Some things just never get old. Even if they are, well, old.
Such is the case with the bitter rivalry between the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs. How far back does this hate affair go? Before yours truly was born. Hell before any player on either current roster was born. Before the stadium they are playing in this weekend even existed.
(For more on Raiders-Chiefs, click here)
The very first time they met on a football field (September 16, 1960), they belonged to the American Football League, and the Chiefs were known as the Dallas Texans. Al Davis was an offensive end coach for the Los Angeles Chargers.
Sunday will be the 97th time the Raiders and Chiefs have shared the same field. (For those of you wondering if my math skills are slipping; the 1982 strike wiped out one of their games). 42 contests have been decided by seven points or less (not counting their two ties), including 12 in this decade alone. In fact a grand total of 88 points separate these teams over those 96 previous battles.
There was a time that Oakland had a stranglehold on this rivalry. At the end of the 1980's they held a 34-23-2 edge. Since then they've gone 10-27. Their success rate in close contests seems to be directly correlated to how they have fared overall. They were 13-7 through 1989 in games decided by a touchdown or less, and are a woeful 5-17 since.
A series like this deserves to be broken down by decade. Without further adieu:
The American Football League was only one week old when the Raiders faced off with the future-Chiefs for the very first time. Dallas won 34-16 in a game played at Kezar Stadium, but Oakland avenged that defeat with a 20-19 victory in Texas. Dallas triumphed in the clubs' next four meetings, and put an exclamation point on the 1962 season with a 20-17 overtime win over Houston for the league championship. But it wasn't enough for Lamar Hunt (co-founder of the AFL and owner of the Texans) to keep from moving his team to Kansas City the following year.
Meanwhile the Raiders were playing "home" games at Kezar, Candlestick, and Frank Youell Field before settling in to their new home, a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Their first game came on September 18, 1966- against the Chiefs, naturally- but Kansas City spoiled the inauguration with a convincing 32-10 win.
More exciting changes for Oakland and the AFL were forthcoming. Lamar Hunt was responsible for coming up with "Super Bowl" as a way of naming the AFL-NFL title game, and was instrumental in the merging of the two leagues. Hunt's Chiefs and Al Davis' Raiders represented the AFL in three of the first four Super Bowls.
Oakland closed the 1960's by beating the Chiefs six times in seven tries, not counting a 41-6 thumping in the 1968 playoffs. Both teams finished 12-2 that year but the Raiders owned the tie-breaker. Oakland (12-1-1) secured its third straight AFL West title the following season with a pair of close wins over Kansas City (11-3). But the decade ended in bitter disappointment as the Chiefs scored a 17-7 victory on the Raiders' home turf and went on to win Super Bowl IV. Kansas City hasn't been back to the championship game since.
From a rivalry standpoint, it would be an understatement to say the teams were evenly matched. They went 10-10 head-to-head, 5-5 at home, 5-5 on the road.
Two of the first three games between the Raiders and Chiefs ended in a tie, fitting all things considered. But this was the decade where Oakland begsn to pull away, though KC did not go down without a fight. Not at first anyways. The Silver & Black won six AFC West titles in the first seven seasons of the 70's, culminating with their first Super Bowl victory. Kansas City was the only non-Raider team to finish first during that time span- in 1971- and the teams finished 1-2 in the division eight consecutive years from 1966-73.
The Raiders rattled off seven straight wins over KC, but as they did to close the 60's, the Chiefs delivered a not-so-sweet 70's send-off. Though Oakland ruled the rivalry this decade (12-6-2, 8-1-1 at home), they were swept in the season series in '79, a year that saw them miss the playoffs by one game.
The contest in Oakland- which I attended- was a particularly bitter pill to swallow. Facing a 4th-and-goal at the 1-yard line, the Raiders opted for a game-tying field-goal. But Jim Breech missed the chip shot, as the Chiefs celebrated their good fortune.
Oakland opened the 80's with a 27-14 win at Arrowhead in miserable heat, but it was a 31-17 loss at home to the Chiefs one month later that altered their season. Quarterback Dan Pastorini suffered a broken leg that day, and he was replaced by Jim Plunkett. The rest, my friends, is history, as Plunkett led the Raiders on a magic Super Bowl ride (he'd do it again three years later).
There wasn't much for Chief fans to cheer about in the '80's, save for one lone playoff appearance in 1986, the team's first since 1971. But it was one-and-done for KC as they lost in the wild-card game to the Jets.
The Raiders extended their dominance over the Chiefs with a 12-7 record, leaving them with an overall mark of 34-23-2.
And then it all came to a halt. Kansas City won the first four games of the 90's by a total of 14 points, thereby setting the tone for the next two decades. On the last game of the 1991 season, the teams met up in (cough) LA for the right to host the following week's wild-card matchup. The Chiefs won both games (27-21 and 10-6).
The clubs split the season series in 1992, but Kansas City reeled off a rivalry-tying seven straight victories. LA, Kansas City, Oakland; the venue simply didn't matter.
Finally on a rainy Monday night in Oakland, the Raiders broke their losing skid with a 26-7 win on December 9, 1996.
The feeling of euphoria was short-lived as the teams met on another Monday evening in September of the following season. This was the game that future Raider Andre Rison broke our hearts, reeling in the winning touchdown as time expired. This began another five-game losing streak to Kansas City.
But on the last day of the 1999 season (played in KC on January 2, 2000), the Raiders returned the favor for those earlier decade-ending heartbreakers. Joe Nedney's 33-yard field-goal in overtime sent Jon Gruden into a frenzy and the booted the Chiefs out of the playoffs. Sweet revenge!
'Twas a shining moment in an otherwise downer of a decade. The Raiders went 3-17 (2-8 at home, 1-9 away), including 1-9 in games decided by seven points or less.
The Nedney kick temporarily changed the dynamics of the rivalry, as the Raiders opened with four straight wins, and five in six games. They had won three-straight three-point games at Arrowhead, their former House of Horrors. And they sloshed their way to a 24-0 shutout on the last day of the 2002 season to secure home-field advantage in the playoffs (they'd go on to Super Bowl XXXVII).
But once again Raider fortunes took a turn for the ugly, and their games against the Chiefs were no exception. Kansas City won the next nine encounters (a rivalry-record). Eight of them- including the first seven- were decided by a touchdown or less. Going into Sunday's game, they have lost five in a row at home. I have been to every one of them.
Bad times, on the other hand, have come in abundance. Mostly in close games.
There is, of course, a reason to have hope, as the Raiders have won the last games against the Chiefs, both on the road, including a 23-8 spanking in September. There is a golden opportunity to seize on the success of last week in Denver and improve to 8-10 against KC this decade, and close the overall gap that shouldn't have gotten so bad in the first place.
They say the rivalry is as dead as the teams themselves, despite all the close games. Whatever. Try telling that to the Raider Nation.