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NFL – Throwback Thursday: Jets Upset The Champs

21 Nov

The New York Jets and Oakland Raiders clash this weekend on the NFL’s schedule, and we’ll travel back to a game played between these 2 former AFL rivals on December 29, 1968 for this week’s Throwback Thursday feature. The headline of this post, “Jets Upset The Champs”, was probably more fitting to be used a couple of weeks later after this game, when the Jets stunned the NFL’s Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl, but it actually also applies to this game. It was the AFL’s title game between the defending league champion Raiders and the upstart Jets. The Jets actually entered the game as slight favorites, which seemed odd since Oakland was the defending AFL champion and had defeated the Jets six weeks earlier in the regular season in the famous “Heidi” game. One possible reason might have been that the Raiders had finished tied with Kansas City for the Western Division title and had to play a playoff game with the Chiefs a week earlier to decide who played the Jets for the right to go to the Super Bowl. The game on this day was to be played in cold, windy weather at New York’s Shea Stadium. The quarterbacks, Oakland’s Daryle Lamonica and the Jets’ Joe Namath, struggled with the passing game all day. Both completed less than 50% of their passes. Namath opened the scoring by finding his favorite target, flanker Don Maynard, on a 14 yard pass to give the Jets an early 7-0 lead. Lamonica countered with a 29 yard TD strike to Fred Biletnikoff and the teams traded field goals, with a pair each coming from the Raiders’ George Blanda and New York’s Jim Turner, to forge a 13-13 tie in the third quarter. Namath then found his tight end, Pete Lammons, for a score while Blanda added another Oakland three-pointer, so New York had a 20-16 lead at that point. The Raiders intercepted Namath and took advantage of it by driving to a go-ahead touchdown run of 5 yards by Pete Banaszak. Namath rebounded by leading a 68 yard drive culminating in another short scoring pass to Maynard, and the Jet defense kept Oakland off the board the rest of the game, allowing New York to escape with a hard-earned 27-23 victory. Maynard was the star of the day, grabbing 6 passes for 118 yards and the 2 scores, but Namath’s other top receiver, George Sauer, would contribute 70 yards on 7 catches, and the Jets’ rushing attack, a two-headed monster of Matt Snell and Emerson Boozer, chipped in with 122 hard-earned yards on the ground. Biletnikoff stood out in the losing cause for Oakland, with 7 catches for 190 yards and a TD, while speedster Warren Wells notched another 83 yards on 3 grabs. The two teams gained a combined 843 yards of total offense on the day, a pretty amazing accomplishment in the blustery conditions.

 

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Namath (12) throws over Ben Davidson (83 in white) to an awaiting George Sauer (83)

 

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