NOV. 22, 1970: Raiders 20, Chargers 17 at Oakland Coliseum
The last of George Blanda's five consecutive "miracle finishes" may have been his easiest as his 16-yard field goal with eight seconds left pinned a 20-17 loss on the visiting San Diego Chargers.
The following is a copy from the Oakland Tribune archives from 1970 when George Blanda played miracle worker for the Oakland Raiders. The headline is also the one that appeared in print.
RAIDER COUNTDOWN: 12-11-10-9-8- BLANDA
Daryle Lamonica couldn't take a chance that Pat Haggerty had ever passed a course in lip-reading to qualify for his referee's stripes and Official NFL whistle.
"I took him by the arm and asked 'Is that the official time on the scoreboard, 28 seconds?," Daryle asked the ref.
"He said it was so I told him 'Watch my lips', the Raider quarterback described the next-to-last-act of the weekly special drama "Kick In Time," starring the worlds oldest gridiron thespian, George Blanda.
"I let the clock go to eight seconds, and he didn't have to watch my lips. I yelled it in his ear, 'TIME OUT,' Lamonica added. "The crowd was making a lot of noise; I guess they were getting a little nervous."
Blanda wasn't. Lamonica wasn't. Jim Otto -- who centered a high snap earlier -- wasn't. And the Oakland Raiders lead the Western Division of the American Football Conference by a full game, 6-2-2 to Kansas City's 5-3-2 and San Diego's 4-4-2.
Blanda's 16-yard field goal was a piece of cake when compared to the pressure jobs of the past four games. He drilled it, leaped into the air, and he and Lamonica embraced and were crushed into a now familiar pile of sweating Raider bodies.
A rerun script growing old but nonetheless gripping had defeated another contender, sending the improved San Diego Chargers home 20-17, cussing officials Blanda, Lamonica, Biletnikoff and everything on the East end of the Bay Bridge.
In 10 minutes, official clock time, it was history.
"These games are all tough," Coach John Madden explained. "We'd like to take a couple hours off just to think about what just happened here today, but, because we're playing the Detroit Lions on Thurday, we have about 10 minutes off. We practice tomorrow (today) we leave for Detroit Tuesday (tomorrow) and we'll be looking at their film tonight (Sunday) at about 7:00 o'clock.
But he did recount some of the game for those who might have watched in disbelief.
Someone wanted to know precisely what he told Blanda as he sent the 43-year-old kicking marvel in to win his ball game.
"I just patted him on the bleep and said 'Go Kick It,'" Madden related, ruining several tapes being prepared for post-game radio interviews.
Reporters, some of them sporting "Blanda For Mayor" buttons, surrounded the nation's most famous trucking executive and asked him the kinds of questions that live through the second edition of the day after.
No, he said, he didn't think about the possibility of missing.
"I never really think about missing," he said. "I'm always optimistic that I'm going to make whatever I kick."
But you missed a couple in the first half a realist offered.
"You had to bring that up," George said with a laugh. "If I made everything I kicked they couldn't pay me enough to keep me around here."
And Lamonica, who had held for the winning field goal after masterfully getting the Raiders from their own 27 to the enemy nine in the last 4:27 of the fourth quarter, put down any critique of his kicker.
"Those two we missed were a matter of inches from the 43 and the 41," he said. "One of them hit the upright and I thought the second one might have been good. It was close, real close."
Lamonica completed 14 of his 23 passes for 213 yards and directed a total offense of 396 yards against the Chargers, who threw a lot more prevent defense and zone coverage at Oakland than they had before.
Fred Biletnikoff, who caught six of Daryle's passes for 115 yards and figured strongly in three scoring drives, thought the QB had one of his better days.
"Several times he audibilized into a trap or quick hitting play that broke for good yardage," Fred said. "He was reading their defense real well and called good patterns that zone stuff they were using.
"We've been seeing a lot more zone, maybe 75% of the time," he added. "They were doubling on Warren Wells with two defensive backs. When they doubled on me it was with a linebacker dropping off, a lot more of it than in the past, especially down inside the 40. We were just working to get around him to the inside, finding the open spot."
It was Lamonica's last drive, in which, he whipped the coverage by firing a clutch pass to Biletnikoff, by sending Charlie Smith and Hewritt Dixon through good holes in the Charger line, and by legging off a 13-yard run of his own when the coverage took away three receivers, which sent the 54,594 home newly-singing Raider praises.
"I went to the sideline during a time out and talked over the strategy with coach Madden," he said. "We agreed we should do running the ball, and I did just that. I wouldn't say I wasn't going to pass. You've got to look at the defense; that dictates. But once I got inside their 20 there's no way I was going to put the ball in the air.
"The field goal from there was as good as a TD, a winning play," he said. "You throw it in the end zone and it gets intercepted or batted around, you second guess yourself forever, From where you were, it was like kicking an extra point."