rival Denver Broncos on the road at Empower Field at Mile High.
The Raiders and Broncos were charter members of the American Football League in 1960, have been in the same division all these 62 seasons, with the Raiders holding a 67-54-2 lead in the all-time series—including one infamous playoff game.
Last season, the Raiders swept the Broncos, winning 37-12 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas as Josh Jacobs rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns, and 32-31 when Jacobs ran one yard for a touchdown with 24 seconds left in regulation to cut the margin to one point.
Then quarterback Derek Carr hit the tight end, Darren Waller, with a two-point conversion pass as the Silver and Black salvaged an 8-8 record in the final game of the regular season. Defensive end Maxx Crosby clinched the victory when he blocked a 62-yard field goal attempt by Brandon McManus in the thin air at Mile High with nine seconds remaining.
The game that sticks in the craw of longtime members of Raider Nation is the 1977 AFC Championship game at what was then called Mile High Stadium.
The Raiders were reigning Super Bowl champions, but the Broncos won the AFC West that season with a 12-2 record, while the Raiders were coming off the famed “Ghost to the Post” game in which Kenny Stabler and tight end Dave Casper team up for a memorable 37-31 over the Baltimore Colts in a wild card overtime game at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium.
The next week in Denver, the Broncos held a 7-3 lead in the third quarter and were driving again when running back Rob Lytle fumbled near the goal line and defensive tackle Mike McCoy picked up the ball and was running free for what might have been a go-ahead touchdown when head linesman Ed Marion blew his whistle to stop the play.
Marion didn’t see the fumble, which everyone watching on TV and many in the stadium did. Video replays showed the fumble clearly, but the NFL didn’t have rules to appeal and overturn the play in those days.
Fullback Jon Keyworth scored on a one-yard run on the next play and the Broncos went on to a 20-17 victory despite Stabler passing for 217 yards and two touchdowns to Casper in the fourth quarter.
The Raiders went home as the Broncos went on to take a 27-10 beating from the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XII.
Earlier that season, the Raiders scored first on Stabler’s nine-yard touchdown pass to Casper at the Oakland Coliseum, but the Broncos scored the last 30 points of the game and claimed a 30-7 victory.
Stabler threw seven interceptions in the game, but it didn’t faze him, and he said afterward: “Had the game gone on a little longer, I might have thrown 10, because throwing the ball was the only chance we had to get back in the game.”
Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway had some big games against the Raiders 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.
The only reason the Broncos are even close to the Raiders in the all-time series is that they won eight consecutive games from 2011 to 2015. But before that, the Silver and Black won 11 out of 12 from 1995 to 2001.
One of the other games longtime Raiders fans remember is a 51-0 rout of the Broncos in the first game of the 1967 season when wide receiver Warren Wells caught touchdown passes from quarterbacks Daryle Lamonica and George Blanda, and fullback Hewritt Dixon ran for two scores.
Those Raiders went 13-1 and eventually lost to legendary Coach Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl II, 33-14.
Regardless of what has happened recently, Bisaccia and the Raiders must remember their legacy against the Broncos.
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