Ramble 101: The Sea of Highlights

The Raiders have lots of time in highlight reels, for various reasons. Recently many of those have been for the wrong reasons. The teams of late are in good company with the butt fumble, Jim Marshall’s returned fumble to the wrong end zone, DeSean Jackson dropping the ball an inch before the goal line, and the Fail Mary.

But there is a large catalog in the Raiders’ vault that top the list of best moments in NFL history. The team is responsible for a bevy of plays that any football fan should be aware of.

The Sea of Hands

December 21, 1974 – The Oakland Raiders were facing the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Divisional game. The game was a back and forth contest that you would expect and hope to see in a playoff game. The Dolphins opened by running the kickoff back for a touchdown. Things were looking bleak for the Raiders early in the game but after a Ken Stabler interception to Dolphins defensive back Dick Anderson, Miami would take a hit in their secondary, when safety Jake Scott went out of the game with an injury. The Raiders’ defense did their job and forced Miami to punt. Stabler redeemed himself shortly after with a touchdown pass to Charlie Smith. That touchdown tied the game.

The second half was more of the same. Raiders scoring on their first possession, Miami coming back to take the lead again, and back and forth some more. Going into the 2:00 warning, the Raiders trailed 26-21. Ken Stabler drove the team down the field, a man on a mission. They used two of their three timeouts on that drive and ended up on Miami’s 8-yard line. After calling their final timeout, Stabler dropped back and set, hoping to hit his most reliable target, Fred Biletnikoff. But he was covered in the end zone. Stabler felt a force behind him as he was being pulled to the ground by Miami defensive end Vern Den Herder. Then he made history.

With the game on the line, The Snake threw a blind pass through the Sea of Hands floating in the end zone. Everyone held their breath to see who came up with it. Running back Clarence Davis did the unthinkable and beat three Miami defenders to come down with the ball and survived a nasty late hit by Manny Fernandez. The Raiders were awarded the touchdown to take the lead 28-26.

With 0:21 left on the clock, the Dolphins were desperate to make a miracle drive to win the game. The effort would be cut short, as Bob Griese threw an interception to the Raiders’ linebacker Phil “Foo” Villapiano to wrap up the game.

The game was so highly anticipated that it was dubbed Super Bowl 8 1/2 by broadcasters and analysts. Miami had been to three straight Super Bowls, and the Raiders had been in five of the previous seven AFC Championship games. It was a battle of titans that ended in the collapse of one dynasty and the ascent of another. No matter how important the entire game was, that last play by Ken Stabler is what endures. It will always be the Sea of Hands.

Up Next: Holy Rolling to Infamy

Be sure to follow @VillapianOk to check out how to support Foo’s push to the Hall of Fame!

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