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Pats/Raiders Great “Slots” Games Part 2

December 3, 2016

The other classic, controversial divisional round/slots game between the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders took place after the 2001 regular season, on a snowy January 2002 night at New England.

Future Hall of Fame players, Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri began their ascent to greatness that night, the former getting a big break after a potential game ending fumble, the latter kicking an incredibly clutch and difficult field goal to tie the game after the non fumble, so called “tuck rule”  by Brady that kept N.E. alive.

As the Raiders did 25 years earlier after surviving the also 2nd slot/div game vs N.E., the Pats, in that the first year of Saturday night “slots” tilts, went on to win their first Super Bowl.

I recall the New York crowd, at an event honoring the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, rooting for the Pats. It was Oakland that was still deemed “evil” and the Pats with the youthful Brady, were the sentimental choice.

Things have changed of course and while the Raiders have floundered, save their Supe loss season the next year in ’02, New England continues with one of the great sustained periods of great play, in certainly pro football, if not sports history.

“Sustained excellence” was the motto and achievement of earlier Raiders’ teams with executive Al “Yutzi” Davis, engineering the effort.

Now with a long way to go (5 reg games) and “N.E.” again rocked by an injury to a great player, tight end Rob Gronkowski, the two teams top the AFC with (9-2) marks. Perhaps they will meet in either the “slots” or even the AFC title tilt.

“Anniversary friendly,” 15 and 40 years later, it is nice to look forward, back and at the often symmetrical story, history manifests.

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