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Raiders Glory Remembered: Trailing 24-0, Rallied Past Fouts, Chargers on MNF

The Las Vegas Raiders history is rich and glorious, and outside of the Super Bowls, no win is greater than a Monday Night Football comeback versus the Chargers
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The Las Vegas Raiders will play the AFC West rival Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City Monday Night Football on Oct. 10, according to the 2022 NFL schedule release.

The Raiders have a 43-30-1 record on Monday Night Football, and only the Pittsburgh Steelers with 54, the San Francisco 49ers at 50 and the Dallas Cowboys with 49 have more victories in prime time on Monday night.

One of the Raiders’ most memorable victories on Monday night came against future Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts and the AFC West rival San Diego Chargers on Nov. 22, 1982, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in the first game after NFL players returned to the field after being on strike for eight weeks.

The Raiders were the undisputed kings of Monday Night Football in those days with an 18-2-1 record, despite losing to the Chargers, 23-10, on Monday night a year earlier at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.

And the Chargers picked up right where they left off by rolling to a 24-0 lead in the second quarter as Fouts hit wide receiver Dwight Scales with a 29-yard touchdown pass, running back Chuck Muncie rushed for scores of one and two yards, and Rolf Benirschke kicked a 19-yard field goal.

The Raiders avoided being shut out in the first half after Hall of Fame linebacker Ted Hendricks recovered a fumble on the San Diego 17-yard line and quarterback Jim Plunkett threw a one-yard scoring pass to tight end Todd Christensen to make it 24-7 with 42 seconds left in the half.

Even though things looked bleak, Raiders Coach Tom Flores was positive when talking with his team in the locker room at halftime.

“Among other things, I reminded them that this was Monday Night Football with the eyes of an entire nation on us,” said Flores, who coached the Raiders to victory in Super Bowls XV and XVIII. “Monday Night magic—I don’t know what it is about it. We’re very proud of our Monday Night record. Monday Night Football brings out the best in us.

“We felt we were getting stronger and felt we could dominate the second half if we just stayed with our game plan, and we did.”

Hendricks started the second-half rally early in the third quarter when he sacked Fouts and the Raiders took possession and drove 64 yards, with Plunkett hitting Christensen over the middle for gains of 11 and 12 yards, and Kenny King rushing four times for 24 yards before rookie running back Marcus Allen scored on a three-yard run to make it 24-14.

Then cornerback Odis McKinney forced star tight end, Kellen Winslow of the Chargers, to fumble and defensive tackle Ruben Vaughan recovered for the Raiders. King ran for 21 yards before Allen scored again on a six-yard run to make it 24-21 with 2:23 left in the third quarter.

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After a sack of Fouts by Vaughan blunted a San Diego drive, the normally reliable Benirschke missed a 33-yard field goal attempt, and the Raiders took possession of the ball at their own 20-yard-line with 9:55 remaining in the game.

And took control of the game.

Plunkett started the 80-yard drive with a 14-yard pass to Hall of Fame wide receiver Cliff Branch and found Christensen for gains of 24 and 13 yards before hitting wide receiver Malcolm Barnwell for 14 more.

Eventually, fullback Frank Hawkins powered in for a one-yard touchdown to give the Raiders the lead, 28-24.

Fouts had plenty of time to bring the Chargers back as nearly six minutes remaining in the game, so it was up to the defense to finish things off, and it did.

Rookie safety Vann McIlroy intercepted a pass by Fouts with 1:56 left on the clock, but the Chargers forced a punt and Fouts had one more chance, but safety Lester Hayes knocked away his desperation bomb intended for wide receiver Charlie Joiner and the comeback victory was complete, 28-24.

“We’ve gained some fans who have now learned not to leave before the end,” guard Mickey Marvin said in the jubilant locker room. “The Raiders have been doing this for a long time, since before I came in 1977.”

As Flores said, Monday Night magic.

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