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ONE TITLE DOWN...TWO TO GO
Edwin Shrake
December 11, 1967
Taking advantage of an injudicious blitz, Oakland whipped San Diego and won the California State Championship of the AFL
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December 11, 1967

One Title Down...two To Go

Taking advantage of an injudicious blitz, Oakland whipped San Diego and won the California State Championship of the AFL

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To Lamonica, who has matured and improved tremendously in his first opportunity as a starting quarterback after four years as a backup man in Buffalo, San Diego's blitzes and odd defenses, overshifted toward the wide side of the field, were as welcome as an abalone dinner. He hit Fred Biletnikoff on an 18-yard touchdown pass early in the game. After Hadl tied the score on a quarterback sneak following a 60-yard pass to Gary Garrison, Oakland got a field goal and, then, with third down and less than a foot to go, Lamonica lobbed a pass to Billy Cannon, who was utterly neglected by the San Diego defense. Cannon ambled 64 yards for a touchdown.

Hadl came back with a 57-yard touchdown pass to the remarkable Alworth, who had reinjured his left leg and had retired to the locker room for a deadening shot into the muscle. It was the 100th touchdown pass of Hadl's career, but soon thereafter Alworth was useless as a deep receiver because he had lost his special acceleration. And Post, the receiver counted on in the game plan, had hurt his knee. Lamonica threw a touchdown pass to Bill Miller and foiled a San Diego blitz by dumping a pass that Fullback Hewritt Dixon carried 48 yards to set up another score. Hadl threw a touchdown pass to Garrison, who made a superb catch, and Oakland led at the half, 31-21.

In the first half Oakland had 308 yards on offense and San Diego had 269. Hadl passed for 200 yards and Lamonica for 232. In the second half the Chargers abandoned their blitz, which had cost them two touchdowns, and Oakland began to play the sort of defense it is noted for. The Chargers never scored again and, while their defense was improved, Lamonica did get another touchdown on a pass to Cannon—Lamonica's 26th touchdown pass of the year. Oakland completed the scoring on George Blanda's second field goal.

The temper of the afternoon was such that Oakland Coach John Rauch, ordinarily a quiet American, got two unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties for yelling at officials, and Gillman got one. Later, Rauch was his usual restrained self, although he could not help exulting a bit about his Raiders, who rate with last year's Kansas City club as the two best teams the AFL has ever produced. "We're the best team in the league," Rauch said, smiling.

Hadl agreed, although he was not conceding the championship just yet. "They execute well and don't make mistakes," he said, "and that's how you win. After the effort today, they could let down, but the trouble is that Oakland is so good it can win anyhow. We still have a mathematical chance in the Western Division. If we win our last three games, we'll be 11-2-1, and that's not bad, is it?"

No, but with a game-and-a-half lead, the Raiders seem to have the Western Conference Championship and a Super Bowl date assured. That is bad if you are a Charger.

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