The Raiders saved their best for last, turning in a dominating performance, including 31 fourth quarter points, to beat the Broncos 48-10.
The morning’s discovery of damage to Candlestick Park’s goal posts led to some frantic activity, but repairs were completed by game time. The Broncos came to town with a 4-8-1 record and had gone seven games without a win. The Raiders at 5-8, with a three-game losing streak of their own, needed a win here to avoid the Western Division basement. With these modest stakes on the line a crowd of just 5,159 showed up to see the locals end the season in style.
After the Oakland defense forced a three-and-out on the opening drive, Tom Flores and the offense moved to the Denver 11 in 12 plays where Larry Barnes opened the scoring with an 18-yard field goal. Later in the period, the Broncos evened the score with a 37-yarder from Gene Mingo. Babe Parilli replaced Flores after that but couldn’t get his team in the end zone. Eddie Erdelatz sent Flores back in with about five minutes to go in the second and the team promptly responded going five plays to score, with Flores getting the last few inches on a sneak.
Down by seven, the Broncos crafted their own touchdown drive, scoring on Frank Tripucka’s rifle throw to Lionel Taylor from six yards out. With just 1:23 left in the half, the Raiders weren’t done. A Flores-to-Charlie Hardy pass netted 42 yards, putting the ball at the Denver five. It took four more plays to get there, but Tony Teresa carried it over from the one with just 18 seconds left to give the Raiders a 17-10 lead at halftime.
The third quarter was a scoreless affair. The Raiders opened the half with a 14-play drive that took them to the Bronco one, but a holding penalty and two Denver sacks pushed them all the way back to the 33 and Barnes missed a field goal attempt from the 40. The Broncos threatened to score, too, but a promising drive was snuffed out by Eddie Macon’s ninth interception of the year. The Raider offense drove the Denver six by quarter’s end, setting up a final flurry of activity.
The last quarter of the year started out modestly enough with a Barnes 28-yard field goal on the second play. Then, from punt formation, Denver’s George Herring mishandled the snap and was tackled by Riley Morris turning the ball over to Oakland at the 21. The Raiders quickly capitalized with Flores’s second touchdown run of the day, from the seven. On the next drive Joe Cannavino intercepted Tripucka’s second-down pass and with the aid of Taylor’s personal foul penalty, it was Raider ball at the Denver 10. Parilli returned to the game and drove the ball to the one before getting his own rushing touchdown on a quarterback sneak and the Raiders now led 34-10.
For a time, Denver stanched the flow. The Raiders did get close enough to let Barnes try a 52-yarder, but it fell short. By now, Herring had come in for Tripucka and was able to run some time off the clock before turning the ball over on downs at the Bronco 49 with under four minutes to go. But on the next play, Nyle McFarlane beat Bob McNamara deep and Parilli hit him for a 51-yard touchdown pass. Herring’s next pass was intercepted by Alex Bravo and Parilli turned it into another scoring toss, this to Hardy for 20 yards. The Raiders recovered a Bronco fumble on the next play, but finally, there was no time left to score again and they had to settle for a 48-10 final.
Domination was complete. The only bright note for the Broncos was that Tripucka managed to get 133 yards passing, good enough to push him to 3,038 for the season, the first time a pro quarterback had ever broken the 3,000-yard mark. But that was it. The Raiders amassed 532 total yards, including 220 on the ground, to the Broncos 211 yards with just 19 of those coming on the ground. The Oakland defense had five takeaways, including four interceptions.
Flores and Parilli split quarterbacking duties more or less evenly. Flores completed 9 of 14 passes for 145 yards and Parilli went 10-for-20 for 167 yards but threw two interceptions. Billy Lott’s 19 carries for 87 yards and Teresa’s 23 for 75 led the way on the ground. Hardy’s four catches for 91 yards topped all Raiders, capping off a fine last month of the season for him.
Denver’s rushing leader, Dave Rolle, who carried for an even 100 yards, in the teams’ first meeting was held to just 20 yards on three carries. Tripucka threw three interceptions to go along with his 133 yards on 29 passes, completing 14 of them. Herring completed just 5 of 13 for 78 yards and a pick. Ken Carpenter managed to have a solid day in defeat catching seven passes for 87 yards.
The win boosted Oakland’s record to 6-8, a mark that all considered to be far better than expected at the beginning of the year and a source of satisfaction. The Broncos dropped to 4-9-1, a half-game behind Boston for the worst record in the league.
Erdelatz was all smiles after the game. “It was a real good win,” he said. “It didn’t look too good before the season, starting late and everything, but we fooled the experts by not landing in the cellar. It was the biggest challenge I ever had. I’m just glad things turned out so well. Right now it’s hard for me to select any outstanding players in this game so let’s just say that they all played well.”
Turning his thoughts toward next year, he said, “I have no comment on my plans for next season. I want to work now on getting the boys jobs between seasons.” Remarking on his team’s prospects for 1961 he said, “The other teams in the American Football League are ahead of us again. They have already started signing their draft choices. I understand that Denver and Los Angeles have signed six. We haven’t signed any. We won’t even get to terms with our draft choices until after Monday’s owners meeting.”
Denver head coach Frank Filchock was notably less enthusiastic. “The Raiders just got hot on us, that’s all,” he said. “They’re a lot better club than when we played them in October, but then of course we had Al Carmichael and Frank Bernardi with us. Now they’re both out with broken legs. Tripucka wasn’t passing well, so when he twisted his ankle I decided to give him a rest. Give the Raiders credit, though, they really played well.”
The only injury of note for the Raiders was to Tony Teresa, who was hurt returning a punt. He would now have the entire off-season to recuperate.
Hayward Daily Review
Official American Football League gamebook
San Francisco Chronicle