What, a blown call? Raiders fans can relate

September 26, 2012, 3:54 pm
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Forgive the denizens of Raider Nation if they give a collective sigh and a hearty "so what" to the recent botched ending of Monday Night Football by the replacement referees.What, a team as celebrated and as venerated as the Green Bay Packers got hosed by an egregious call that cost them a game? Welcome to our world, was being shouted from the mountain tops of Silver and Blackdom.REWIND: NFL releases statement on Packers-Seahawks blown call
Hey, it's not paranoia if they're out to get you, right? At least, that's how the saying goes. And it got me to thinking of calls that have have gone against the Raiders. No, not the ham-and-egger numbers like San Diego's Vincent Jackson rolling the ball forward and it being called an illegal forward pass in 2006. Or the Louis Murphy touchdown catch that wasn't in 2009, against those same Chargers.We're talking all-time greats that altered the course of pro football history and have Raiders fans thinking they should have at least five more Lombardi Trophies. So without further adoThe Otis Taylor One-Foot-Inbounds Catch
It's Jan. 4, 1970, the last AFL game ever played. The Raiders are playing host to Kansas City at the Coliseum and the winner would go on to face Minnesota in Super Bowl IV.The Raiders had already played in Super Bowl II, lost the AFL title to Joe Namath a year later and on this day were locked in a 7-7 game early in the second half, with the Chiefs at their own two-yard line facing a daunting third-and-14. But Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson spied Otis Taylor down the left sideline, just beyond Raiders cornerback Willie Brown, and hurled it.Taylor made a remarkable one-handed catch for a 35-yard gain, even if he only had one foot inbounds. Which would be fine in college but not in pro ball. The Chiefs would continue their drive and score what would prove to be the winning touchdown in an eventual 17-7 victory before going on to throttle the Vikings in the last Super Bowl played before the AFL-NFL merger.The Immaculate Reception
It's Dec. 23, 1972, the divisional round of the AFC playoffs and Ken Stabler had scored on a 30-yard run with 77 seconds to play at Three Rivers Stadium to give the Raiders a 7-3 lead.And with the Steelers looking at a fourth-and-10 from their own 40 with 22 seconds to play, what happened next will be debated until the end of time.Terry Bradshaw heaved a pass downfield toward Frenchy Fuqua but Jack Tatum arrived just as the ball did, resulting in a violent collision. The ball popped up and back, where an onrushing Franco Harris plucked it out of the air -- or did it hit the turf first? -- and rumbled in for the game-winning score.The question, though, was off which player did the ball ricochet? If it was Fuqua, then Harris' catch would have been illegal. If it bounded off Tatum, then the play was clean.There was a lengthy discussion as to whether the play was a TD or not and the refs called the supervisor of NFL officiating from a dugout phone to confer. There were also tales of the refs calling the police department to ask if there was enough protection from Steelers fans if they ruled it an incompletion. Shockingly (add sarcasm font here) It was ruled a touchdown and the Steelers had their first-ever playoff victory. They would go on and lose the AFC championship to undefeated Miami but Pittsburgh would go on to win four Super Bowls in the decade.The Rob Lytle Fumble
It's Jan. 1, 1978 and the defending Super Bowl champion Raiders are in the AFC title game at division rival Denver. The Broncos already lead 7-3 and have a first-and-goal at the two-yard line midway though the third quarter.Broncos running back Rob Lytle dives into the pile and is stopped midair by Jack Tatum and the ball pops out. Mike McCoy scoops it up and is gone, 10-7, Raiders, right?Um, no. Lytle was ruled to have been down, that his forward progress had been stopped, before the ball squirted free, despite replays showing that not to be the case. The Broncos go on to score and hold on to win, 20-17, before getting pummeled in Super Bowl XII by the Dallas Cowboys.The Siragusa Flop
It's Jan. 14, 2001, early in the second quarter of the AFC championship game at the Coliseum, and Baltimore had just taken a 7-0 lead on a 96-yard pass play from Trent Dilfer to Shannon Sharpe. And on the Raiders' ensuing play, Rich Gannon throws an incompletion to James Jett and 330-pound (on a light day) nose tackle Tony Siragusa tosses Rich Gannon to the ground before coming off the figurative top rope with a literal body splash that would make Vince McMahon smile. Both literally and figuratively.No flag is thrown.Instead, Gannon writhes on the ground and is knocked out of the game for the rest of the half. In comes Bobby Hoying ,who promptly throws an interception that leads to a Ravens field goal. Gannon makes a game effort to return in the second half but is obviously in pain still and struggling and replaced again by Hoying. Ballgame.The Ravens, with a defense reminiscent of the 1985 Bears, go on to beat the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV and the Raiders, who go ultra-conservative with Hoying under center, are left to ruminate another missed call. Until the mother of all hose jobs goes down in the New England snow a year and five days later.The Tuck Rule
It's Jan. 19, 2002, the final game at Foxboro Stadium and it's a winter wonderland for this AFC divisional playoff game, being played in a blizzard.The Raiders are clinging to a 13-10 lead with 1:50 to play and New England is at the Raiders' 42-yard line on first-and-10 when Tom Brady drops back to pass. Charles Woodson comes in on a corner blitz, hammers Brady, the ball pops loose, Greg Biekert recovers and the Raiders are headed to their second straight AFC title game.Then, it happens. Because the play occurred with less than two minutes remaining, it was automatically reviewed by the Review Assistant and the Tuck Rule is invoked, despite there being no clearcut evidence to overturn the original ruling on the field of fumble. The Patriots retain possession, drive to the Oakland 28-yard line and Adam Vinatieri boots a 45-yard field goal through the snowflakes to tie the game with 27 seconds left in regulation.The Raiders sit on the ball on their ensuing possession and never see the ball again. The Patriots win the toss, drive to the Raiders' five-yard line and Vinatieri's 23-yard field goal not only ends the game, but jumpstarts New England's dynasty of the new millennium. Helped, of course, by the Tuck Rule and SpyGate. But that's a different topic for a different day.From the Raiders' perspective, the Tuck Rule Game was Gruden's last as Raiders coach as Oakland would not see him until a year later in Super Bowl XXXVII, when Gruden's Tampa Bay Buccaneers walloped the Raiders, 48-21, and Oakland has not been back to the playoffs since.