Monday, May 28, 2007

1975 AFC Championship Game

4) 1975 AFC Championship Game: Pittsburgh 16—Oakland 10

Ice Bowl II. In the 1970’s, the Steelers/Raiders rivalry was exactly what the Patriots/Colts rivalry is today: the two best teams in the league, battling it out every year for conference supremacy and a shot at the Super Bowl, mixed in with a healthy dose of hate. The 1975 AFC Championship Game would be the 4th consecutive year Pittsburgh and Oakland had met in the playoffs. The Steelers entered as defending Super Bowl champions. The Raiders? Well, the Raiders entered the game as the champions of choke, weighted down by eight long years of frustration. They’d made the playoffs in 7 of the last 8 years, including 6 AFL/AFC championship games, but they had only one Super Bowl appearance and no rings to show for all their “Commitment to Excellence” (gag). Would 1975 be any different? 20 m.p.h hour winds, snow flurries, 16-degree temperatures, and two brutal defenses all but guaranteed a low-scoring game featuring a lot of turnovers and that’s exactly what we got. After three quarters, a Steelers field goal remained the only points scored. But the 4th quarter saw a point explosion: three TD’s in 6 minutes. First, Franco Harris ran 25 yards for a score. Then, Ken Stabler drove his team 60 yards for the Raiders’ first TD. When Oakland got the ball back again, they fumbled, their third of the game, and Jack Lambert recovered at the Oakland 25 to set up the Steelers' final score, a 20-yard pass from Bradshaw to John Stallworth. At 16-7, the Steelers appeared to have the game locked up, attempting to run out the clock on their next possession. But Franco fumbled and the Raiders quickly drove to the Steelers’ 24 with 17 seconds left. Needing two scores to win, Coach John Madden sent in old man Blanda to kick a long FG. It’s good! Now Oakland must recover an onside kick to stay alive. They do! Is it possible? No! With seven seconds left, Ken Stabler takes the snap and hits Cliff Branch for 37 yards to the Steelers’ 15-yard-line but it’s all for naught. The game clock expires before Branch can get out of bounds. One more crushing season-ender for the Raiders. The Steelers win again despite eight turnovers (to Oakland’s five) and the Raiders become the first and so far only team to lose three consecutive AFC Championship games.

The Oakland Raiders' Top 10 Toughest Losses of All-Time:

Tenth Toughest Loss
Ninth Toughest Loss
Eighth Toughest Loss
Seventh Toughest Loss
Sixth Toughest Loss
Fifth Toughest Loss
Fourth Toughest Loss
Third Toughest Loss
Second Toughest Loss
Toughest Loss

1 comment:

Mike said...

The series is a tour de force.

I cant wait to see the Raiders worst loss. (I hope its not that awful Superbowl where they got shellacked by Tampa)