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.
Early in the second quarter, Flores returned to the game, but the Patriot defense forced another punt. However, Dick Christy fumbled Wayne Crow’s boot at his own 40 and the Raiders capitalized. On second down from the 36, Flores found Gene Prebola cutting across the middle at the 20 and hit him in stride. The Raider tight end took it from there to the end zone and the Oakland lead was eight.
Following the ensuing kickoff, the Patriot offense, led by Butch Songin, put together their first significant drive of the game. In 12 plays, they advanced to the Raider 28, but the Oakland defense finally held, and when Cappelletti came in to kick, the Boston center botched the snap and the Raiders took over on downs. The Oakland offense flipped the field right back on an 11-play march, aided by a pair of nice catches by Doug Asad, and scored on Al Hoisington’s first touchdown of the year, a ten-yard pass from Flores.
Down 21-6, the Patriots weren’t ready to give up. Christy returned the next kickoff to the 43 and drove to the Raider 4 before disaster struck again. On third down Christy got the call and looked like he was going to score, but Tom Louderback knocked the ball free just before he crossed the line and Joe Cannavino recovered in the end zone.
Cappelletti intercepted Flores a few plays later, but Alex Bravo intercepted it right back for Oakland, and the Raiders were able to run out the clock to halftime, still up by a pair of scores.
After the interval, the Patriots came out with a renewed commitment to their running game, and drove it to the Raider 1, where Songin took it across on a quarterback sneak. Boston lined up to kick the extra point, but head coach Lou Saban called for the fake. Cappelletti took the direct snap and carted it around the right side for two points.
The remainder of the third quarter was filled with mistakes. Cappelletti intercepted Flores twice, giving him three for the game, and Miller fumbled the ball away when Boston had possession. Going into the fourth quarter, the Raiders still led, 21-14.
On the second play of the period Boston punter Tom Greene launched a 66-yard boot to clear the ball from deep in Patriot territory. The Raider offense drove it right back across midfield and from the 40, Billy Lott took a pitchout from Flores down the right side of the field and scored. Tom Addison blocked Barnes’ point after kick. Still, that marked the end of the road for the Pats. Parilli returned to the game to close it out, but threw another interception. It didn’t matter, though, because the Raider defense came through with two interceptions of their own, including Eddie Macon’s fourth of the year, and that was it.
After the game, Saban offered mild praise for his opponent. “The Raiders were up and we had extended ourselves last week against the Chargers,” he said. “They have two fine quarterbacks…and when you have two quarterbacks like that, you are going to win.”
He put much of the blame for the result on the referees, saying an illegal use of hands penalty against center Walt Cudzik in the second quarter “killed us” and also took issue with the call on Christy’s first miscue arguing, “I thought the whistle had blown before the fumble.”
Much of the talk in the Boston press after the game was about former Boston University Terrier Gene Prebola, who caught four passes for 59 yards and a score. Before the game, Patriot backfield coach Mike Holovak had said, “Prebola has really surprised me. He’s turned into a really fine pro end. BU’s offense didn’t feature passing, so I didn’t know he was such a good receiver. I hope he doesn’t hurt us today.” The newsies were quick to remind him of his words.
Erdelatz chose to ignore his team’s five interceptions and focus on the good stuff. “It was another great team effort, ” he said. “I just hope we can keep on going from here. They’re beginning to put together more of a game now. They’re playing sixty minutes of football now, where they were playing a quarter or a half. With the attitude they have, they have to turn out to be all right. But we’ll just play them one at a time.”
The Raider coach praised Larscheid and Lott’s performance along with his offensive line and on the other side of the ball emphasized the effort of his secondary and linebackers, especially Morris, who had a sack and a blocked extra point to his credit. “He wanted to play even though he wasn’t up to par physically,” he said. “It was surprising how well he did.”
For the second straight week, it was indeed the defense who stood out, forcing seven Boston turnovers and pressuring Songin mercilessly. The Patriots quarterback completed just 11 of 32 passes and threw three interceptions. Jim Colclough was his top target catching three passes for 40 yards. Bright spots for Boston were Cappelletti with his three picks and Alan Miller who gained 93 yards on 15 carries.
In the other locker room, Flores was starting to gain the upper hand in the quarterback competition. He did throw three interceptions but he completed 14 of 24 for 161 yards. Parilli, by contrast, hit on all three of his throws, but two of them were to the other team. The real strength on offense was the running game. They gained a team record 225 yards, led by Larscheid’s 89 yards on two carries, and Lott’s 63 yards on nine carries. The team was especially effective on third down, succeeding on 8 of 14 tries.
With the win, the Raiders evened their record at 3-3, putting them in a second place tie with the Chargers in the Western Division, just a half-game back of Denver. But they would immediately embark on another three-game road trip, this time to the East Coast to meet the Bills, Titans, and then the Patriots again in Boston.
For the Pats, the loss dropped them to 2-3, good for third in the Eastern Division and they would travel to Denver next to play the Broncos.
Boston Daily Record
Hayward Daily Review
Official American Football League gamebook
San Mateo Times