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The 1976 Raiders have moved past the 1985 Bears in the NFL.com Greatest Team of All Time bracket. Now they look to do what the 00 Raiders were unable to do-beat the 2000 Ravens. That was the year Ravens nose tackle Tony Siragusa belly-flopped on Rich Gannon, knocking him out of the game and the Raiders out of the playoffs. In the process, the 76 Raiders can be named the Greatest Team of All Time.
NFL.com is asking fans to cast their votes to help them determine the greatest team of all time. They picked the 64 best teams of the Super Bowl era, and throughout the month of March they are asking fans to cast their votes as they go round by round through their NCAA tournament style bracket to determine the fans' selection as the greatest team of all time.
Voting ends on Wednesday, March 30 at 2pm PST. You can vote as many time as you like (two words: refresh button)
The '76 Raiders came in as a 5 seed and have now beaten out the '08 Steelers. ‘ 93 Cowboys, '78 Steelers, '99 Rams and ‘85 Bears. The bracket began with all three Super Bowl winning Raiders teams but the '80 and '83 Raiders were both knocked out in the first round. The '80 Raiders lost out to the '04 Spygate Patriots and the '83 Raiders lost out to the '66 Packers. So the '76 Raiders are the only team left in the tournament.
The '76 Raiders now face the '00 Ravens for the right to be called the Greatest of All Time. The '85 Bears were very much deserving of being in the final four. But the same can't be said for the 00 Ravens. So the 76 Raiders will do much like they did to win the championship-they will face their toughest competition in the semi-final round. That season the real championship was when the Raiders beat their rival Steelers to move on to their first Super Bowl by rolling over the Vikings.
The '76 Raiders were a complete team on both sides of the ball with several Hall of Fame players as well as players who should have been Hall of Famers. While Hall of Famer Gene Upshaw and three time Super Bowl winning center Dave Dalby opened run lanes for Mark Van Eeghen, Clarence Davis and Pete Banaszak, Hall of Famer Art Shell protected Ken Stabler's blindside allowing him to surgically carve up opposing defenses in the passing game with Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff, Cliff Branch and Hall of Famer Dave Casper.
On defense there were legendary players who struck fear into opposing offenses. Guys like John Matuszak, Phil Villapiano, Hall of Famer Ted Hendricks, Hall of Famer Willie Brown, George Atkinson, and Jack Tatum. And then you can add in All Pro punter Ray Guy.
The 76 Raiders team is the only team from the 70's or prior to make it into the final four. It is simply a case of most fans of the NFL not being old enough to remember the teams of the 70's.
The 00 Ravens had a great defense with one of the worst offense in Super Bowl history. Mush like the 99 Rams of whom the 76 Raiders already moved past, they were not a complete team. Their offense was led by Trent Dilfer who practically invented the term "game manager" and made it into the negative term that it is today.
The Ravens moved past the more worthy 84 49ers to move into the Championship game. So while the team itself may not deserve to be here, the fans are clearly making a very strong effort to get their undeserving team to keep moving past better teams in the bracket. Raider fans are going to need to go hard the next couple days to make sure they can't steal the championship.
Rich Gannon and the 00 Raiders are counting on you. Don't let them down.