The NFL schedule this week includes an AFC West battle between two old enemies, the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, so a past game between these two clubs will be our Throwback Thursday feature. When the merger took place that joined together the National Football League with the American Football League, it stipulated that the leagues would begin to exist as the “new” NFL beginning in 1970, with the teams divided into the National and American Conferences. Great care was taken to try to preserve the rivalries built up among teams in each league. One of those was the AFL Western Division rivalry between the Raiders and Chiefs. It wasn’t a rivalry that existed when the AFL was founded in 1960 – the Raiders were a bad team with financial problems in the league’s first couple of years, while the Chiefs began their life as the Dallas Texans, one of the league’s better clubs on the field behind the coaching of Hank Stram. Unable to compete with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, owner Lamar Hunt moved his franchise to K.C. where it enjoyed even more success. When the Raiders hired Al Davis to be their head coach in 1963, they soon shunned their loser label and became an AFL powerhouse. Both clubs developed into flagship franchises for the new league, and being in the same division it was inevitable that they would become bitter rivals. The two teams won 3 of the final 4 AFL titles as the league wound down, and their rivalry continued on into the NFL in the ’70s, and thrives even today. There have been many classics played between these two teams – including an AFL title game in 1969, a season that saw the Raiders sweep the 2 regular season meetings, only to have the underdog Chiefs come into Oakland and upset the Raiders in the title match. The Chiefs had a mascot, a live horse named Warpaint, that would circle the field after every K.C. touchdown. In a 1975 clash, the Chiefs blew out the Raiders 42-10, prompting Oakland coach John Madden to utter: “We couldn’t beat the Chiefs, but we damn near killed their horse!”
The game we highlight for Throwback Thursday is the first encounter they had as members of the NFL, played on November 1 1970. As usual, they were locked in a battle for the division lead, only now it was for the NFL’s AFC West lead, not the AFL Western Division. The Chiefs scored first on a short run by Wendell Hayes, then Raider QB Daryle Lamonica hit his tight end, Raymond Chester, on a pair of short touchdown tosses, to give Oakland a 14-10 lead. Kansas City scored the next 10 points, on a field goal by Jan Stenerud and a TD throw from Len Dawson to his star wideout, Otis Taylor. The Chiefs now led 17-14 and appeared to be on their way to the win, until Taylor became involved in another play. On this play, Dawson scrambled for first down yardage, and on his way down to the ground, got speared in the head by Raider defensive end Ben Davidson. Taylor immediately came to his quarterback’s defense, jumping Davidson and igniting a bench-clearing brawl. Both Davidson and Taylor were ejected but under the rules at the time, Taylor’s penalty nullified the first down and the Chiefs were forced to punt. This allowed Lamonica to drive his team down the field to set up a tying field goal by Oakland’s old reliable, George Blanda. Blanda nailed the kick and the game ended in a 17-17 tie (there was no overtime in the NFL then). That tie eventually cost the Chiefs the division title, as Oakland won the rematch on their home field later in the year to win the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Oakland’s menacing defensive end Ben Davidson