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THE DEFENSE NEVER RESTED

11/17/12

Author: Bob Moore | Posted on: 11/17/12

Often lost in the events leading to and including the Chiefs victory in Super Bowl IV was the team’s upset win over the Oakland Raiders on the road in the final AFL championship game of the league’s ten-year existence.  Oakland had won the two previous in-season games against Kansas City that year, 27-24 at Municipal and 10-6 in a mid-December clash at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and, to no one’s surprise, was favored in the title contest and confident enough to have had its players have their bags packed in order to leave for New Orleans immediately after the game.

The rubber game between the Chiefs at 12-3 and the Raiders at 13-1-1 would come to be considered by many pundits as a much more physical, if often sloppier-played, game than the Super Bowl.  Found in the vast underground of Chiefs memorabilia was a quote sheet (generally provided to media who had covered the game but in the case of haste to turn out their copy to their editors couldn’t get to every player and coach in the aftermath of a crowded and joyous locker room. Hence, the helpful sheet of remarks.)  Here are excerpts from quotes pulled from that locker room – some from the Chiefs and some from the Raiders – as the AFL concluded its final contest.

This was very much a defensive game with a final score of 17-7 and quarterback Len Dawson had no problem admitting it.

“The defense was put to the test beyond anyone’s expectations and [it] did the job again and again,”

Dawson said following the game. “The big difference was the pass rush out of the front four.  Aaron Brown, Buck [Buchanan], Curly [Culp pictured here] and Jerry [Mays] really put the pressure on [QB Daryl] Lamonica.

Dawson was right to credit the defense since he had at one point in the game thrown seven straight incompletions. The Raiders offense, by comparison, had good field position throughout the game’s first half and in the third quarter chipped away with short passes but failed to score on two field goal miscues.

“We couldn’t give them the breaks or opportunities,” admitted Oakland coach John Madden.  “That was the story of the game and the thing that led to our downfall.”

The other story was AFL Player of the Year QB Daryl Lamonica’s injury. Enjoying a solid outing all day, he jammed three fingers on his throwing hand on what he believed was “Aaron Brown’s face mask or helmet on [a] follow-through.”  By his own admission, he didn’t have the “zing” on his throws and from then on only completed three of 18 passes.

For his part, Brown was enjoying his best day while crediting the field conditions at Oakland’s always sloppy coliseum for some of his success.  That, and the fact that, “I wasn’t bothered by nagging injuries. This was the biggest [game] I’ve ever played in,” he remarked later in the locker room.

Lamonica’s successor, ageless George Blanda, moved Oakland to the Kansas City 24-yard line but on a slant pass to Warren Wells, who slipped, Emmitt Thomas made a key uncontested interception in the end zone running the ball out to the six and setting up what was to be the key offensive play in the game.

Said Thomas of his INT,

“I thought they might be going with a post-flag pattern because that was what they set up for their first touchdown. The pass rush was the key to our interceptions. The front four was fantastic.”

Thomas’ snag led to a play that remains among the Chiefs most memorable in history, especially their history against the rival Raiders.

Dawson’s pass to Otis Taylor on the sideline was not the one he wanted to throw.  He wanted to isolate someone in the middle of the field and had split his halfbacks outside to get defender and former Chiefs defensive back Dave Grayson out of there.  It was third-and-14 when primary receiver Bobby Holmes was bumped over the middle and Dawson saw Taylor streaking down the sideline.

“I saw Otis and I threw the ball so if he didn’t get it, it would go out of bounds,” Dawson said “but he made a fantastic catch and stayed in bounds,” or so he believed. The Raiders sideline had a different take but the Chiefs countered that he had been shoved there anyway.

Play deteriorated down the remainder of the contest as Kansas City fumbled three times deep in its own territory while Oakland turned the ball over on three interceptions.

Lamonica’s injury had hurt the favored Raiders but Madden would hear none of it in a dejected locker room.

“Remember that the Chiefs won without Dawson during the season,” he reminded media. “I’m sure Daryl’s hand bothered him, but that’s no excuse.”

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