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Raiders Sneak By Oilers, 52-49, in Highest-Scoring Game in AFL History

Dec. 23, 1963 - Mike Mercer’s 39-yard field goal in the fourth quarter gave the Raiders a 52-49 victory over the Houston Oilers yesterday in the highest scoring game in the four-year history of the American Football League. The Raiders posted their eighth straight victory before 17,401 spectators at Youell Field, as Mercer kicked the 3-pointer with 4 minutes 37 seconds left to play and the score tied 49-49. Clem Daniels of Oakland broke the league rushing record with 1,098 yards for the season. The previous record, set last season, was held by Cookie Gilchrist of Buffalo. The 101 points scored by both teams were 8 more than the previous high of 93 set when the Chargers, then in Los Angeles, beat New York, 50-43, in 1960. Art Powell, the Raider end, caught four touchdown passes, setting a single-game record. The offensive show was highlighted by the passing of Tom Flores of Oakland and George Blanda of the Oilers. Flores hit on 17 of 29 pass attempts for 407 yards and 6 touchdowns. Blanda hit on 20 of 32 pass attempts for 342 yards and 5 touchdowns. Blanda holds the league record for touchdown passes in a game with seven. In Al Davis’s first season as the Raider coach and general manager, Oakland improved from a 1-13 record to 10-4, good enough for second place in the Western Division behind the division champion San Diego Chargers. Houston coach Frank “Pop” Ivy, while excoriating the officiating, also showed little fondness for his own players as he watched them file on board the bus to the airport. “Let’s face it,” he said, “we stunk the joint out. Our defensive line was terrible. They just didn’t play a game. But that is no excuse for what happened out there. Art Powell was pushing our pass defenders all day. It’s about time these fellows getting paid to officiate ball games protect the defense as well as the offense.” Oakland coach and general manager Al Davis described it as “one of those afternoons when both clubs were tossing the football well.” He revealed that the Oakland defense tightened up some in the final quarter due to a defensive realignment. “We put Dan Birdwell in as a linebacker, and he did some things that forced Blanda to show his hand. Before Birdwell went in, that man had all day to throw the ball. Our scouting reports showed that all teams using the zone defense are more effective against Houston. Our personnel is not the zone type, but we tried it anyway. I predict that next year the Raiders will be a great zone team.” The lone casualty for the Raiders was linebacker Charlie Rieves, who suffered a concussion and was carried from the field. “He’ll have a long time to recuperate,” Davis remarked.


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