On a rainy Friday night in the Big Apple, the Raiders staged a ten-point comeback in the fourth quarter to beat the New York Titans, 28-27, before 10,000 spectators at the Polo Grounds. The Raiders entered the game coming off their worst loss ever, a 38-9 beating at the hands of the Bills. At 3-4, they had fallen back to the pack after challenging the Broncos for the Western Division lead just a week ago. They did come into the game mostly healthy, though. Larry Barnes, Tom Flores, and Charley Powell had all been suffering from various forms of mild illness in recent days but would be ready to go at game time. Read more “October 28, 1960”
Head coach Eddie Erdelatz called it “far and away our worst performance” and he wasn’t kidding. On a damp, blustery day in Buffalo, the Bills hit on big play after big play and thumped the Raiders 38-9. The lowering, gray skies and steady light rain kept attendance down to a paltry 8,876, but those who did show up saw their team at peak performance.
The Raiders, at 3-3, came into the game as one of the hottest teams in the AFL and a win, coupled with a Boston win over the Broncos, would move them to the top spot in the league’s Western Division. The Bills, at 1-4, entered the game with the league’s top defense, but with an offense that hadn’t found much success. They had made a change at quarterback just a week ago, picking up Johnny Green, a Steelers castoff, and started him in place of Tommy O’Connell, an old Browns hand. In that game the Bills lost a tight one to the Titans, but head coach Buster Ramsey was encouraged by his play and planned to keep him in there against Oakland. Read more “October 23, 1960”
The Patriots hadn’t lost a game on the road and the Raiders hadn’t won at home, but that was all out the window at the end. It was probably the Raiders’ best game to date, but they were also lucky to get away with a 27-14 win over the Patriots on an unseasonably warm afternoon at Kezar Stadium.
Almost immediately, things began to go Oakland’s way. On the second play from scrimmage at the Raider 13, Jack Larscheid, starting in place of Tony Teresa, took a pitch from Tom Flores and took it 87 yards for a score. And if that weren’t a rousing enough start, Ron Burton fumbled on Boston’s first offensive play and Carmen Cavalli recovered for Oakland at the Patriot 31. Flores couldn’t move his team much closer and the score stayed 7-0 when Larry Barnes’s 40-yard field goal attempt came up short.
Most of the rest of the quarter was a punting duel. The Patriots did get close enough to give Gino Cappelletti a chance to kick one from 47 yards out, but his attempt was short, too. Frustrated with Flores’s inability to move his team after the first drive, Eddie Erdelatz put in Babe Parilli late in the quarter, but on his second play Bob Soltis picked him off and returned it back to the Raider 9. Three plays later, Alan Miller took it in to score from the 2, but Riley Morris, in the game despite numerous reports saying he wouldn’t play, blocked Cappelletti’s extra point attempt and the Raiders kept the lead. Read more “October 16, 1960”
Eddie Erdelatz decided to give his players the day off before tomorrow’s game against the Patriots. “Our Saturday work is limited to 20 minutes and experience has taught us the drill isn’t necessary,” he said. “When a team comes off the road, say, on a Friday before the game, then a Saturday workout is in order. But we have been home all week and I think we’re better off without the Saturday practice.”
The Raiders coach confirmed that linebacker Riley Morris would miss the game. “Riley was kneed in the back when he ran with a kickoff return against Dallas,” Erdelatz explained, “and he will have to sit this one out.” Tom Louderback would slide over to Morris’ right linebacker spot and Larry Barnes would get the start at Louderback’s middle linebacker position. On offense, halfback Tony Teresa would see only spot action because of his back woes and Jack Larscheid would start the game in his stead.
Having seen poor attendance at Kezar Stadium since their first game in July, the Raider front office was anticipating improved numbers starting tomorrow. “We hope for a crowd of 15,000,” said general manger and co-owner Chet Soda, “but a lot depends on the weather.” Their best attendance total to date was the 12,703 figure for their regular season opener against Houston.
In public relations news, the team announced that Erdelatz and his staff would provide a pair of football clinics for local area kids in November. They would happen on the 19th and the 25st and were to take place at Triangle Field, adjacent to Kezar. The sessions were part of a project sponsored by former major league baseball players Mike Sabena and Lefty O’Doul in conjunction with the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Board.
Hayward Daily Review
San Mateo Times
It started out slowly enough but got wild in the second half. The Texans got on the board first with a long drive in the second period, but Oakland head coach Eddie Erdelatz gave his team an ass-chewing at halftime that spurred them on to a 20-19 nail-biting victory over the Texans in Dallas.Read more “October 9, 1960”
The Raiders hosted the Dallas Texans on a cool, breezy Friday night at Kezar Stadium. The Texans were coached by Hank Stram, last seen as an assistant at the University of Miami, and were led on the field by quarterback Cotton Davidson, who had taken the field briefly with the Baltimore Colts in the mid 1950s. The Texans had gone through the preseason with a perfect 6-0 record, but lost to the Chargers in their season opener, 21-20. Read more “September 16, 1960”
The glad day had finally arrived. A crowd of 12,703 fans came to Kezar Stadium to watch the Raiders host the Houston Oilers, a team coached by old Cleveland Browns warhorse Lou Rymkus and led on the field by quarterback George Blanda, a veteran of ten campaigns with the Chicago Bears. The weather was fine, if windy, and after long months of preparation and sweat, the locals in black were ready to embark on their big adventure. Read more “September 11, 1960”
On game day, Raider head coach Eddie Erdelatz was still shuffling players right up until the 8pm kickoff. The biggest news was that Babe Parilli would start over Paul Larson at quarterback. Parilli and Larson were competing to be Tom Flores‘ understudy, as Erdelatz had indicated he would only carry two quarterbacks on the roster in the regular season, but Parilli wasn’t ready to accept second place yet. “I’m going to try and play some football for Oakland. I wouldn’t be here if I had lost my enthusiasm for the game,” he said.
After three games, with a 1-2 record, the Raiders were a definitively middling team. All three games were close and the team’s point totals on both sides of the ball were near the league median. The Raiders had significantly outscored their opponents in the first and fourth quarters, but the reverse was true in the middle two periods and they had yet to score at all in the third. Yes, it was the preseason and this was all meaningless, but the Raiders were thought to be under a real handicap because of their late start and to see them play competitive ball was both a relief and encouraging.
Overall, the Raider play calling on offense was balanced, with a 98 to 104 run/pass ratio, but the running game was lagging behind at this point, with the team averaging less than 3.5 yards per carry. Only Jack Larscheid, with his 6.3 yard average, was anything more than workmanlike in the run game. Billy Lott and Buddy Allen were given the lion’s share of the work in the backfield, but Lott’s pass catching ability gave him the advantage when it came to competing for a starting spot. Tony Teresa was the only other runner getting a serious look, but he, too, was more effective catching the ball and, in fact, was going to get his reps in at the flanker spot going forward, at least until tight end Gene Prebola returned from injury.
As for the quarterback spot, there was no competition. Eddie Erdelatz had to all intents anointed Tom Flores the starter and, despite his recent injury, he would presumably get his job back as soon as he returned. In the meantime, Babe Parilli and Paul Larson would fight over the scraps.
The biggest area of uncertainty, though, was at wide receiver. Prebola was the tight end, by default, and Charlie Hardy seemed to be taking the split end spot as his own, but the other side was still up for grabs. Teresa was working there for now, but the team’s long-term plans for him were still unclear. He had thrown a few halfback passes and was adequate catching passes coming out of the backfield, but he was woeful in the running game, averaging just a couple of yards per carry and was often stuffed behind the line.
On the offensive line, only 5’9″ Don Manoukian was mentioned with any regularity in press dispatches, so it was hard to tell what was going on there. It was clear, however, that the offense was still very much a work in progress.
The Raider defense was in the same boat. They were good at getting the ball from their opponents—eight turnovers in three games—but they were giving up a lot of yards otherwise. Opponents were averaging nearly a yard more per run and better than six yards a clip through the air, and the Oakland rush had sacked opponent quarterbacks only once for a paltry five yards.
On the defensive line, end Carmen Cavalli was getting the most attention, but it was clear that the unit wasn’t getting it done. Among the linebackers, Bob Dougherty and Tom Louderback seemed to be doing a fair job, but still needed to get stouter against the run. And in the secondary, cornerback Joe Cannavino was rising above the crowd in pass coverage and was showing a nose for loose balls.
Erdelatz appeared to have settled on linebacker Larry Barnes to do the placekicking. He was true on extra points and was okay so far on field goals as well. Halfback Wayne Crow had laid claim to the punting job with his 45-yard average. The return and coverage teams were performing within expected norms.
The consensus among observers was that the Raiders had beaten expectations so far. They held their own in preseason losses against the Texans and the Chargers, teams that were thought to be title contenders and, above all, they hadn’t embarrassed themselves. And it was clear that many people thought they would. They were about to face a pretty stern test of two games in five days, but they were also in a position to get a good feel for the players who, to this point, hadn’t played all that much. After that, they would have two full weeks to get ready for the Oilers in the regular season opener.
It was one of those late August evenings in San Francisco where the first hint of autumn chill reminded everyone that summer doesn’t last forever. A stiff breeze off the water was present as usual, but there was a thick fog filling the bowl of Kezar Stadium that refused to budge. It was hard to know if it was the weather that kept people away, or if it was simple disinterest, but just 6,521 curiosity-seekers came out to watch the Chargers play the Raiders in the first meeting of these California rivals.