The Las Vegas Raiders are 3-1 against the American Football Conference to start the 2021 NFL season. They venture into the National Football Conference to play the Chicago Bears at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Sunday.
The Raiders and Bears have not played very often since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The Silver and Black hold an 8-7 lead in the series since claiming a 24-21 victory the last time they played at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London in 2019. Rookie running back Josh Jacobs ran two yards for his second touchdown the winning score with 13:03 left in the game.
The Raiders and Bears played several memorable games among the NFL power teams in the 1970s and 1980s.
The first time they played was in 1972 at the Oakland Coliseum when Ron Smith of the Bears returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown.
Running back Charlie Smith caught scoring passes of 14 and 19 yards from quarterbacks Daryle Lamonica and Kenny Stabler before running backs Pete Banaszak and Clarence Davis ran for touchdowns in the fourth quarter to give the Raiders a 28-21 victory in the final regular-season game.
The Raiders ran around all-time great middle linebacker Dick Butkus, who could barely move because of a right knee injury that caused him to retire the following year, but he was so tough he refused to leave the field. Butkus took up space in the middle of the field, but if backs got near him, he could still bury them with one of his bone-rattling tackles.
A week later, the Raiders (10-3-1) lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 13-7, in the AFC wild-card game.
The Raiders and Bears next met, and Walter Payton ran for 97 yards and three touchdowns. But Stabler threw his third touchdown pass of the game by hitting wide receiver Cliff Branch with a 49-yard bomb in the final minutes to give the Raiders a 28-27 victory at Soldier Field in Chicago in 1976.
Bears kicker Bob Thomas had his 31-yard field goal attempt hit the right upright and bounce away on the game's final play on a typical breezy day in the Windy City.
The Raiders were 16-1 overall that season and defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 32-14, in Super Bowl XI.
Two years later, Errol Mann of the Raiders kicked a 29-yard field goal to force overtime, and running back Arthur Whittington went one yard for a touchdown in the extra period to give Oakland a 25-19 victory at Soldier Field, and the Raiders had a 3-0 record over the Bears.
However, Chicago won the following three times they played, including a 23-6 victory at the Oakland Coliseum in 1981, a 17-6 win at Soldier Field in 1984, and a 6-3 triumph in 1987 on two field goals by Kevin Butler after the Raiders moved to the Los Angeles Coliseum.
In the 1984 game, the Bears were putting together a team under Coach Mike Ditka that would go on to an 18-1 record overall the next season on their way to routing the New England Patriots, 46-10, in the Super Bowl with an offense led by legendary running back Walter Payton and quarterback Jim McMahon.
With defensive studs like linebacker Mike Singletary and Wilbur Marshall, and defensive lineman Richard Dent, William Perry, and Dan Hampton, they pulverized the Raiders, knocking quarterbacks Marc Wilson, Jim Plunkett, and David Humm out of the game with injuries.
Punter Ray Guy, the Raiders' emergency quarterback, was nervously warming up on the sideline, but Wilson ran back onto the field from the locker room and finished the game. For the left-handed Humm, essentially a backup pro after an outstanding career at Nebraska, he was forced to retire because of a knee injury.
The Raiders, who have won three of their last five games against the Bears, hope they can take better care of quarterback Derek Carr against the team known as "The Monsters of the Midway" on Sunday.
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