NFL – Throwback Thursday: Raiders Complete AFL Dominance

22 Sep

A pair of meandering NFL franchises meets on the league’s week 3 schedule, the Las Vegas Raiders and Tennessee Titans. For this week’s Thursday Throwback feature, we’ll highlight an American Football League championship game played between them on New Year’s Eve, 1967. At the time, the Titans were located in Houston as the Oilers, while the Raiders were still in their original home – Oakland. One of pro football’s most nomadic franchises, the Raiders moved from Oakland down the California coast to Los Angeles, back to Oakland and eventually to their current home in the Nevada desert.

At this point, Al Davis, who temporarily left the franchise to become AFL commissioner during merger talks with the NFL,  had built his team into a dominant force in the AFL. An October loss to Joe Namath and the New York Jets was the only blemish on an otherwise perfect season as Oakland finished 13-1, winning the AFL’s Western Division crown by a whopping 4 games over rival Kansas City. Houston, under coach Wally Lemm, reversed their fortunes from the previous season, turning a 3-11 record into a 9-4-1 mark that proved good enough to win the Eastern Division title and a trip to Oakland for the championship match.

Although Lemm’s club managed to wrestle the crown from three-time East champion Buffalo and the up-and-coming Jets, they proved to be no match for the Raiders in the title game. Oakland’s rugged defense smothered the Oiler attack, holding them to 146 total yards on the day and forcing 4 fumbles and an interception. Offensively, Raider quarterback Daryle Lamonica completed only 10 passes, but 2 of those went for touchdowns, 17 yards to tight end Dave Kocourek and 12 yards to Bill Miller. Oakland’s offense demolished the Oilers with a relentless ground attack, as both Hewritt Dixon (144) and Pete Banaszak (116) ran for over 100 yards. Dixon’s total included a 69 yard scoring run. Lamonica added a 1 yard touchdown run and George Blanda booted 4 field goals to complete the Raiders’ scoring in a 40-7 rout of the Oilers that was never much of a contest. The beleaguered Houston club could only manage a fourth quarter 5 yard TD pass from Pete Beathard to Charley Frazier, avoiding a shutout but not being very satisfied with the result.

Having bulldozed through the AFL in winning 14 of 15 games, the Raiders appeared to have a team capable of competing with the NFL’s juggernaut Green Bay Packers in the second Super Bowl, following a 35-10 thrashing of Kansas City by the Packers the previous season. Vince Lombardi’s troops, after all, had to muster every ounce of fortitude they had to dispatch the Dallas Cowboys in the “Ice Bowl” to make it back to the big game. Alas, Oakland’s lack of experience showed in the game, and mistakes led to another resounding Packer victory, 33-14.



FB Hewritt Dixon outruns Oiler defenders



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