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MONDAY NIGHT MAVENS
John Walters
November 04, 1996
On the very first offensive play of the first game the Oakland Raiders played on ABC's Monday Night Football, on Oct. 19, 1970, they served notice that they were a team to watch in prime time. Quarterback Daryle Lamonica handed off to running back Hewritt Dixon, who raced 39 yards for a touchdown, and the Raiders went on to beat the Redskins 34-20. Over the years, no team in the NFL has owned Monday night like the Raiders, who have played the most games (46) in the 26 years of MNF and also have the best record (32-13-1). And certainly no team has provided as much good theater. "[Coach] John Madden used to call it The Monday Night Special," says Pete Banaszak, a Raiders running back from 1966 to '78. "Our team, personality-wise, was like The Dirty Dozen times four. Playing on Monday nights, when we knew we had our biggest TV audience, was a way for all our guys to express themselves."
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November 04, 1996

Monday Night Mavens

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On the very first offensive play of the first game the Oakland Raiders played on ABC's Monday Night Football, on Oct. 19, 1970, they served notice that they were a team to watch in prime time. Quarterback Daryle Lamonica handed off to running back Hewritt Dixon, who raced 39 yards for a touchdown, and the Raiders went on to beat the Redskins 34-20. Over the years, no team in the NFL has owned Monday night like the Raiders, who have played the most games (46) in the 26 years of MNF and also have the best record (32-13-1). And certainly no team has provided as much good theater. "[Coach] John Madden used to call it The Monday Night Special," says Pete Banaszak, a Raiders running back from 1966 to '78. "Our team, personality-wise, was like The Dirty Dozen times four. Playing on Monday nights, when we knew we had our biggest TV audience, was a way for all our guys to express themselves."

This week Oakland becomes the first team to play two of its games in a row on Monday night. After disposing of the San Diego Chargers 23-14 on Oct. 21 to even their record at 4-4 and get back in the AFC wild-card race, the Raiders had the week off before this Monday night's battle with Denver. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to look back at the most memorable Monday moments in Raiders history:

1) Nov. 30, 1987, at Seattle: On the way to a 37-14 Raiders win, running back Bo Jackson scores after leveling rookie Seahawks linebacker Brian Bosworth—Bo, Boz, Boom—at the goal line in a play that will forever be remembered as the beginning of the end of Bosworth's overhyped reputation. "It was a momentous play because of the men involved," says James Lofton, then a Raiders wide receiver. "You had Boz, who was this made-for-America star with the wild haircut, and Bo, who was simply the toughest guy I've ever been on a football field with. The funny thing about it is that Bo probably could have avoided him and scored. He wanted to hit him."

2) Dec. 3, 1979, at New Orleans: The Saints pounce for an early 35-14 lead as Oakland plays without wide receiver Cliff Branch, benched in the first half for missing a pregame walk-through. Branch makes amends with two fourth-quarter TD catches as Oakland scores 28 unanswered points to win 42-35.

3) Dec. 6, 1976, vs. Cincinnati: A Raiders loss will give Cincy the AFC Central crown and eliminate two-time defending Super Bowl champ Pittsburgh from the playoffs. Steelers fans take an ad in the Oakland Tribune imploring the Raiders not to "lay down against the Bengals." The Raiders don't. They crush Cincinnati 35-20, then go on to beat Pittsburgh in the AFC title game and win the Super Bowl.

4) Dec. 7, 1981, vs. Pittsburgh: The last Monday-night game in Oakland before the Raiders' move to L.A., played by teams that between them have won six of the previous seven Super Bowls. A fourth-quarter end-zone interception by Lester Hayes allows the Raiders to escape 30-27.

5) Nov. 22, 1982, vs. San Diego: After two road games and a 57-day players' strike, the Raiders finally host their first game in L.A.—and watch the Chargers take a 24-0 lead. But Todd Christensen's eight catches help the Raiders come back to win 28-24.

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