After having appeared in the three previous AFC Championship Games – and having lost all three—the 1976 Raiders finally won the conference championship….and went on to win their first Super Bowl….ater posting a 13–1 regular season record and winning their sixth AFC West championship in seven seasons,…as the Raiders rolled to victories against the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers to achieve the second Super Bowl berth in team history….then on January 9, 1977 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA….the Raiders won Super Bowl XI by defeating the Minnesota Vikings 32–14…..when this victory had the Raiders compile a spectacular 16–1 overall record.
On March 30, 2012, the 1976 Oakland Raiders were named the greatest team of all time by NFL.com’s “Bracketology”….in a 15-day, 6 round fan vote tournament that features the 64 greatest teams from the Super Bowl era….as Oakland beat the 2000 Baltimore Ravens in the final round by a .8% margin
The Road to their first World Championship began on opening day as they faced the reigning world champion Pittsburgh Steelers in their home opener….a game in which Oakland trailed 28–14 with just over five minutes to play….then they orchestrated what many to this day refer to as their Comeback Classic of 1976….as they won 31–28 on a 21-yard Fred Steinfort field goal with 18 seconds left. What followed was a huge 5-game road trip….featuring wins over each of the Raiders’ three divisional foes….which also included Oakland’s lone loss on the year….a 48–17 shocker in New England to the Patriots….however, this would just be a preview of things to come between the Raiders and the Patriots.
Da Raiders became virtually unbeatable after the defeat….forst by returning home and cruizing to big victories….like a 49–16 stomping of the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers….along with nail biters like the 28–27 victory against a competitive Chicago Bear team at Soldier Field….and they closed out the season with a 24–0 shutout of the San Diego Chargers in Oakland.
The Raiders would end the 1976 season with a 64.3% pass completion…as QB Ken “The Snake” Stabler would complete 66.7% of his passes…..and RB Mark van Eeghan would reach the 1000 yard mark with 1012 yards….with TE Dave Casper leaing the team in receptions with 53….while Cliff Branch would lead the team in reception yards (1111), touch downs (12), and yards per reception for receivers who caught more than one pass (24.2).
From this lil ole chiweenie Sportsphile’s perspective…..da Raiders….the bad boys in Silver and Black….were just too lovable…..with The Snake (Ken Stabler), The Crane (Ted Hendricks), The Terminator (Jack Tatum), Tusz (John Matuszak, Big O (Otis Sistrunk) and Hall of Famers like Art Shell, Gene Upshaw, Fred Biletnikoff, Willie Brown, George Atkinson and Ray Guy (the greatest punter of all-time)…..how could you just not love these “Bad Boys”…and then you add in their “lovable coach” John Madden the mix…..and you have the makings of the NFL best team that fans “loved to hate….and hated to love”…..which makes this video a must see.