SI Vault
 
NO MIRACLE REQUIRED
Tex Maule
December 21, 1970
For weeks the Oakland Raiders stayed in the race by means of a series of almost supernatural last-second wins, but when they beat Kansas City for the Western Division title their tactics were au naturel
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
December 21, 1970

No Miracle Required

For weeks the Oakland Raiders stayed in the race by means of a series of almost supernatural last-second wins, but when they beat Kansas City for the Western Division title their tactics were au naturel

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4

The Oakland offensive line was generally more widely spaced than usual. "A team as big as Kansas City, you can't get shoulder to shoulder with them," Upshaw explained. "Buck Buchanan, playing head on you, covers two holes all by himself, and he's the toughest I play. Once he hit me in the back after a play was over and I asked him, 'Is that the way it's going to be?' He said, 'Get back in the huddle and play football.' "

As he dressed, Lamonica said, "We figured we had to smack them right out of there. We kept them guessing. We had them looking at different things. Not major changes, little ones. But little things can become major. We didn't make any drastic changes. I could feel the aggression building all week. And I felt it warming up today. Voom! We couldn't wait for the game to start. Voom! I knew we were ready."

Ready or not, on the first Oakland series Lamonica threw a pass to Charlie Smith which was intercepted by Right Linebacker Jim Lynch. The Raiders had planned to pick on Lynch, whom they considered the least competent of the Chief linebackers. They wanted to isolate Smith on Lynch and throw to him; the Chiefs were aware of that and helped Lynch out by giving him deep help from Johnny Robinson, their safety. Knowing Robinson was behind him, Lynch stuck to Smith like a leech and took the pass away from him.

"We came back after that first mistake," Lamonica said. "We drove right down the held and the offensive line knew it was their day, which it was."

It was, too, the day of the Raider defensive line. Tom Keating, who did as much as any one man to disrupt the Chief offense, said, "It feels good to mess 'em up, to do a job on them. They cost me 20 grand last year."

Keating and Middle Linebacker Dan Conners had collaborated on stunts designed to confuse the Chief blockers. "In our triple-under defense, we both didn't go into the bubble," Keating said. In a triple-under the Oakland defensive line is overshifted to the weak side of the Kansas City offensive line; the bubble is the gap on the strong side created by the overshift—a wide hole between the tackle playing head-on with the offensive center and the defensive end on the strong side.

"I don't feel like I played 40 plays today," Keating said. Someone pointed out, "You didn't. You only played 38."

"I don't even feel like I've been in a game," whispered Ben Davidson.

The Raiders ran 69 plays to 38 by Kansas City. What is surprising is that with so great an imbalance, the Raiders only won by two touchdowns.

The Oakland secondary shouldn't be forgotten, either. Earlier, Len Dawson said, "They're all burners back there. There are no weak spots in their defense. Some teams have a weak man and they have to compensate for it, but the Raiders don't need any compensation. They play the same coverage 70% of the time and just change the depth of the coverage."

Continue Story
1 2 3 4