What are the best moments for each NFL franchise? Yahoo Sports provides our opinion, which you are free to disagree with (and we’re sure you will).
5. The Heidi Game
As the clock struck 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 17, 1968, NBC’s East Coast broadcast of a regular-season matchup between the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets abruptly ended after six lead changes and nearly four quarters. The Jets were leading the Raiders 32-29 when the previously scheduled children’s movie “Heidi” began airing. The problem, of course, was that the game wasn’t over and millions of viewers missed the Raiders’ rollicking comeback. Despite 65 seconds left in the game and the Raiders set to receive, NBC executives couldn’t get word to the switch operator to stick with the game instead of going ahead with the made-for-TV film.
For the irate fans who missed the ending, they missed the nine seconds that will live in Raiders lore forever. With 1:05 on the game clock, Daryle “The Mad Bomber” Lamonica dropped back to pass and fired to Charlie Smith, who reeled it in for a 43-yard touchdown. Then, on the ensuing kickoff, Jets returner Earl Christy fumbled and Raiders RB Preston Ridlehuber, (yes, that’s his real name) sprang into action to recover the ball and ran it into the end zone to complete the thrilling sequence of events that half the United States missed. The Raiders had scored 14 points in nine seconds and NFL Sundays would be forever changed, as now TV contracts include a clause that local games must air until their conclusion. One of the most embarrassing moments in NFL history unintentionally set the stage for the NFL-is-everywhere world in which we now live.
4. Ghost to the Post
On Christmas Eve 1977, the defending Super Bowl champion Oakland Raiders faced off against the then-Baltimore Colts in the AFC divisional playoffs. The four-hour slugfest remains burned into the memories of Raider Nation thanks to Dave “The Ghost” Casper’s climactic 43-yard over-the-head catch now known as “Ghost to the Post.” The memorable catch put the Raiders within field-goal range.
According to Raiders head coach John Madden, assistant coach Tom Flores “noticed when we would throw the ‘in’ that the [Colts’] safety was sneaking up. He said, ‘On ‘91 In, take a peek at Ghost to the Post.’ ” The rest is history. Down three with 2:15 on the clock, Ken “The Snake” Stabler aired the ball to Casper, who made the remarkable catch look easy before getting tackled at the Colts’ 14-yard line. Flores’ ingenuity combined with Stabler’s accuracy and Casper’s athleticism had set the Raiders up to tie the game and force overtime. In double overtime, Casper once again made a highlight-reel play with a 10-yard game-winning touchdown catch from Stabler as the Raiders advanced to the AFC championship.
3. Sea of Hands
The 1974 AFC divisional playoff between the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders again featured the original Oakland bad boy Ken Stabler lobbing the ball, this time for a game-winning touchdown to Clarence Davis, who famously caught the ball while wading through a “Sea of Hands.” Those six hands belonged to Miami defensive players Mike Kolen, Larry Ball and Charlie Babb. Davis ripped Stabler’s pass from the sky before tumbling in the end zone with the ball firmly in his grip despite Kolen getting a hand on it and Babb believing he would make the interception. Stabler, who was named league MVP after the season, later told NFL Films his throw to Davis “probably should have been intercepted.” Davis’ 8-yard touchdown secured the victory for Oakland and the Raiders would advance to the AFC championship where they would lose to the rival Steelers.
2. Marcus Allen’s 74-yard touchdown in Super Bowl XVIII
“As Washington’s hopes faded into the dying daylight, on came Marcus Allen, running with the night.”
After nearly three quarters of stellar play in Super Bowl XVIII on Jan. 22, 1984 by Tom Flores’ Raiders, L.A. led the Washington Redskins 28-9 and had the Vince Lombardi Trophy all but wrapped up. The problem for Washington was that Los Angeles wasn’t done yet. With less than two minutes to go in the third, the Raiders’ stifling defense – led by Pro Bowl linebacker Rod Martin – stopped Joe Theismann and Co. on a crucial fourth-and-1 attempt in Raiders territory. That’s when all hell broke loose, hell being Marcus Allen and “broke loose” is what happened after he took the handoff from Jim Plunkett – a whirling, incomprehensible 74-yard run to the house, a then-Super Bowl record for longest rushing touchdown from scrimmage. The record-breaking run was the cherry on top of the Raiders’ third championship in eight years, and for the second time in franchise history, the Silver and Black had gone into the Super Bowl as underdogs and emerged as champions. Just win, indeed.
1. ‘Old Man Willie!’
The dominant 1976 Raiders arrived at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 9, 1977 for Super Bowl XI riding a 12-game winning streak and the ending seemed like a foregone conclusion against the underdog Minnesota Vikings. Still, lifting the first world championship trophy in franchise history was a moment unlike any other. After his short stint as the AFL commissioner where he oversaw the league’s merger with the NFL, then-minority team owner and managing general partner Al Davis, along with head coach John Madden, had transformed the Raiders into a colossal Super Bowl contender. Davis’ hand-picked squad that Super Bowl Sunday included six Raiders who were later enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including Ray Guy, Fred Biletnikoff, Willie Brown, Ted Hendricks, Gene Upshaw and Art Shell.
The star-studded Raiders shutout the Vikings in the first half and led 19-7 after three quarters. In the final quarter, with the Raiders leading 26-7 and the Vikings having struggled all day to get anything going against the shutdown Oakland defense, Minnesota QB Fran Tarkenton threw his second interception of the day. “Old Man” Willie Brown blazed past the receiver for the pick and ran it back 75 yards for the play of the game that put the last nail in the Vikings’ coffin. The Oakland Raiders were world champions for the first time in franchise history.