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Al Davis' First Season

When he came to Oakland in 1963, the Raiders were a hot mess. Having won a single game the year before, they lacked an identity. Enter Al Davis. Full of bragadocio and more than ready to lead a team to call his own. On the 60th anniversary of his first year with the franchise, let's take a look at Al Davis' first season with the Raiders.

September 7, 1963 @ Houston

The first game of Al Davis' tenure with the Raiders kicked off in Houston. At first, the Oilers gave the Raiders a bit of a scare, shutting them out in the first half. But the Raiders overcame the early six-point deficit as Clem Daniels dashed into the end zone from the two-yard line. The Raiders never looked back and won convincingly, 24-13.

Something else happened that day that would come to define Al Davis a a football maverick. In the fourth quarter, Tom Flores launched an 85-yard touchdown to Art Powell to put the game away. Thus, the Raider entered the Age of the Bomb.

September 15, 1963 vs. Buffalo

Al Davis' first game in Oakland was one to remember. After a scoreless first quarter at the miniscule Frank Yuell field, the two teams went on a scoring binge right before the half. In sequence, Cotton Davidson threw a five yard strike to Art Powell, a 73-yard touchdown to Clem Daniels and handed the ball off to Alan Miller who took it in from two yards out.

The fun continued in the third quarter as the teams again traded scores with Davidson scrambling for a five yard touchdown and Buffalo's Jack Kemp connecting with Elbert Dubenion for a 58-yard strike. Oakland's Jon Jelacic's one-yard interception return ended the scoring in the fourth quarter.

Raiders: 34, Bills: 17

September 22, 1963 vs. Patriots

This game would prove to be the first of many exhilerating games that Al Davis oversaw while with the Raiders. After trailing Boston 17-0 at the half and by as much as 20 in the fourth quarter, the Raiders' offense came alive when it mattered most.

Tom Flores threw touchdowns of 33 and 53 yards in the fourth quarter, but couldn't pull out the comeback. The Raiders lost 20-14.

September 28, 1963 @ New York

Against the putrid Jets, the game reflected the dilapidated conditions of the surrounding Polo Grounds. It was a defensive slugfest, something that Al Davis was never comfortable with.

After Cotton Davidson ran in a two-yard touchdown, the Jets responded with a 51-yard connection between Dick Wood and Bake Turner. And that's where most of the Jets' scoring came to a screeching halt as the Raiders swarmed Wood the rest of the day. When the final whistle blew, Wood had thrown five interceptions. He never let that faze him as he managed to lead his team on a drive in the third quarter that resulted in a 35-yard field goal in the 10-7 Jets victory.

October 5, 1963 @ Buffalo

The Raiders' offensive woes continued in Buffalo's War Memorial Stadium. While the Bills controlled the game with a good enough ground attack, they controlled the line of scrimmage against the Raiders' air attack, sacking Oakland's quarterbacks seven times in the 12-0 Bills win.

October 11, 1963 @Boston

Determined to return to their recently discovered winning ways, the Raiders started off hot against the Patriots, taking a 7-3 lead in the first quarter. After Cotton Davidson made it 14-3 early in the third quarter, it appeared that the Raiders had the game under control.

They were wrong. After that scoring scramble, the Patriots went on to score two touchdowns and a field goal, pulling away to win, again, 20-14.

October 20, 1963 vs. Jets

This one had the makings of all that Al Davis held dear. It was big plays galore and a scoring bonanza. The Raiders started hot, scoring 21 in the first quarter and 14 more in the second while taking a 35-13 halftime lead.

Both Flores (93 yards) and Davidson (38 and 56 yards) demonstrated Davis's preferred method of transportation: the bomb. The Raiders won the shootout 49-26.

October 27, 1963 @ San Diego

Winning doesn't always come easily in pro football. Sometimes, it takes a bit of intestinal fortitude to eek out the hard earned win. Trailing the Chargers 17-14 at the half, Oakland knew that they needed to keep grinding.

They did just that. The second half was an intense affair, with neither team wiling to go down easily. Only Cotton Davidson's nine-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter assured the Raiders the hard earned 34-33 victory.

November 3, 1963 vs. Chiefs

The Chiefs were just starting to come into their own as regular AFL contenders. As the fans settled into their seats, they had a feeling that this would be a statement game. They were not wrong.

After the Chiefs took a 7-3 first quarter lead, the rest of the game was a tense, defensive struggle. Claude Gibson's 85-yard punt return gave the Raiders the statement-making 10-7 win over their rivals.

November 8, 1963 @ Kansas City

Knowing that they could win, the Raiders came to Kansas City the week after their previous triumph ready to take on all challengers. Two field goals, two tom Flores touchdown passes and a safety gave the Raiders a commanding 22-point lead at halftime. Eventually, the Chiefs scored a touchdown, but it was too little, too late. The Raiders won 22-7.

November 28, 1963 @ Denver

After a league-wide pause to the season to mourn the untimely loss of President Kennedy, the Raiders returned to the field against the Broncos. It was a tale of two halves. While the Broncos entered the half leading 3-2, the Raiders offense came alive in the second half after Cotton Davidson connected with Bo Roberson for a 39-yard touchdown pass. The Raiders ultimately won the game 26-10.

December 8, 1963 vs San Diego

It seemed like the game was getting out of hand, it really did. Staring in the face ofa a 17-point deficit often shines a light on all that is right or all that is wrong with a team. On this day, the Raiders responded like champions.

And then the fourth quarter began. In a span of 15 minutes, the Raiders scored 31 unanswered points. Plays such as Davidson-to-Powell for 10 and 41 yard scores, Davidson rushing for a nine-yard score, Alan Miller plunging it in from the two and a beautiful 30-yard field goal squelched the Charger's hopes for the win. the Raiders won the thriller 41-27.

December 15, 1963 vs Denver

Although it was a shootout, the Raiders led throughout the contest. In what may have been Tom Flores' finest game as he threw five touchdown passes in the 35-31 Raiders victory.

December 22, 1963 vs Oilers

At this point, the Raiders knew that they were not going to win their division, so this game was all about pride. It ended up becoming a battle between two future Raiders greats: Tom Flores and George Blanda.

Once again, the game was a scoring bonanza. After Blanda threw a touchdown pass, Flores answered right back with two of his own before the first quarter ended. Blanda went right back to work in the second quarter, throwing a 25-yard strike to Dave Smith. Flores answered in kind with an 81-yard touchdown pass to Powell, only to watch the Oilers' Charley Tolar score from the one on the next drive. After Flores again connected with Powell, the game was all tied up at 35-all at the half.

The scoring continued well into the second half. Only a late 39-yard field goal by the Raiders gave Oakland the 52-49 win. From 1-13 the year before to 10-4 a year later, it was the biggest one-year turnaround in pro football history. and with that, Al Davis's time in Oakland was off to a fast start.

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