Welcome to third and final edition of our look at the Oakland Raiders Super Bowl Championship teams to help us along on our quest to determine the greatest Raider champion of all time we arrive at the....
1983 Los Angeles Raiders
Welcome to the Hollywood edition of the Raiders Super Bowl Champs. This franchise made the switch from Oakland to Los Angeles more than in just name. In a lot of ways the players and the identity of the franchise did too. Compare this team to the 1976 Raiders and you'll see what I mean.
I think some of it has to do with the growing profile of the NFL and the transition of the game, but some if is is just these guys adjusting to the L.A. life. Also helping this process was that the fearless leader of this ship, Al Davis, was wrapped up in a high profile court battle with the league.
Even their record reflects it. In a lot of ways this may be the Raiders most dominant and unbeatable team. This team romped through the playoffs like few ever have. Their closest game was a 30-14 victory over the Seahawks in the AFC Championship game, and they had a 20-0 lead at halftime in that one. Yet this team lost four regular season games, including two to those Seahawks, and one to the team, Redskins, they destroyed in the Super Bowl.
And there is few things more L.A. than that. Great L.A. teams have a knack for putting it on cruise control in the regular season, and losing games they shouldn't, and then flipping the switch for the playoffs.
Jim Plunkett had one of his more efficient seasons as he completed over 60 percent of his passes, but he still managed to complete 18 passes to the other team. A huge part of Plunkett's increased completion percentage was no doubt a function of his leading receiver, Todd Christensen. Christensen caught 92 passes for 1,247 yards and 12 touchdowns. Jump over....
Working the tight end into the passing attack to this degree gave the Raiders offense a more possession feel than past teams. Still, the Raiders '83 offense began and ended with Marcus Allen. Allen rushed for modest 1,014 yards on 3.8 yards per carry in the regular season, but he also chipped in another 590 yards in receiving. Unlike past Raiders Super Bowl teams Marcus Allend didn't have the luxury of running behind Art Shell and Gene Upshaw. The one holdover from the line was center Dave Dalby. The offensive line was solid, but it was not the brute force it had been in the past.
It was in the playoffs where Marcus Allen really began to dominate. In three playoff games Allen had 486 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns. That included 368 yards on 58 carries. Running the ball in the playoffs is not supposed to be that easy, and running backs numbers almost always go down. Yet if extrapolated those numbers over a 16 game season, Allen would have gained 2,592 yards from scrimmage and 1,963 of those yards would have come on the ground.
And, of course, Allen left his impression of dominance in the 1983 postseason with more than just stats:
This is a great highlight of the play we all know. We get to see the Raiders stuff the Redskins on fourth down the play before. We then get the run and the great replay from the camera directly behind the line where you can see the absolute genius of Marcus' cut, after he had reversed his field, to find the seem up the middle. Having John Madden talk about it always helps too.
On the other side of the ball this was a complete and well balanced defense. Howie Long and Lyle Alzado formed one of the baddest 3-4 defensive end combos ever. The linebacking corp remained almost completely in tact from the excellent 1983 edition. And the secondary was as bad as ever. Especially in the second half of the season.
The Raiders acquired Mike Haynes ten games into the season from the New England. The cornerback tandem of of Haynes and Lester Hayes was too much for oppositions to handle, and for good reason. This is one of the more daunting corner tandems in the history of the league. Throw in Vann McElroy's pro bowl play at free safety and you have an epic secondary.
You put all those pieces together, and you have a complete and dominant team. The Raiders scored at least 30 points in all three playoff games and they only allowed 9, 10 and 14 points. Also the Super Bowl victory set up one of the more memorable post game celebrations as Pete Rozelle had to hand the Lombardi trophy to the man he was locked in a contemptuous court battle with, Al Davis. Check it out:
Check out the awesome America's Game episode of the 1983 Raiders. Howie Long, Jim Plunkett, Todd Christensen and Marcus Allen take us through this one.