Years ago in a playoff
game, the Oakland Raiders trailed the Pittsburgh Steelers by nine points with
less than a half minute to play. They had the ball on third down fairly
deep in Steeler territory.
The Raider head coach, John Madden, to the astonishment of many, decided to kick a field goal. Even more astonishing, his 48-year-old placekicker, George Blanda, boomed the ball through the uprights for three points. It was now a six point game.
Madden's next move was no surprise: an onside kick. The kick went towards Steeler John Stallworth, who had caught a touchdown earlier in the fourth quarter. But he couldn't bring the ball in and Raider Marv Hubbard recovered on the Raider 48. Oakland now had the ball with just seven seconds left on the clock.
Quarterback Ken Stabler threw a long pass to wide receiver Cliff Branch near the sidelines. Steeler defensive back Mel Blount let Branch catch the ball and then tackled him before he could get out of bounds. The game ended and Curt Gowdy, the sportscaster said, in reference to the Raiders' perennial frustration in the playoffs, "John Madden, disappointed again."
As an Oakland Raider fan, I shouldn't like the way the game ends, but their comeback attempt inspires me. I keep thinking how the Raiders could have pulled this game off. If Branch could somehow shake free of Blount and get out of bounds in time, or if Branch could have somehow out-maneuvered Blount and the Steeler defense and made a run for the goal line"or maybe Madden and Stabler come up with the ultimate trick play, like a surprise draw with Clarence Davis going fifty-two yards up the middle"