Classic MNF: 1988 Raiders vs. Broncos
By Will Weiss
ABC Sports Online

"I've never been involved in a loss like this. I've never blown a 24-point lead in my life. It's worse than the Stanford-Cal game."
-- Broncos QB John Elway

The Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos have met 12 times on MNF before, and each time since their first meeting in 1973, the games have been brutally physical and competitive. Eight of their Monday nighters have been decided by seven points or less.

Jay Schroeder
Jay Schroeder was 13-for-35 for 242 yards and 2 TDs in his first start as a Raider.

Their Week 4 meeting in 1988 was one of those affairs.

Current Broncos coach Mike Shanahan was in his first year guiding the Raiders, and at 1-2, the team seemed to be in disarray as they headed to Mile High Stadium. Three weeks prior, L.A. traded offensive lineman Jim Lachey to the Redskins for QB Jay Schroeder in a move to solidify the position held by rookie Steve Beuerlein. It was a deal questioned by virtually everyone except Raiders brass (read Al Davis).

But Schroeder made Davis look like a genius, as he would get the starting nod and lead his new team to an improbable 30-27 comeback victory in overtime.

The Broncos set the tone early when linebacker Simon Fletcher intercepted Schroeder's first pass, setting off a chain reaction of futility. The new QB finished the first 30 minutes 2-for-8 for just 26 yards through the air.

Conversely, while the Raiders went one way, Denver went Elway.

The reigning league MVP looked sharp, hitting Vance Johnson for 86 yards to set up a 1-yard score by Tony Dorsett, and later connected with Steve Sewell on a 7-yard score. Another Dorsett TD run and a 39-yard field goal from ye of the barefoot, Rich Karlis, and the Broncs were staked to a 24-0 halftime lead, causing many viewers to flip channels and check the goings-on at the Olympics in Seoul.

However, the Broncos had a chance to increase that lead before time expired, but a clock management blunder cost them. Johnson snagged a 10-yard pass near the right sideline and appeared to be out of bounds at the Raider 17.

He was ruled inbounds, and that's when confusion ensued.

Tight end Clarence Kay called timeout, but referee Dick Hantak overruled it, stopping the clock for a measurement. The officials signaled first down, spotted the ball, and the clock started to run. Thinking the clock was stopped, head coach Dan Reeves called the field goal unit back to the sidelines in an attempt to run one more play. Elway hurried to get it off, but time ran out before he could accept the snap.

That hiccup didn't change the fact that the Broncos had dominated the first half. They had outgained the Raiders 254-39 in the first half and appeared to have the game well in hand, but the Los Angeles defense turned things around early in the third quarter.

Eddie Anderson picked off an errant Elway pass and returned it to the Denver 40. On the next play, Schroeder rolled right after a play-action fake and found fullback Steve Smith, who took it the distance.

That combination clicked again on their next possession, as Smith took another play-action pass 42 yards for a touchdown. Momentum clearly shifted the Raiders way when, stymied at his own 1, Schroeder hit Mervyn Fernandez with a 48-yard pass to get them out of a deep hole.

John Elway
John Elway's four interceptions would be the Broncos' undoing.

Chris Bahr capped the drive 2:36 into the fourth with a 28-yard cut the lead to 24-17. L.A. seized an opportunity on the ensuing kickoff. A vicious hit by Reggie McKenzie popped the ball loose from returner Ken Bell. The Raiders recovered at the Denver 17 and were suddenly in position to tie the game.

They would do so five plays later, courtesy of Marcus Allen. From the 4-yard line, Allen took the handoff and sprinted behind left guard. He then hurdled defensive back Jeremiah Castille at the goal line for the touchdown.

The game remained deadlocked at 24-24 until Karlis flicked a 25-yarder through the uprights with three minutes to go regulation. But Schroeder led the Raiders back, driving to the Broncos' 27, setting up Bahr for a 44-yard field goal attempt with eight seconds remaining.

Bahr's longest conversion of the year was from 29 yards, and he had been 0-for-4 on the season from 30-plus. The veteran was true with the kick and sent the game to overtime.

The way the first 60 minutes had gone, one expected a long overtime. The Raiders apparently won the game near the midway point when rookie Tim Brown returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown, but an illegal block penalty nullified the score.

It was Elway, though, who would determine the outcome of the game, and his fourth interception of the night would be the catalyst.

Elway, under severe pressure from Bill Pickel, was forced to retreat 26 yards behind the line of scrimmage. He dodged Pickel twice before desperately heaving a pass downfield into the hands of reserve safety Zeph Lee.

Five plays later, Bahr was summoned. He calmly made the 35-yard field goal with 2:25 to end the wild comeback.

The win put the Raiders in a three-way tie for the AFC West lead and dropped the Broncos to 1-3. It also upped the Raiders' MNF record to a startling 26-5-1.

And for Jay Schroeder, a Los Angeles native, the victory signaled that playing in his hometown might not be a bad gig.

Notes:
On a 6-yard run in overtime, Tony Dorsett passed Jim Brown as the NFL's second all-time leading rusher. Dorsett finished the night with 119 yards on 32 carries, upping his career total to 12,335.

 
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