Head Coach John Rauch celebrates with Dave Kocourek after the Raiders secured a berth in the AFL Championship with a win over Kansas City. AP Photo.
On December 22, 1968, the Oakland Raiders hoped to give their fans some holiday cheer. The Raiders had made their way into the AFL playoffs for the second straight season behind a powerhouse offense led by the “Mad Bomber,” QB Daryle Lamonica.
This team came into their AFL Playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs averaging 32.4 points per game and allowing only 16.6. Many believed the Chiefs had the ability to hang around with the Raiders due to their own high-octane offense. That idea was short-lived.
Kansas City won the opening kickoff and returned the ball to their 30-yard line for pretty good field position. Chiefs RB Robert Holmes got them going with a quick four-yard run, but several more short runs followed that. After getting to their own 47, the Chiefs were forced to punt. The punt landed in the end zone and the Raiders offense took over.
After two quick incomplete passes from Lamonica, the Silver and Black’s offense got going. An 18-yard pass from Lamonica to WR Fred Biletnikoff was followed by a short two-yard run by RB Hewritt Dixon. The big play of the drive came on a pass interference penalty, which put the Raiders in Kansas City territory. Another 18-yard hook-up between Lamonica and Biletnikoff had the Raiders at the Chiefs 24. From there, it took one more pass between the QB-WR tandem to get the Raiders on the board.
Any hope the Chiefs had of answering was quickly washed away on their next possession. Starting from their own 10 and then ending up on their own two-yard line, a bad punt had the Raiders taking over at the KC 25. The Raiders picked up two yards before a Lamonica pass fell incomplete, but on third-and-eight it was Lamonica to WR Warren Wells for a 23-yard score.
The two teams would trade punts, but the Raiders had the ball one more time in the opening quarter and looked to put this game away.
With 1:02 remaining, the Raiders took over at their own 30-yard line. A simple short pass from Lamonica to RB Charlie Smith turned into a 26-yard reception that set up another long pass play. This time it was Lamonica to Biletnikoff, once again, for a 44-yard touchdown play. At the end of one quarter of play, the hometown Raiders were up 21-0.
Facing what seemed like an insurmountable deficit, the Chiefs tried to rally. Any good rallying point needs a jump-start and the opening drive of the second quarter was just that. The Chiefs put together their first decent drive of the game. Starting at their own 33-yard line, the Chiefs were led down the field by the arm of QB Len Dawson and RBs Robert Holmes and Mike Garrett. Hoping for a touchdown the visitors from Kansas City worked their way down to the Oakland three. However, that is as far as they would go as the Raiders defense stood their ground and forced a field goal. Five minutes into the second quarter, the Chiefs were finally on the board.
After an Oakland three-and-out the Chiefs had the ball once again. However, they were forced to punt, but they were able to pin the Oakland Raiders inside their own one-yard line. Lamonica tried to throw down field, but was unsuccessful and the Raiders punted out of their end zone. A short punt gave the Chiefs great field position at the Oakland 38.
A 31-yard pass completion from Dawson to WR Frank Pitts got the Chiefs inside the Raider 10. Three running plays followed that stalled the drive and the Chiefs settled for another field goal. Their inability to get into the end zone gave the Raider defense confidence in their ability to stop this Kansas City offense.
The inability of the Chiefs to score a touchdown quickly came back to haunt them as the Raider offense took the field and went on another march down field. At first it seemed like the drive would stall at the Oakland 46, but on a third-and-eight the “Mad Bomber” hooked up with Biletnikoff again. This reception went 54 yards, but still ended up as another 7 for the Raiders. Going into the half Oakland had a substantial lead, 28-6.
To this point in the game, Lamonica had completed just nine passes but had thrown for 220 yards and four touchdowns. The second half did not see the rapid fire scoring from the Raiders, but there was plenty of Silver and Black defense.
Each team had a scoring chance in the third quarter, but neither came to fruition. First, Kansas City was able to get into field goal range but K Jan Stenerud missed his 39-yard field goal attempt. For the Raiders, a fourth-and-goal at the one play saw Lamonica looking for TE Billy Cannon in the end zone, but the pass fell incomplete.
That was it for the scoring chances in the third quarter, which ended as the Raiders were driving into KC territory.
Starting the fourth quarter at the KC 35, the Raiders quickly scored another touchdown. For the second time, it was Lamonica to Wells, this one a 35-yard touchdown reception. The Raider defense gave the offense another scoring chance as CB Willie Brown picked off a Dawson pass.
The Raiders would end up settling for a George Blanda field goal after a decent drive stalled at the Kansas City 34. On Kansas City’s next drive, Dawson was picked off once again. This time by back-up DB Nemiah Wilson. Another George Blanda field goal solidified the Raider rout.
The Oakland Raiders soundly defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 41-6 and for the second straight season they would be playing in the AFL Championship game with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.