The 5-7 Raiders came back from ten points down to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold on as the 6-6 Titans scored late and won 31-28 at Candlestick Park. The weather was mild but with the team out of the running a disappointing crowd of only 9,037 showed up to watch an exciting game.
The Titans came roaring out of the tunnel and dominated the first quarter. On the second play from scrimmage Art Powell went long, caught Al Dorow’s pass at the Oakland 40, and dodged various members of the Raider secondary for a 73-yard touchdown. While the Raider offense stumbled repeatedly, the Titans entered Oakland territory twice more and only Bill Shockley’s errant kicking foot kept his team from expanding their lead further.
It wasn’t until just before the end of the quarter that the Raider found their sea legs and embarked a ten-play drive resulting in Nyle McFarlane’s nifty 14-yard touchdown catch of a Tom Flores pass to even the score. The Titans responded to that bit of spirit by driving 89 yards in return, scoring on Dorow’s 12-yard keeper up the middle. Neither team accomplished much more before the half, though the Titans did get Shockley another chance on the last play. John Harris blocked his 31-yard field goal attempt and the Raiders were down just 14-7 at the interval despite a subpar effort.
The Raiders received the kickoff to open the third quarter and Jack Larscheid lit a fire under his team with a 78-yard kickoff return. Flores, who had been replaced by Babe Parilli midway through the second, was back in and missed on his first pass. His second pass found Charlie Hardy on the goal line and tied the game. Again, though, the Titans replied to a Raider touchdown with one of their own. Shockley’s nice kickoff return, though not up to Larscheid’s effort, gave his team a short playing field. Dorow passes leavened with Dewey Bohling’s hard running moved New York to the Raider five where Charley Powell’s little brother Art caught his second touchdown of the day, beating Eddie Macon to the ball in the end zone. Later in the quarter, Shockley finally punched one over the crossbar, a 27-yarder, and the Titans led 24-14.
Then Tony Teresa began to have a day. Catches of 14 and 46 yards helped move the Raiders to the Titan one-yard line in the waning seconds of the third and the Oakland halfback finished the job by carrying it over behind left guard Don Manoukian. The Raider defense stuffed the Titans’ next drive and, now in the fourth quarter, the offense got a big break when Dick Felt’s pass interference penalty against McFarlane put the ball on the New York five. In three plays, the Raiders had taken the lead on Teresa’s tough three-yard catch for a score. Oakland had a chance to break it open with good field position to start their next drive, but a Flores pass to Doug Asad went awry, ricocheting into the sky, and came down in the arms of Titan linebacker Larry Grantham.
This time it was the Titans getting a timely flag. On a third-and-ten Dorow’s incomplete pass was redeemed by a pass interference call against an unidentified Raider to extend the drive. Several plays later, from the Oakland 17, Dorow passed to Bohling in the end zone just as Bob Daugherty lost his footing. The Titan fullback made the grab and recaptured the lead for his team.
With just 4:12 left, the Raider offense took over and quickly dug themselves a fourth-and-15 at their own 20. Eddie Erdelatz, perhaps unwisely given the time left, opted to punt. Dorow and the Titans ran out the clock and improved their record to 7-6.
The win didn’t do New York any good. The Oilers won their game, beating the Bills 31-23 and clinched the Eastern Division with a game to play. The Raiders were now 5-8 and would end the season playing the Broncos to avoid last place in the West.
The big star of the game was the Titans’ Art Powell. With end Don Maynard out due to injury, Powell had the field to himself, catching nine passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Though the Raider secondary tightened up their coverages a bit in the second half, Dorow filled the air with footballs all day, completing 29 of 48 passes for 375 yards. The Titan quarterback was also the leading ground-gainer for his team, getting 33 yards on nine carries and the one score.
Teresa was the star attraction for Oakland, catching five passes for 52 yards, rushing 12 times for 41 yards, and scoring a touchdown each way. He also completed one of his two passes for 17 yards. Flores had pretty good numbers, going 15-for-27 for 170 yards and three touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions, each of which led to a New York touchdown. Parilli during his brief time in the game threw just one pass, an incompletion.
Despite some excellent performances by visiting players, Raider defensive back Alex Bravo thought he knew where to place the blame for the loss. “Those mush-faced (bowdlerization in the original) officials beat us, not New York,” he said. “They called three pass interference penalties on us, two that gave New York the winning touchdown, and I still can’t understand a single one. I don’t know where they dug those officials up, but I bet they never had a football in their hands before today. I know I was really jobbed on the one involving Art Powell in the second quarter. I didn’t face guard or anything and that so-and-so official (see above) penalized me. Powell should have been called for pushing.”
Charley Powell, who suffered what appeared to be a mild knee injury during the game, agreed. “It was those penalty calls that beat us,” he said. “Our defense was just beginning to jell in the second half and then the officials took it away. I didn’t see anything wrong, but it’s like baseball. Once the umpires call a play, they won’t change it.”
Erdelatz’s take was slightly more judicious. “I can’t say anything about the officials,” he said. “It did seem New York made an unusual amount of yardage on pass interference penalties, but we got a touchdown on one of those, too. I don’t think those penalties really beat us. Our problem was fumbles, a pass defense that wasn’t tight enough, and sloppy tackling in the secondary. The thing that really hurt us was Jack Larscheid’s fumble of a punt return in the third quarter. That gave the Titans the ball at midfield and they went on to kick a field goal. They couldn’t have won without those three points.”
The Raider coach took a moment to praise Teresa, Asad, and Ramon Armstrong, though he also said that Flores had had an “off day” early on that “hurt us.” He concluded by saying, “This was our 18th game, including exhibitions, and I think all the coaches and players would like a rest. It’s been a long year. However, we’re going to give all we have to beat Denver. They beat us earlier in the season, but that was a game we gave away.”
Sammy Baugh, the Titan’s head coach, allowed that maybe the officials called “pass interference penalties too closely.” He spared a good word for his opponent’s late comeback, saying, “I thought they did a damn fine job. They never gave up.” Turning to his own team, he praised Don Herndon, who was in for Maynard, and Roger Ellis, a linebacker who ended up playing center when Mike Hudock left early with an injury.
Art Powell was a happy man after the game and spoke about the rivalry with his brother, which had been played up in the newspapers all through the week. “He (Charley) was talking a lot before the game how Oakland was going to stop me, but even though they had two men covering me, I think the statistics show I put in a fair day’s work.” Elaborating on the coverages he was seeing, he said, “They were playing me for all sorts of fancy maneuvers, but I kept them simple.” He also called Dorow “the best running quarterback in football, and that includes the National Football League.”
Hayward Daily Review
San Francisco Chronicle