Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Black Sunday

You'd think that a city the size of Los Angeles would have won several Super Bowls over the years.

But L.A., which has had as many as two NFL franchises at one time but now has none, has only won a single Super Bowl — 30 years ago tonight, when the Raiders, who had only made Los Angeles their home for a couple of seasons, defeated the defending Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins, 38–9.

It was the first time the Super Bowl had been played in Tampa. Nine future Hall of Famers participated in it. Bronko Nagurski, a charter member of the Hall of Fame, tossed the coin before the start of the game. It drew the fourth–highest Super Bowl TV viewership to that time.

But it is remembered for Marcus Allen's record–setting 74–yard touchdown run.

Frankly, it is odd that the game should be remembered for that. Granted, it was an electrifying play, but a good case can be made that the Redskins were already a beaten bunch by that time. When it happened, I thought the Redskins looked like they were shell–shocked and going through the motions.

It was in the closing seconds of the third quarter. The black–clad Raiders held a 28–9 lead. Allen had already scored once that quarter. His second score took whatever wind was left completely out of the Redskins' sails.

It really seemed, at first, as if the play would be nothing spectacular. Allen started to run to the left, ran into a wall of Redskins defenders, reversed field and ran back to the right, found a hole and slipped neatly through the Washington defense, and he was off.

The Raiders' triumph is their last — so far — in Super Bowl competition. They returned to the Super Bowl nearly 20 years later and lost.

Few who witnessed the Raiders' success in the 1970s and '80s would have guessed 30 years ago tonight that they would not be back as Super Bowl champions.

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