Raiders’ Revenge: Slide Past Jets for AFL Title, 13-10

Charlie Smith
Charlie Smith gallops down the sidelines in Oakland’s 13-10 victory over the New York Jets. Oakland returns to the Super Bowl in a rematch against the Dallas Cowboys from two seasons ago.
The Oakland Raiders won the final American Football League championship with a 13-10 come-from-behind win over the defending league champion, New York Jets. The Raiders avenged a 52-31 loss to New York in last season’s championship game.

The Jets struck like a lightning flash with a touchdown in the opening minutes. On the game’s second play from scrimmage, linebacker Ralph Baker wrestled away a Lamonica pass intended for Hewritt Dixon for an interception. On the next play, Jets’ quarterback Joe Namath connected with Don Maynard for a 24 yard touchdown pass. A pair of George Blanda field goals closed the lead to one point with less than two minutes to go in the first half. However, a 47 yard Namath-to-Maynard pass set up a 9 yard Jim Turner field goal in the final seconds of the first half to extend the visitors’ lead to 10-6.

New York had ample opportunities to put the game away, but the Raider defense kept finding ways of forcing turnover after turnover by the Jets. Oakland forced three fumbles, all of which were recovered by the Raiders and halted New York drives. The game-deciding touchdown came after Namath’s only interception of the day. Willie Brown intercepted at mid field and returned the ball to the Jets 14. After a 9 yard completion to Fred Biletnikoff and a holding penalty, Lamonica found Willie Wells in the end zone for a 20 yard touchdown with 11:13 remaining in the game. A pair of penalties cost the Jets on their final two drives. The death knell was a holding penalty on an 4th down conversion by Matt Snell with 2:16 left in the game. The Jets subsequently punted, hoping to stop the Raiders on defense for a final shot at redemption. But, Charlie Smith and Hewritt Dixon were able to run the clock out for the Raiders. Oakland was led by rookie head coach John Madden this season and will represent the AFL in the final “Super Bowl” before the leagues merge next season.

Browns Hand Vikes First Defeat, 20-17

Bill Nelsen looks for a receiver as Minnesota’s Jim Marshall looms large.
Bloomington, Minn. – The Cleveland Browns defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 20-17, at Metropolitan Stadium. However, many Vikings fans may claim the Vikings defeated themselves after Minnesota turned the football over nine times; six fumbles lost and three interceptions. The final Vikings’ fumble of the game by fullback Bill Brown, and his second of the day, proved to be the most costly as Cleveland quarterback Bill Nelsen converted the turnover into a 70-yard touchdown drive in the final 2:19 capped by Leroy Kelly’s plunge from one yard out. Minnesota was grinding out the clock with their own eight-play drive until Brown fumbled the ball.

Minnesota appeared in the early stages to take control of the game with scoring drives in their first two possessions to take a 10-0 first quarter lead. However, a pair of fumbles and a pair of interceptions gave the Browns life, but Cleveland could only convert the four turnovers into a 14-yard Don Cockroft field goal as Minnesota’s defense stood tall. In fact, the vaunted “Purple People Eaters” turned the final Cleveland threat away as Gary Larsen forced and recovered a Leroy Kelly fumble at the Minnesota goal line to preserve a touchdown lead by Minnesota at the half.

Minnesota stopped Cleveland’s first possession of the second half, but on the first play from scrimmage, Brown fumbled and Ron Snidow recovered for Cleveland. Nelsen and the Browns could only covert this turnover into another 14 yard Cockroft field goal to trim the lead to 10-6. After another Minnesota fumble on their subsequent possession, Nelsen finally found paydirt by connecting with tight end Milt Morin on an 18-yard touchdown strike that gave Cleveland a 13-10 lead. But as the third quarter expired, Nelsen threw his third interception of the game deep in their own territory. Karl Kassulke returned the ball to the Cleveland 8. Dave Osborn rushed in from 3 yards for a 17-13 Vikings lead to start the fourth quarter. Osborn led all rushers with 85 yards in 21 attempts.

It was a lead that appeared Minnesota did not wish to keep. The Vikings turned the ball over on their next three possessions in the fourth quarter, the final one being Brown’s miscue that led to the eventual winning touchdown. Both clubs now stand with a 7-1 record and it may surprise nobody if a rematch occurs in the playoffs. The Eagles defeated Washington 30-16. The Lions beat the Falcons at home, 23-20. The Cardinals, led by 242 passing yards by Charley Johnson, pounded the Giants, 34-14.

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Browns Hold Off Lions, 30-28

Browns QB Bill Nelsen looking for a receiver against the Lions
The following is not a summary of historical events,but rather the results of my computer football replay of the 1969 AFL and NFL seasons using Second and Ten football. In reality on October 5, 1969, the Lions handed the Cleveland Browns their first defeat of the 1969 season, 28-21.

The Cleveland Browns maintained their undefeated status by holding off a furious rally by the visiting Detroit Lions en route to a 30-28 victory. The Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings and Browns remain the only undefeated teams in the NFL. The Browns jumped to a 27-0 lead in the first half before the Lions reached the scoreboard with a Bill Triplett touchdown run in the final minute of the half.

When John Garlington intercepted Lions’ quarterback Bill Munson on Detroit’s opening second half drive, the outcome seemed even more assured for Cleveland. The Browns cashed the turnover into another Don Cockroft field goal for a 30-7 lead. Munson and the Lions responded with a 9-play, 77-yard drive that resulted in a Munson touchdown pass to tight end Charlie Sanders. The Lions defense forced the Browns to punt after only three plays, and Munson again pushed the Lions downfield. But on the tenth play of the drive and in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, Munson was again intercepted.

The Browns marched downfield and, with the benefit of a defensive pass interference call, reached the Lions 26. But the Lions defense rose to the occasion and sacked Nielsen twice forcing the Browns to punt. Lem Barney caught Cockroft’s punt at his own 12 and weaved through the Browns coverage for an 88 yard touchdown that breathed new life into the Lions. But the Lions could not mount another threat until the clock reached two minutes, just as they had in the first half. Munson connected with wideout Earl McCullouch for 38 yards to the Cleveland 35. A flare pass to Mel Farr put the Lions at the Browns 17, and a draw play by Farr brought the ball to the Browns’ 2 with a minute to go. Munson again found Sanders in the end zone and Errol Mann’s PAT closed the deficit to a mere two points. But the Browns recovered the onside attempt to remain undefeated as the Lions would have to be satisfied with perhaps a moral victory to go with their 0-3 record.

In other NFL action, the Minnesota Vikings unseated the Green Bay Packers with a 21-point second half rally in a 31-17 victory. Roman Gabriel led the Rams to a 13-10 victory over the New Orleans Saints with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Billy Truax in the final minute. Dallas outlasted Philadelphia, 28-20, as Lance Rentzel caught four touchdown passes from Craig Morton. Baltimore defeated the Falcons in Atlanta, 24-13, and the Redskins beat the 49ers in San Francisco despite the afternoon’s only 100-yard rushing game from Ken Willard. The Bears defeated the Giants, 21-7, and Pittsburgh crushed the Cardinals, 48-17. Roy Jefferson had 172 receiving yards and two touchdowns for the Steelers.

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Rams Defense Thwarts Colts.

Rams' DT Coy Bacon breaks through the line in Los Angeles' 16-3 win over the World Champion Colts
Rams’ DT Coy Bacon breaks through the line in Los Angeles’ 16-3 win over the World Champion Colts

The following is not a summary of historical events,but rather the results of my computer football replay of the 1969 AFL and NFL seasons using Second and Ten football. In reality on September 21, 1969, the Rams defeated the defending NFL champion Colts, 27-20.

The Los Angeles Rams opened the 1969 NFL season with a 16-3 road victory over the World Champion Baltimore Colts. The contest was a defensive struggle, but the Rams’ defense forced Johnny Unitas to throw five interceptions. After each club missed field goals – the Rams’ miss was set up by Unitas’ first interception – Los Angeles’ QB Roman Gabriel found WR Wendell Tucker for an 80 yard pass for the game’s first and only touchdown. That one play drive was a result of Unitas’ second interception by Clancy Williams. With two minutes remaining in the first half, Unitas and Tom Matte led a Colts’ drive that ended in a 30 yard field goal. The Rams pushed the margin back to seven with a Bruce Gossett 30 yard field goal after their opening drive in the second half. From there, the Rams’ “Fearsome Foursome” locked down the Colts offense. Richie Petitbone ended any hope with the afternoon’s final interception with a minute remaining. Unitas missed most of last season due to injury, and was a forgettable 17-40 with 130 yards passing with the five interceptions.

In other action, a pair of rookies shone brightly in Dallas’ 45-21 win over St. Louis. QB Roger Staubach passed for 289 yards with two touchdown passes to Lance Rentzel. RB Calvin Hill, the Cowboys’ first round pick from Yale, rushed for 186 yards. Gale Sayers rushed for 144 yards, but the Packers rallied in the second half to coast to a 34-14 win over Chicago. Minnesota silenced Fran Tarkenton and the Giants, 22-3. Atlanta defeated San Francisco, 20-3. New Orleans spoiled the debut of Redskins’ head coach Vince Lombardi with a 22-21 win at Tulane Stadium. Cleveland held off the Eagles, 17-10, and Gene Mingo’s 23 yard field goal with 3:46 remaining was the margin of victory as the Steelers defeated the Lions, 23-20.

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Jets Squeeze Past O.J., Bills in Opener

>Rookie O.J. Simpson rushed for 105 yards in his professional debut, but it wasn't enough for the Bills to slip past the Jets.
>Rookie O.J. Simpson rushed for 105 yards in his professional debut, but it wasn’t enough for the Bills to slip past the Jets.

The following is not a summary of historical events,but rather the results of my computer football replay of the 1969 AFL and NFL seasons using Second and Ten football. In reality on September 14, 1969,Joe Namath and the Jets did beat the Bills,but by the score of 33-19. Simpson only rushed for 35 yards on 10 carries in his debut.

The defending AFL champion, New York Jets, escaped Buffalo with a seven point margin of victory, 27-20. Bills’ rookie, O.J. Simpson, out of Southern California earned his pay with an impressive debut, 105 yards rushing on 17 carries. The Buffalo ground game kept the Bills in the game, but both teams took advantage of turnovers to take the lead in the final half of play.

Midway through the third quarter, Buffalo closed to within three points, 13-10, on Jack Kemp’s 28 yard touchdown pass to Haven Moses. On the Jets’ first play of scrimmage following that score, Bills’ DE Ron McDole sacked New York QB Joe Namath causing a fumble. LB Mike Stratton scooped the ball up for Buffalo and raced 21 yards for another Bills’ touchdown. In the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, Buffalo tacked on a 32 yard Bruce Alford field goal to extend its’ lead to seven, 20-13. However, Namath responded by storming the Jets down the field and knotting the score at 20 with a 25 yard touchdown strike to George Sauer. Then, it was the Jets’ turn to cash in a Buffalo miscue. On their first play from scrimmage, Kemp’s intended quick toss to Bobby Crockett was read well by LB Paul Crane who stepped in front for the interception. Crane nearly scored, but was tacked at the Bills’ five yard line. After an incomplete pass, Matt Snell took the ball down to the 1, setting up Emerson Boozer’s third down plunge for the lead. The Jets’ defense kept Buffalo in check until the final two minutes. With 2:30 remaining, New York punted, and Kemp took over at the Bills’ 34. Kemp and Simpson led the Bills to the Jets’ 19 with under a minute to go. But, Kemp’s third down pass into the end zone was picked off by Cornell Gordon to end the game.

Other AFL action featured a pair of tie games. Kansas City and San Diego fell even at 13-13. A Noland Smith punt return late in the game set up the tying touchdown for the Chiefs. The Bengals scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to tie Miami at home, 17-17. The Raiders defeated the Houston Oilers, 13-10, overcoming 4 interceptions thrown by Daryl Lamonica. In Denver, Floyd Little rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown as the Broncos beat the Patriots, 24-14.

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