NFL – Throwback Thursday: The Turned Tables

22 Dec

A pair of franchises that have a deep history of hard-fought battles face off on this week’s NFL schedule. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Las Vegas Raiders, although both are mired in mediocrity in 2022, have been notorious for hating each other over the decades. In the 1970s, the Raiders, then in Oakland, had one of the top regular season winning percentages in the NFL. But the Steelers dominated the postseason in that decade with 4 Super Bowl wins, and in the early to mid-’70s won 5 of 7 matchups with coach John Madden’s club. In 1976, the tables began to turn in Oakland’s favor. They defeated Pittsburgh in the regular season and again in the playoffs on their way to the first Super Bowl title in franchise history that year. In the second half of the decade and into the early 1980s the Raiders continued to own their AFC rivals, to the tune of 4 more victories in a row to stretch their winning streak over the Steelers to 6.

It’s the final game of those 6 consecutive wins that we feature in this week’s TBT post. It was a divisional playoff game of the 1983 season, played on New Year’s Day of 1984. The Raiders had relocated to Los Angeles in 1982, so the game was played at one of the 20th century’s athletic cathedrals, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Raiders were favored in the game as the Steelers, although they managed to grab a playoff spot, were a shell of the team that had been so dominant in the previous decade. Terry Bradshaw was gone and the Steel City club was quarterbacked by a pair of journeymen in Cliff Stoudt and Mark Malone, both of whom saw action in this contest. After a Gary Anderson field goal gave Pittsburgh an early lead, Lester Hayes pilfered a Stoudt pass and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown to put L.A. ahead 7-3. The Raiders used their rushing attack, with quarterback Jim Plunkett filtering in passes to Cliff Branch and Todd Christensen, to put together drives that ended in a 4 yard TD scamper by future Hall of Famer Marcus Allen and a Chris Bahr field goal, upping the lead to 17-3 at halftime.

The rest of the game’s scoring came in the third quarter. The Raiders’ ground game continued to churn out yardage, with Kenny King scoring on a 9 yard run and Allen finding daylight on his way to his second score of the game from 49 yards out. The rout was now on, but Stoudt broke the L.A. momentum with a 58 yard touchdown bomb to John Stallworth. Frank Hawkins’ 2 yard touchdown run matched that and the Raiders advanced to the AFC Championship game with a resounding 38-10 win. In all the Raiders racked up 413 yards of offense, including 188 hard-fought rushing yards. Allen had a banner day, totaling 121 yards on 13 carries and his 2 TDs. The win proved to be a springboard for Los Angeles, as they soundly defeated Seattle in the AFC title game, then shocked the heavily favored defending champion Washington Redskins 38-9 in the Super Bowl to secure their second NFL championship.


Marcus Allen shreds the Steeler defense


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