On to Las Vegas

As the Patriots embark on another trip to Las Vegas after making the same one a year ago, they might want to forget a few things. First off, they need to put the last two games in the rearview mirror. Doing just that, we won’t mention those again. They also need to forget about how last year’s game in Las Vegas ended – who could forget Chandler Jones catching an ill-advised lateral in the game’s final seconds and running over Mac Jones on his way to a game-winning touchdown. So we’ll forget about that too.

Live in the present. New England is 1-4, but those games, too, are behind them. In fact, the Patriots haven’t been 1-4 since 2000 when they lost their first four before winning in Denver on the way to a 5-11 season. Wait… live in the present… live in the present… live in the present.

The present situation is that Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels is 2-0 against his old boss, and his old boss could really use a win.

OK, enough of the present. We are all about history here. We’ll let Bill Belichick and his players worry about the present. We’re going to the past. The two teams are old rivals dating back to the American Football League’s launch in 1960. In fact, the first meeting between the two teams was a 27-14 Raiders win in San Francisco on Oct. 16, 1960. The Patriots won the next four, and seven of the next eight in the series, before Oakland controlled the match-up at the end of that first decade.

The Patriots first regular season home game at their new home in Foxborough – Schaefer Stadium – back in 1971 was a 20-6 win over the Raiders with rookie quarterback and first overall draft pick Jim Plunkett leading the charge for New England. Of course, Plunkett later won two Super Bowls while calling signals for the Raiders.

There have been some memorable and controversial games in the series (we aren’t talking about the 2022 meeting anymore). But 1976? The Raiders lost one game in 1976 and it was a 48-17 thrashing to the Patriots. The 11-3 Patriots then traveled to Oakland for the playoff rematch and led the game 21-17 late in the fourth quarter. The Raiders faced a third-and-18 play from the New England 27 late in the game when Raiders QB Ken Stabler heaved an incomplete pass that landed nowhere near intended target Carl Garrett. Referee Ben Dreith threw a flag on the play and called Ray “Sugar Bear” Hamilton for roughing the passer. In an attempt the block the pass, Hamilton’s hand grazed Stabler’s helmet, which, back in 1976, was a much more controversial flag than it might be today. A few plays later, Stabler ran in the winning touchdown with 10 seconds left. Oakland went on to the win the Super Bowl and the Patriots left with a bitter taste in their collective mouths.

The 1985 Patriots got a small measure of playoff revenge when they went to Los Angeles and forced six turnovers in a 27-20 AFC Divisional Playoff win. New England became the first team in NFL history to win three road playoff games to reach a Super Bowl that season.

But when it comes to controversy, it was the 2001 Patriots-Raiders AFC Divisional Playoff game that might fall into the “payback” category for 1976. That, of course, is the infamous Tuck Rule game. The Patriots trailed, 13-10, with 1:50 left in the game and had a first down on the Oakland 42 at snow-covered Foxboro Stadium. That’s when Charles Woodson blitzed off quarterback Tom Brady’s right side and hit Brady after Brady had started a passing motion, but appeared to be pulling the ball back down rather than throwing it.

The play was a ruled a fumble, which the Raiders recovered. It would have ended the Patriots season. Instant replay, however, invoked the tuck rule, which stated that any intentional forward motion by the quarterback’s throwing arm started a forward pass and if the ball came out during that, it is ruled incomplete even if the quarterback lost the ball while trying to tuck it back toward his body.

The Patriots retained position, Adam Vinatieri made a game-tying 45-yard field goal a few plays later, and the Patriots won in overtime, 16-13, in the last game ever played at Foxboro Stadium. Like the 1976 Raiders, the Patriots went on to beat the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game and eventually win the Super Bowl.

So, needless to say, there is some history between the two clubs. The Patriots lead the all-time series, 20-16-1 and had a six-game series win streak snapped last year.


The series:

  • The Patriots lead the all-time series, 20-16-1
  • The Patriots longest winning streak against the Raiders was six games (2005-2020)
  • The Raiders longest winning streak against New England is four games (1967-1969)
  • The Patriots are 12-5-1 at home and 8-11 on the road in the series
  • The Patriots won the only overtime game in the series, 16-13 in the 2001 AFC Playoffs
  • The Raiders won the last meeting
  • The series dates to Oct. 16, 1960 (a 27-14 Raiders win in San Francisco)
  • The Raiders largest margin of victory is 34 (48-14 road win on Oct. 22, 1967)
  • The Patriots largest margin of victory is 31 (48-17 home win on Oct. 3, 1976)