The Raiders had a chance to put themselves in a position for the stretch run and crashed hard. In front of 15,075 fans in the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Chargers thumped the Raiders 52-28. Quarterback Jack Kemp connected for long touchdowns to Don Norton and Paul Lowe in the first quarter and the Chargers scored twice on the ground – runs by Kemp and Howie Ferguson — and kicked a field goal in the second. The Raiders scored just once on a Jetstream Smith one-yard run in the first and the teams went into the locker room at halftime with the Chargers up, 31-7.
Lowe scored again in the third to extend the lead before Tony Teresa’s outstanding 11-yard, one-handed catch in the end zone made it 38-14. Billy Lott’s touchdown and two-point conversion in the fourth brought the Raiders to within 16, but Fred Ford scored for Los Angeles and Doyle Nix intercepted a Babe Parilli pass and returned it all the way to put the game well beyond reach. A Parilli-to-Doug Asad touchdown late ended the scoring and the Chargers coasted in.
The game set a handful of league records including the Chargers’ 52 points and the teams’ combined 80 points. Lowe ran for 149 yards on 26 carries setting another AFL mark. The win put the Chargers at 7-4, two games up on the 5-6 Raiders and Texans with just three games to play. The Raiders and Chargers would meet again in a week up in San Francisco.
Eddie Erdelatz was disappointed, but not surprised: “I’ve said all along the Chargers were great and if they ever put a game together, look out. I rated them the best when the season began and I’m not changing my opinion now. The Chargers had a major reason for winning and were red hot. I only hope they simmer down a bit next week.”
That major reason was the death of Ralph Anderson, less than 48 hours ago, and that was the topic of discussion in the Chargers locker room. Referring to a report that the team had dedicated the game to their teammate, head coach Sid Gillman said, “They didn’t say they’d merely dedicate the game, they said they’d dedicate the victory to Ralph. They were quiet as mice before the game and I was scared to death they’d go on the field and get slaughtered. I couldn’t have blamed them if they had got beat 52-28.”
The win came at quite a physical cost to his players, though. Linebackers Paul Maguire and Ron Botchan suffered serious injuries, as did defensive backs Bob Garner, Bob Zeman, and end Howard Clark. Gillman was unfazed. “I won’t be overly concerned with injuries if we keep the tremendous spirit we had against Oakland,” he said. “We might, too, because every member of this team is deeply touched by Ralph’s death and also vitally concerned over his (three-year-old) daughter. Jack Kemp and Paul Lowe were fantastic. Kemp was completely downhearted at the death of his buddy, yet he called his best game of the season. Lowe played his best game by far. He’s learned to follow his blockers carefully and once he gets daylight, as he did today, he’s gone.”
Lowe’s 149 yards on the ground contributed to the Chargers’ 539 total yards on offense, including a whopping 31 first downs. Kemp completed 13 of 25 passes for 307 yards with Dave Kocourek’s five catches for 81 yards and Norton’s four grabs for 119 yards leading the way.
For the Raiders, whose only injury was a possible sprained ankle for Alan Goldstein, it was Tom Flores behind the wheel most of the way, completing 13 of 24 passes for 119 yards, with many of his incompletions coming on dropped passes. Lott, despite the loss, had a nice day on the ground, going 77 yards on eight carries.
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