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Jets, Raiders set to renew rivalry

New York looks to keep recent momentum in clash in Oakland

Posted: Sunday, January 12, 2003

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Any list of classic NFL games will have a sampling of Jets-Raiders matchups. When the teams play Sunday in a second-round playoff game, it will be difficult to replicate those memorable meetings.

Difficult, but not impossible.

Given the way this postseason already has gone, shades of ''Heidi'' might be on tap. Maybe there will be a backward pass the Raiders don't bother to cover (1968 AFL championship game).

It won't be as historic as Oakland's 14-7 victory Oct. 9, 1989, when Art Shell, the first black head coach in modern NFL history, made his debut with the Raiders.

It might be as entertaining as last month's game, a 26-20 win for the Raiders that went down to the final play -- and included a prolonged midgame ceremony (for Tim Brown's 1,000th career catch) that still irks the Jets.

Oakland leads the series 20-13-2, including victories in four of the last five games -- all played at the Black Hole. The most significant of those was a 38-24 win in the first round of last season's playoffs. A week before that, in the season finale, John Hall kicked the Jets into the postseason with a 53-yard field goal for the Jets' first regular-season win in Oakland. Their previous victory here was as the New York Titans in 1962.

''For me and for our team, going to Oakland, we had been there so many times, it almost feels like a home away from home,'' Chad Pennington said. ''We really enjoy playing in that atmosphere. I think our team feeds off that crowd. And we love that hostile atmosphere. If you don't, you're beaten before you even step out on the field.''

By far, these franchises' two most storied games came in 1968.

On Nov. 17 that year, the Jets held a 32-29 lead at Oakland with under a minute left when NBC, which then had the AFL television rights, went to a commercial -- and didn't come back to the game. Instead, the children's film ''Heidi,'' scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. EST, went on, and nearly all of the country had no idea that the Raiders rallied for a 43-32 win.

Even though NBC's president wanted to stick with football, the network employee in charge of making the switch never was told.

''I didn't do anything wrong,'' said Dick Cline, the man who switched the network to the movie. ''I'm not guilty here. I did what I was supposed to do. In fact, NBC promoted me the following month.''

And, the following month, at frigid Shea Stadium, the Raiders faced the Jets for the AFL title. The Jets, in their first playoff game ever, won 27-23, helped greatly when Daryle Lamonica's lateral to Charles Smith was left uncovered by the Raiders. Jets linebacker Ralph Baker pounced on it, clinching New York's victory.

Two weeks later, the Jets stunned the Colts to spark the Super Bowl's popularity.

So what might be in store Sunday, with the winner advancing to the AFC championship game against Tennessee, which beat Pittsburgh 34-31 in overtime Saturday? The Raiders hope -- expect -- their recent domination of the series to continue. And they don't care how dramatically it occurs.

''This time of the year, it's the part of the game that you really love,'' Jerry Rice said. ''Everything is on the line, and if you don't play well, your season is over. I think my wife ... she's not ready for me to be at home every day and I'm not ready for that, either.''



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