Some of the most exciting games in the history of the National Football League have been played by the Oakland Raiders and the Miami Dolphins, and most of them took place in the good old days, when the Oakland Raiders were the baddest team in the NFL.
The rivalry between the Raiders and the Dolphins is so strong that the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel has dubbed it the “NFL’s Greatest Out-of-Division Rivalry”.
Steve Svekis, who wrote the piece, has ranked the Top Five Games Between the Oakland Raiders and the Miami Dolphins.
I’ve gone through his list, and – with apologies to Steve – re-ranked these five games according to my own recollection and my standards as an Oakland Raiders fan.
21 December 1974
The Miami Dolphins had won two straight Super Bowls and wanted to make it three. The Oakland Raiders, meanwhile, wanted to avenge their loss to the Dolphins in the American Football Conference championship game the previous year.
As I recall it, fans in those days didn’t wear team colours to football games. They just wore ordinary clothes, maybe waving pennants. Word spread through the Oakland Coliseum at the previous home game to wear black or bring something black to the game against Miami as a way of showing their support for the Raiders – and intimidating the opposition.
The media picked up on the story, dubbing the game Black Sunday.
On the opening kickoff, the fans all stood up and started yelling while waving something black in the air. Miami received, running the ball the length of the field to score a touchdown. The fans hadn’t even sat down yet, and Miami had a 6-0 lead.
The lead went back and fourth several times during the game, which many believe to be one of the greatest games in the history of the National Football League. With five minutes left on the clock, the Raiders were behind. They scored, to take a 21-19 lead with less than 4 and 1/2 minutes to go. Miami scored, to regain the lead with only two minutes left on the clock.
And then a miracle happened.
Clarence Davis, who was surrounded by Dolphins in the end zone, caught an improbable pass in what has come to be known as the Sea of Hands, ending Miami’s hopes of winning a third consecutive Super Bowl.
Steve Svekis ranked this game number 3. I would have to rank it number 1.
22 September 1975
The Oakland Raiders ended the Miami Dolphins 27 game at home regular season winning streak by a score of 31-21. Steve ranked this game number 5. I’ll give it a 2. Ending a winning streak is pretty cool.
2 September 1966
The Miami Dolphins took on the Oakland Raiders at the Orange Bowl in their first ever football game. Joe Auer became a part of franchise history, catching the opening kickoff, and running the ball 95 yards to score a touchdown. Oakland took the lead with less than three minutes to go in the first half and never let go, winning the game 23-14.
Steve ranked this game number 2. I’ll give it a 3. It was the beginning of a storied rivalry.
30 January 1973
The Miami Dolphins were hoping to win their third straight American Football Conference championship. They out powered the Raiders, winning the conference championship by a score of 27-10.
Miami went on to win their second straight Super Bowl. Steve ranked this game number 1. I’ll give it a 4. I’m a sore loser.
19 September 1983
The Miami Dolphins were trailing by a score of 27-0 with 5.07 remaining on the clock. They managed to score two touchdowns, but still lost the game to the Raiders by a score of 27-14.
The Raiders went on to win the Super Bowl, their only Super Bowl win during their 13 year road trip to Los Angeles. Steve ranked this game number 4. It’s always nice to win, but this game was a bit lop-sided. I’ll give it a 5.