Originally created 11/06/01

Raiders-Broncos rivalry fueled

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The history of bad blood between the Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos has been fueled by storied streaks, frenzied fans and clashing personalities.

"It gets crazy," Raiders receiver Tim Brown said.

Part of it is history.

In the 1960s and '70s, the Raiders ruled the Broncos, including a 14-game winning streak from 1965 through 1971. The Raiders, whose roster included such luminaries as cornerback Willie Brown, receiver Fred Biletnikoff, center Jim Otto and quarterback George Blanda, dominated a lot of teams in those days.

The Raiders and the Broncos are the only two NFL teams to have played in three straight overtime games, in 1984-85, of which the Raiders won two. Overall, the two original American Football League teams have played six overtime grudge matches, the most since 1974 - when overtime first appeared.

But the trend has shifted in recent years. Going into Monday night's game, the Broncos had won seven straight over their AFC West rivals, including three consecutive Monday night appearances. Two of those losses were decided on the final play.

"I remember the day when we had the streak," said Brown, a 14-year veteran. "Things go that way. You just have to keep playing football. Last year we could have conceivably gone to the Super Bowl without beating the Broncos."

But recent history stings for the Raiders. During the seven-game skid, the Raiders committed 20 turnovers compared to the Broncos' 11. Oakland was outscored 208-116 and outrushed 1,356 yards to 548.

"I wouldn't say I'm a history buff," quarterback Rich Gannon said. "But I do recognize the past, and we have not played our best football against the Broncos."

A more personal connection plays a big part.

Denver coach Mike Shanahan was head coach of the Raiders for the 1988 season and four games into 1989 - until owner Al Davis unceremoniously fired him and hired Art Shell.

Davis owed Shanahan $250,000 on his contract, but refused to pay it. An arbiter ruled in Shanahan's favor, but Davis continues to hold off payment.

When asked if they'd ever talked, Shanahan replied: "He hasn't even sent me a Christmas card."

And then there are the fans.

On a Monday night two seasons ago, the fans at Mile High Stadium pelted the visiting Raiders with snowballs as they left the field following a 27-21 overtime Broncos win.

Eight fans were arrested. Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson threw a snowball back in the seats, while offensive lineman Lincoln Kennedy was beaned and threw a punch at a fan.

Back at home, the fans at the Oakland Coliseum are well known for their open hostility toward the opposing team, especially in the south end zone - the so-called "Black Hole."

"You do hear all kinds of stuff, none of which I can repeat here, but it's fun," Broncos quarterback Brian Griese said. "It gets you ready to play and it gets you fired up. And you know when you go in there and you quiet that crowd, you know you have done something special."


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