With only a few home games remaining, it’s time to look back at the incredible history the Oakland Raiders have made in the Coliseum. While a shadow of the marvel it once was, there are few stadiums in the world that have seen as much history as “the Black Hole” has since it was erected in September of 1966. As time runs out on the Oakland Raiders, we’ll revisit some of the best memories in the stadium’s great history before each of the last five home games.
Coliseum Dreaming: Finally Beating Pittsburgh
The rivalry between the Oakland Raiders and the Pittsburgh Steelers basically defined the AFC during the 1970’s. Chuck Noll’s Steelers and John Madden’s Raiders were basically two sides of the same coin, and played in six of the ten Super Bowls played during the decade, winning all of them.
To this day, John Madden has the highest win percentage of a coach with at least 100 games under his belt. That’s higher than Don Shula, Bill Belichick, Bill Walsh, and Vince Lombardi. Madden was the king of the world… but he struggled against Pittsburgh.
Madden lost five of his first eight games against the Steelers as Oakland’s head coach, in heartbreaking fashion. The five losses were by an average of only a touchdown, including three times in the playoffs, most notably the 13-7 loss during the 1972 playoffs, known infamously as the “immaculate reception” game. As good as Madden’s Raiders were, they simply couldn’t get past Noll’s Steelers.
So when the Black and Yellow came to town on the day after Christmas, 1976, Raider Nation feared it would be more of the same. The Steelers were good too, featuring the NFL’s number one ranked rushing offense, and a fierce defense led by Defensive Player of the Year, Jack Lambert. It had been two long years since the Raiders captured a regular season win over the Steelers, so meeting in the 1976 AFC Championship game, the Silver and Black were hungry.
Because regular season wins were nice, John Madden had plenty of those. But if he didn’t capture a Super Bowl, his legacy would always be that of second best.
Unlike many of the best games in the history of the Raiders, this was no close bout. The Steelers were without both leading rushers, Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier, but it didn’t matter. This Raiders squad was a team of destiny. The Raiders went up 10-0 early, and after the Steelers managed to put together a scoring drive, the Silver and Black added another 14 points, putting the Steelers away for good.
The three-headed attack of Mark van Eeghen, Clarence Davis, and Pete Banaszak put up over 200 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns, all-the-while keeping future Hall of Fame quarterback, Terry Bradshaw out of the endzone.
This game finally got the monkey off of John Madden’s back, sending the Raiders to Super Bowl XI, where they dismantled the Minnesota Vikings, winning 32-14, highlighted by an iconic play, from an iconic corner, wearing an iconic number, with an iconic call that Raider Nation can mimic in their sleep.