NFL – Throwback Thursday: Sid Gillman vs. The Chargers

17 Oct

On this week’s NFL schedule of games, there is a contest to be played between the Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee Titans. For our weekly Throwback Thursday feature, we settled on a game played between these two franchises when the Chargers were still in San Diego and the Titans were located in Houston as the Oilers. It was September 15, the opening day of the 1974 season and coach Tommy Prothro’s Chargers were visiting Houston’s Astrodome for a game against the Oilers, who were coached at the time by Sid Gillman. Gillman, of course, led the San Diego franchise to huge success in their American Football League years in the 1960s, and this was his first chance to take on the team that had let him go after the 1970 season. Gillman would hardly recognize the Charger team that came into the Astrodome to play that day. His star players from the AFL days like John Hadl, Paul Lowe, Keith Lincoln, Lance Alworth, Dave Kocourek, Ernie Ladd and Ron Mix were all either retired or dispersed across the league finishing out their careers with other teams.

Whether there was any sense of revenge or not, Gillman’s Oilers would take care of their coach on this day, as they ground out a 21-14 win over San Diego. The Oilers featured a balanced attack instead of Gillman’s usual vertical passing game. Their young quarterback, Lynn Dickey, was efficient, spreading the ball around among 6 different receivers. Ronnie Coleman was the bulwark of the running game, gaining 123 yards on 21 carries, although George Amundson stole his thunder by scoring 2 short rushing touchdowns and catching an 8 yard throw from Dickey to account for all of Houston’s scoring. Cid Edwards had 100 yards rushing for San Diego and Glen Bonner scored on a short TD run, while the other Charger touchdown came on a pass from the team’s young signal caller, Dan Fouts, to one of the few Charger players Gillman might recognize from his days as the team’s coach, receiver Gary Garrison. The Oilers, who had finished 1-13 the previous year, improved to 7-7 on the season under Gillman, but the future Hall of Famer stepped down to give his hand-picked choice as his replacement, Bum Phillips, a chance to take over in 1975. Prothro’s Chargers staggered to a 5-9 record and the franchise never worked their way out of mediocrity under his leadership. They finally fired him in 1978 and brought on Don Coryell, who would bring the team back to a level of respectability.



Oilers’ 1974 media guide prominently featured the bow-tie wearing Gillman


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