RB Nick Bell sprints down the sideline to pick up important yardage.
The Seattle Kingdome was an especially challenging place for the Raiders to play. Heading into the 1991 visit to the Pacific Northwest, the Silver and Black had a league record of 4-8-0 on the Kingdome carpet.
TE Ethan Horton runs after making one of his nine receptions in Seattle.
This visit would be a big game. The Raiders were 3-3-0 after the first six games of the '91 season and could afford very few losses in their remaining ten league games if the team wanted to reach the playoffs. The Seahawks, under ninth-year Head Coach Chuck Knox, were also 3-3-0 at this point in the '91 season and hungry for a win at home to remain in the race in the highly-competitive AFC Western Division.
HB Marcus Allen was out of action for the Raiders as he was placed on the injured reserve from early in the season. G Max Montoya was also not available for the Silver and Black.
The Seahawks scored on their opening possession, getting a 36-yard field goal from K John Kasay, to take a 3-0 lead early. Then a fumble by HB Roger Craig cost the Raiders the ball and put Seattle to work at their own 37. QB Jeff Kemp took advantage of the turnover and, two plays into the second quarter; connected with WR Louis Clark on an 11-yard touchdown pass.
The Raiders came up short on a 56-yard field goal try on their next series and then lost the ball on the next possession on a Steve Smith fumble. The Raiders defense stiffened and stopped Seattle on the Los Angeles 11 on a fourth-down run, with DL Scott Davis leading the charge. But a Seattle interception of an errant Jay Schroeder pass got the ball back for the home team. Lionel Washington, reliable veteran cornerback, evened the interception score, however, picking one off deep in Raiders territory.
DE Howie Long applies pressure to the Seahawks QB during the Sunday Night action.
Things got worse before they got better for the Raiders. Schroeder, attempting to hit sprinting WR Sam Graddy, was intercepted by CB Patrick Hunter on the Raiders 32. Hunter brought it back for 32 yards, seven points and a 17-0 lead for the Seahawks.
Terry McDaniel stands over Ronnie Lott who just made a key interception at the Seattle 19-yard line to set up the winning field goal in OT.
Seattle hoped to widen their margin after recovering another Raiders fumble on the Los Angeles 25. This time they failed as Washington made his second interception of the game, this one on the Raiders five. A Schroeder pass to HB Nick Bell moved the ball into a safer area and a booming punt by Pro Bowl-bound Jeff Gossett relieved the pressure.
As the teams entered the dressing rooms at halftime, the Seattle Seahawks led the Los Angeles Raiders, 17-0.
These Raiders believed they could change the direction of this game. "At halftime we talked about digging deep down," recalled Head Coach Art Shell. "We talked about pride; we talked about poise and all the things about Raider commitment to excellence.
I told them, 'You guys are going to have to play the best football that you have ever played in your life. You guys are going to have to play a perfect second half in order to win the game. You are going to have to show the kind of character and toughness we have.'"
The Raiders listened to their Head Coach and came out to play for the second half. DT Bob Golic and S Ronnie Lott made key stops during the Seahawks initial second half possession and a 21-yard punt return by Tim Brown started the Raiders drive to the end zone.
Raiders defenders Anthony Smith, Tom Benson and Eddie Anderson close off possible running lines for the Seahawks ballcarrier.
Bell, a 250-pound rookie running back out of the University of Iowa, took over at tailback. In the Raiders march, Bell carried five times for 30 yards. Schroeder completed five passes for 46 yards with the fifth completion good for eight yards and a touchdown to TE Ethan Horton. After 39 minutes and 15 seconds of play the Raiders were finally on the scoreboard, but still trailed Seattle, 17-7.
WR Tim Brown scores on a 12-yard pass to tie the game 17-17 in the fourth quarter.
A sack by DE Greg Townsend helped halt the Seahawks next series. A driving 60-yard punt by Rick Tuten started the Raiders deep in their own end of the field. Runs by Bell and passes by Schroeder to Horton and to Mervyn Fernandez positioned the ball on the Seattle 29. Jeff Jaeger drilled a 47-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. Seahawks 17 – Raiders 10.
Raiders defenders Winston Moss, Tom Benson and Ronnie Lott stack up the Seahawks ballcarrier.
On their next offensive possession, the Raiders drove 73 yards in 11 plays to tie the score at 17-all. Key plays were passes to Fernandez – one for 11 yards on a third-and-seven and the second on a fourth-and-one for 24 yards. Then, on a second down from the Seattle 12, Schroeder passed to Brown for the touchdown.
The Seahawks, responding to the cheers-and-jeers of the sellout crowd, rallied. A 52-yard pass from Kemp to WR Brian Blades put them in scoring range. LB Winston Moss stopped Kemp short of a first down and Coach Knox took the field goal route on a fourth-and-three from the Los Angeles 27. Kasay's 45-yarder was true and the Hawks went back on top, 20-17, with just 2:04 left to play.
But the Raiders came back on Schroeder passes to Fernandez, Brown and Smith. Finally, with just six seconds left, kicker Jeff Jaeger – a local hero when he played in Seattle for the University of Washington – made good on a long, 49-yard field goal to tie the score at 20, and force a sudden-death overtime.
The Seahawks won the coin toss and received the kickoff in the overtime period. On a third-and-one from the Seattle 43, Lott and S Eddie Anderson stuffed the ball carrier for no gain and forced the punt. After the fair catch by Brown, the Raiders started on their own 24 – and stayed there. Stopped by the Seattle defense, the Raiders punted. Jeff Gossett boomed a 61-yarder – longest of his career with the Silver and Black – and the Seahawks had to start from their own nine-yard line.
On second-and-seven from the 12, Kemp looked right and passed to Blades, but Lott was there to make the interception. It was Raiders ball on the Seahawks 19. Lott had sensed the play coming, cut in front of Blades, and made the play.
"Ronnie Lott has always been a big-play guy," commented Coach Shell. "It was great anticipation and reaction on his part. He read it and went and got the football."
K Jeff Jaeger puts his foot into a 37-yard field goal attempt to win 23-20 in overtime.
Jaeger's winning 37-yard field goal came on the next play. "As soon as I hit it, I knew it was good," said Jaeger. "The tension was on the one at the end of regulation time. That was the tough one." Raiders 23 – Seahawks 20.
"One of the best all-time regular season wins I've ever been a part of," said Lott. "It was a great comeback – one of the best ever. Everyone really pulled together."
"One key thing you get out of this kind of win is that your young players get to experience a major comeback," said Howie Long, an 11-season pro. "Comebacks may be commonplace to us older Raiders but they are sort of like bungee jumping. You really can't explain it until you've experienced it."
And over the years, over four unforgettable decades, no one has experienced more of these classic comebacks than the Raiders.