Saturday, October 4, 2008

Super Bowl II: Raiders vs Packers

Super Bowl II is a long forgotten contest played by two iconic, old school football teams: the Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders. Everyone expected the Packers to win and they did, methodically and convincingly with long drives, chipping away with field goals and the occasional TD.

We all know about the Packers offense and Bart Starr. For their part, this was a pretty good offensive starting lineup for the Raiders:
SE Bill Miller
LT Bob Svihus
LG Gene Upshaw
C Jim Otto
RG Wayne Hawkins
RT Harry Schuh
TE Billy Cannon
FL Fred Biletnikoff
QB Daryle Lamonica
HB Pete Banaszak
FB Hewritt Dixon

The Raiders limped into Super Bowl II. The entire team was really banged up after a very physically exhausting 13-1 regular season. Their one loss came against the Jets. The high margin of victory (40-7) in the AFL championship game against the Houston Oilers does not reflect the fatigue the team experienced. Getting to this Super Bowl took just about everything they had. Both the Raiders and Pack had three weeks rest before the game. The Raiders main loss to injury was running back Clem Daniels. With Daniels in top form, the Raiders running game had tremendous speed to compliment their power with guys like Pete Banaszak and Hewritt Dixon. An overall healthier Raiders team may have given the Pack a better game.

Super Bowl II was not Daryle Lamonica's best day as he threw an unfortunate interception returned for a TD which sealed the game. The Pack's defense played very well all game in fact. Other highlights include Ben Davidson knocking Bart Starr out of the game. Though by that point the Raiders were down 19 points (26-7). This game was never really in doubt. The final score was 33-14 Pack. It was Vince Lombardi's final game as head coach.

John Madden was a Raiders assistant coach in Super Bowl II. Bill Walsh would have been but he left the Oakland Raiders coaching staff prior to the 1967 season to be head coach and general manager of a semipro franchise, the San Jose Apaches. Al Davis was just a few weeks removed from his stint as AFL commissioner and was still solidifying his executive authority with the Raiders. Despite the Raiders' success in getting to the Super Bowl and head coach John Rauch being AFL Coach of the Year, relations between Al Davis and John Rauch was never strong and in fact, had deteriorated over the course of the 1967 season. After leaving his post as AFL commish, Al sought to establish his executive command and set his sights on getting rid of Rauch the following season in 1968.

In 1968 the Raiders went 12-2 and lost to the New York Jets in the AFL Championship game. The Jets went on to beat the Baltimore Colts in the historic Super Bowl III. The Jets were a fierce AFL rival so the sting of finishing the 1968 season on a sour note was tough for Al to take. No matter how many times the Raiders beat the Jets from that point forward it did not remove the crushing blow of that particular loss in the AFL 1968 Championship game.

The Raiders always felt they should have been the AFL representatives in Super Bowl III. They wanted another shot after getting beaten by the Pack the previous year. Al Davis couldn't let it go. Head coach John Rauch was fired after the 1968 season, replacing him with John Madden. Rauch ended up in Buffalo and would never again come close to the type of success he had with the Raiders.

It would take Al Davis, John Madden and the Raiders eight more seasons to get back to the Super Bowl.

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