The Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos face off on Sunday for 98th time. The history of this rivalry says to forget the records of the two teams, and get ready for an intense game. The intensity if the rivalry was ratcheted up between 1995 and 2008 whilst former Raider Head Coach Mike Shanahan led the Broncos.
The Raiders and Broncos were both charter members of the American Football League, and they met for the first time that inagural year of 1960. The Raiders and Broncos split the first season with each side winning their games at home. The Rivalry would continue over the years with the teams matching up twice a year every single year.
The rivalry exploded in 1977 when the two teams faced off in the AFC Championship game. The Raiders were coming off of a big win over the Baltimore Colts in a game that has come to be known as the “Ghost to the Post.” They travelled to Denver to face off for the right to go to Super Bowl XXII. As Rob Lyttle was going through the pile towards the end zone, he was blasted by Jack Tatum and the ball came loose. It was picked up by a Raider and ran for an apparent touchdown the other way. However, the officials ruled that it was not a fumble, and the Broncos would score the touchdown and go on to win the game.
They would meet again in the post season in 1994, and there would be no close calls. The Jeff Hostetler led Raiders would obliterated the John Elway led Broncos 42-24.
A perfect example of the unpredictability of this rivalry was in 1997 when the unbeaten eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos came into Oakland to face the 2-4 Raiders. In a game that would be forever remembered for Napolean Kaufman breaking the Raiders single game rushing record the Raiders won 28-25.
For the past two seasons, the Raiders and Broncos split their season series. In 2008, the late Bronco loss to the Raiders effectively ended their chances at the playoffs and would lead to the firing of Mike Shanahn following the season.