NOV. 8, 1970: Raiders 23, Browns 20 at Oakland Coliseum
Following his 52-yard field goal with three seconds left that beat Cleveland, Raiders radio announcer Bill King excitedly proclaimed, "George Blanda has just been elected King of the World!"
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.
ANCIENT SAVIOR'S ONE-LEGGED MIRACLE
Time and George Blanda are doing strange things to John Madden, coach of the Oakland Raiders at the tender age of 34.
"This old horsehockey about being the youngest coach in pro football is over now, I guarantee you," he said after watching his ancient savior work another miracle as time died.
"With George Blanda this is getting to be old hat. People ask 'Are you surprised?' and hell, you can't be surprised any more," he continued. Then in response to a question about Blanda's kicking range:
"With Blanda you learn not to think in those terms," he said. "When it's fourth down and you've got five seconds you got to kick it and you have to believe it's in his range."
"And the guy -- 43 or 44 or however the hell old he is -- is an amazing guy and he doesn't cease. He comes in there and throws touchdown passes, kicks 50-yard field goals...I don't know. It's just what you have to get done," he continued. "He'll do it."
The coach, who wasn't old enough to play with the big kids when George was being drafted for the pros, had a right to think history was an instant replay, going right down to the wire two weeks in a row with ageless George.
"When I saw that big Jack Gregory jump George and start a shoving match, I was sure of it," he said. "I could see a guy throw a flag, then a guy jumping on top of our guy, and away we go."
But, even without a free for all to top it off, the 23-20 win over the stubborn Cleveland Browns was another all-league clutcher.
"If you got heart trouble this is not the place to be," guard Gene Upshaw said after the ball game. "Stanford appreciates this; they get a lot of practices on cardiac arrests out of this place."
If so, Blanda must have a pump like an astronaut. He didn't seem to think the 52-yard field goal was all that much, glad though he was to see it boom over the yellow crossbar.
"I always feel we can make anything we try, he said. "If that's what it takes next week again, and we're put in the same position, I just hope the Good Lord is with me and I get as lucky again."
But George, who looks like a good bet to be good from the 50 the day he turns 50, may feel his winning 52-yarder spoke his own little rebuke to management.
He's not sure why they were not among the cardiac arrest risks, hardly daring to believe.
"No I don't kick that long in practice," he said. "Very seldom do they let me kick beyond the 50. We tried some and we were unfortunate that we didn't make them so they ... well, they just don't want you to try from back there unless you absolutely have to.
It's better to punt, and get the field position than to try from back there," he explained the coaching point of view, "because you can get one blocked a little easier on a long field goal. You usually kick it lower from back there."
Theories, schmerories, with the game going in the books as another tie-thanks to Ol' George who'd got them that just a minute and 27 seconds earlier with a TD, his first miracle of the day -- George took his best shot and the fans went ape.
They had roared with cheers when he came in early in the fourth quarter when Daryle Lamonica was decked by a pair of big Browns, cheered him lustily as they had greeted Gentle Ben Davidson during pre-game introductions. With the kick they exploded into 54,463 individually-pitched bellows.
The players themselves, old pros and young rookies, swarmed George like so many college kids, and Madden rushed into the swarm of black-jerseyed studs to pound as many backs as he could reach.
Even among the Raiders, George is something special.
"This guy almost embarrasses you, the way he's out there running the wind sprints with us, yelling all the time, coming in to pull it out," said captain Jim Otto, a mere kid though he's a 10-year veteran himself.
How many ways can you say "amazing, simply amazing."
Blanda was, he said, more confident of this 52-yarder with :07 on the clock than he was last week lined up with :08 left and a 48-yard kick to make.
"In Kansas City I was on the sidelines, really chilly, and I came in cold after having time to think about it," he said. "But when you're in the game you're concentrating on playing, your warm and your loose. I knew what I had to do and I concentrated on it.
"I didn't kick it any different than the one in Kansas City ... Well, maybe I put a little more rear-end into it," he said.
Rookie quarterback Kenny Stabler, who held the ball for George in the absence of Lamonica, leaped straight into the air when the long-range shot cleared the bar amply, but he said later it was his second thrill of the day.
"I was impressed even more with what Blanda did before the field goal, maneuvering the team into position to kick it," he said.
Indeed, with the Cleveland rush holding the advantage knowing George had to on his 69-yard touchdown drive and on his scrambling, banging need to utilize the last 34 seconds to get within field goal range, the grizzle-bearded gent earns the Oscar.
"It's tough, really very tough, to beat a guy on pass protection play after play when he knows you're going to set up and throw the ball," Upshaw said from a lineman's standpoint.
There's no way you're going to beat a guy down in and down out every play of every game, but we like to think we can and that's what we strive for," he said. "It's tough to be perfect, to protect your quarterback your quarterback then, because those other guys are professionals too.
"We got the job done. I figure we won more than they did, we kept them out when we had to," he said. "We won the game."
A big game. But Old George deserves the last word even on that:
"I've played in many big games and I've had many thrills," said the man who's in his 21st season of professional football. "But this one's over with. It's what you can do tomorrow that's really important.
"Every game to us is important. We're planning to win our division and get into the Super Bowl and we've got to win every week, regardless if it's my kick or whoever does what," he said. "I'm just happy in this one I could contribute something."