The High Scoring Raiders
By Peter Mann
From its initial inception back in January 1960, through that of Oakland (twice), Los Angeles, and their current residency in Las Vegas, The Team of the Decades, the Las Vegas Raiders, has always strived for greatness, dared to be great, and shown a commitment to excellence instilled by that of Al Davis.
The current, 2023 season for the Silver and Black however, like recent ones in fact, has been a little chaotic to say the least, both on and off the field at the Allegiant Stadium; however, the appointment of Antonio Pierce, as interim Head Coach, has proved, thus far at least, a popular one.
Heading into a Christmas Day clash with AFC West divisional rivals, Kansas City Chiefs, themselves flustering, Pierce is, at present, 3-3 at the helm, and goes in having seen the Raiders post the biggest score in franchise history.
Of all opposing franchises to notch up a historical high, 63-21 success against, it had to be against the Los Angeles Chargers, and they made very short work of cleaning house with their backroom staff in the aftermath of their visit to Vegas.
Down the years however, the Raiders, be they Oakland, LA, or LV, have posted some pretty high scores, with that of the Chiefs, and Denver Broncos, more the latter, on the receiving end of several dismantling defeats.
On a handful of occasions, the Raiders have posted 50+ points in a game, against the Chargers though, on 14 December 2023 that was the first time they’d broken the 60-point barrier.
So, what have been standout highs for those in Silver and Black down the years?
DENVER BRONCOS (1960)
Going back to the Nation’s very first season in what was then, the AFL, in 1960, and under the guidance of their first HC, Eddie Erdelatz (1930-1966), in what was his only season in the big leagues, he oversaw a Raiders franchise that, on 17 December, at the Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, defeat the visiting Denver Broncos 48-10.
Surprisingly, the third quarter of that contest, saw neither franchise register any points as the Raiders shut out the Broncos during the whole, second half.
It was the last game of what was to be a 6-8 season, Erdelatz only lasted two games into the next season and, after trading FGs early doors, the Raiders led at the interval, 17-10, with TDs from Tom Flores and Tony Teresa; Lionel Taylor grabbed a score for the Broncos.
Then, out of nowhere, the Raiders fired 31 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, with Babe Parilli passing for two TDs in his final outing as a Raider.
Larry Barnes kicked the second of his two field goal scores, and Tom Flores and Parilli both registered rushing TDs before Parilli wrapped things up when hitting first Nyle McFarlane, then Charlie Hardy, from 49 yards and 20 yards respectively, to complete the scoring.
The sixties was a good time for those early, Raider fans, in all honesty, as they set about making a name for themselves.
October 1963, the Raiders now under the guidance of Al Davis, defeated the visiting New York Jets 49-36 at Frank Youell Field (Oakland), then, just two days after, the highest-scoring game in franchise history saw the Raiders edge the visiting Houston Oilers.
HOUSTON OILERS - The 101-point game (1963)
Al Davis is a name synonymous with the history of the Raiders, one which runs through the very fibre of the franchise, and he, well had silver and black blood running through his veins.
As HC, in the mid-sixties (1963-65), he would be seen stalking the touchline in this game, against the visiting Oilers, on 22 October, the pair trading everything in what would finish as a 52-49 success for the Raider Nation, and some 101 points registered.
A mammoth 49 of those 101 points were registered in a manic, second quarter, as the two franchises went at it hammer-and-tongs; the Raiders led early before the Oilers burst into a 21-7 lead, a pair of Flores TD passes tied the game at 21s before a future Raider, George Blanda, and Tom Flores, began trading scores.
Art Powell came into the game on either side of the half, receiving three TD passes from Flores, the game finally being won by a late, 39-yard field goal attempt, from Mike Mercer.
Victory for Davis’ side was the last of an eight-game winning streak as the Raiders, his Raiders, went from 2-4 after week six, to finish with a 10-4 record.
Then, under John Kauch as HC, the Raiders posted a couple of 50-point games in the late sixties, particularly that 1967 season which saw them reach the play-offs for the first time, winning the AFL West, putting 40 past the Oilers in the Championship game, before losing Super Bowl II.
DENVER BRONCOS (1967)
The start of that season though saw the Raiders open with a 51-0 drubbing of the visiting Broncos, in front of nearly 25,500 spectators.
Whitewashing your divisional rivals is always a good sign, and to do so in the season opener is even better; here, on 10 September, the Raiders led by seven at the end of the first, before moving through the gears as the contest wore on.
Blanda was now in the Silver and Black and he converted five TDs, whilst also adding a 23-yard kick to his afternoon’s work; the Raiders also added three rushing TDs, including one from Daryle Lamonica, whilst Warren Powers wrapped up the victory with a 36-yard interception return.
Just six weeks later the Raiders also took care of the visiting San Diego Chargers, 51-10, in front of an impressive crowd of nearly 53,500 – the Raiders were now seen to be going places.
As was in ’67, the Raiders followed up in ’68 and, in the season opener, Rauch’s charges posted a 48-6 success against the visiting Buffalo Bills, the Nation again going to the playoffs and, in the Western Division match, put 40 past the Chiefs.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS - AFL DIVISIONAL (1968)
The Raiders had lost in the regular season, 24-10, in front of more than 50,000 at Kansas City, one of only two defeats suffered as Rauch et al posted a 12-2 regular season.
As with the Al Davis season five years prior, the Raiders then posted an eight-game winning streak to make the playoffs; the AFL Divisional game would see revenge inflicted on the Chiefs, winning 41-6 at home, on 22 December.
The majority of the Raiders, 21 in fact, were registered in a devastating first quarter, in which the Chiefs never recovered; Lamonica three for three TDs on Fred Biletnikoff (2) and Warren Wells, with Blanda successful in his conversions.
Jan Stenerud kicked a couple of goals for the Chiefs in the second period, before Lamonica hit Biletnikoff again, and Warren Wells, the latter early in the fourth, to push the advantage to 35-6; the scoring was wrapped up in the fourth quarter from the boot of Blanda as he fired home a pair of 40-yard kicks.
It all changed in Oakland after that, and for the better as well, with the arrival of John Madden to a franchise now playing at the Oakland Coliseum (1966-81, 1995-2019).
Madden’s Raiders, an era of greatness that would finally see the franchise ‘get over the line’ and win the Super Bowl, also saw several, 50-point, and a high number of 40-point, games.
HOUSTON OILERS - AFL DIVISIONAL (1969)
On 21 December, against the visiting Oilers, and in another AFL Divisional game, the Raiders having finished the regular season with six-straight successes, Madden’s Badasses set about racking up an impressive, 56-7 success.
The Raiders had only lost once in the regular season, finishing with a 12-1-1 record, and closing out on a six-match winning streak to head into the play-off clash with the Oilers, on 13 December.
This time the Raiders racked up 28 unanswered points in the first quarter, and eight, unanswered scores, as the Oilers collapsed; eight TDs were taken overall, Lamonica with an impressive five TD passes, George Atkinson with a 57-ayrd interception return in the first quarter, and Mary Hubbard wrapping up the win with a 4-yard rushing in the fourth.
A decade later with the Raiders now being guided by Tom Flores, would see the foundations set by Madden, grow brilliantly, Flores’ scoring high being the win over the Atlanta Falcons during the 1979 campaign.
Madden’s decade-long spell in charge of the Raider Nation was topped with victory in Super Bowl XI, in 1976, a 32-14 win over Minnesota Vikings; conveniently, Madden’s last success as Raiders HC, at the end of the 1978 season, was a 27-20 win at home to the Vikings, in front of near 54,600 spectators.
ATLANTA FALCONS (1979)
Flores’ first season at the helm finished with a 9-7 record, in what was certainly a hit-and-miss campaign, and, seven games in, put fifty past the visiting Atlanta Falcons, winning 50-19 on 14 October.
The Falcons failed to register across the first half, the boot of Jim Breech doing a lot of damage for the Raiders, whilst a certain Ken Stabler, along with Steve Bartkowski, threw for a pair of TDs apiece; Lester Hayes would be seen to make a dash for a 51-yard interception return in the fourth, and Mark van Eeghan added a late rushing score from close range, Lynn Cain completing with a score for the Falcons – too little, way too late.
Yes, the Raiders went on to taste success in Super Bowl XV (1980 vs. Philadelphia Eagles), and Super Bowl XVII (vs. Washington Redskins) in Flores’ nine seasons, that Falcons win was to be the highest of his reign, others seeing scores in the 40+ area until December 2000.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (2000)
Mike Shanahan, Art Shell, Mike White, Joe Bugel, and onto Jon ‘Chucky’ Gruden, who had taken the helm before the next big win at the Raiders.
Carolina Panthers were the visitors as more than 60,000 witnessed a 52-9 success, Gruden’s stars making the play-offs for the first time in six years, and claiming the first of three-in-a-row, AFC West championships.
Against the Panthers, on Christmas Eve, the arm of Rich Gannon, and the boot of Sebastian Janikowski, were certainly in fine fettle for this one; Gannon threw for five TDs whilst Janikowski kicked a 42-yard field goal and seven conversions, the last wrapping up the win following a Darren Gordon 74-yard defensive fumble return, on the buzzer – the Panthers, they were restricted to three, FG scores.
Chucky’s Raiders made the playoffs in his last two seasons at the helm before being replaced by Bill Callahan, who lost Super Bowl XXXVII to Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by, Jon Gruden; Callahan’s Raiders would post an impressive 52-25 success, on 29 September 2002, home to Tennessee Titans, and 49-31 win over Buffalo Bills in the very next outing.
Another eight coaches and fifteen years elapsed before the Raiders even reached the play-offs again, Jack Del Rio’s doing so in 2016, before a second coming of Chucky (2018-21); another couple of HCs later led us into the present hot-seat owner and Antonio Pierce.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (2023)
Onto the present-day Raiders, and, following a move to Las Vegas, and a lot of chopping and changing, the Silver and Black looked to see out the 2023 regular season in the best possible way.
With Antonio Pierce at the helm as interim head coach, following the dismissal of Josh McDaniels et al, it was always going to be interesting to see how he, and the players, would take to yet more upheaval.
They need not have worried too much, for, when the Chargers game came around, the Raiders turned up the heat, put on the after-burners, and went full-throttle into their opposition; both sides went in with the same, losing record this season (5-8) so something was going to give. Nobody could have predicted what though.
A whitewash first half had the Raiders up by 42, just shy of the all-time, NFL record of 45, the Silver and Black posting six, unanswered scores, three in the first and three in the second quarter, with Aidan O’Connell picking off four of the six, to Tre Tucker (2), Jakobi Meyers, and Michael Mayer, with Zamir White and Brandon Bolden both also making successful, TD runs, and Daniel Carlson proving pretty accurate with the boot.
The third quarter began with Davante Adams picking off a Meyers, close-range pass, to extend the lead to 49 points, before the Chargers finally got on the scoreboard, Easton Stick with a 79-yard to Joshua Palmer.
John Jenkins and Jack Jones then added two further scores for the Raiders, and Carlson’s boot finished the job; Pierce will however have been disappointed in the Raiders giving up two late scorers. It mattered not, the Raiders love a festive throw-down, and this topped them all as they ended 63-21 victors on a snappy, Thursday night in Vegas.
Feature Image Credit: AP News
PETER IS A LIFELONG SPORTS FAN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR BASED IN COUNTY DURHAM. HE HAS FOLLOWED THE NFL AND THE RAIDERS SINCE THE 1980s, AND LOVES BOTH SPORTS AND FAMILY HISTORY. PETER HAS A DEGREE IN SPORT & EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY, AND CAN BE FOUND ON TWITTER @petermannwriter