Blast From The Past – Week 17

October 12nd 1975: Kansas City Chiefs 42 – Oakland Raiders 10

The first era of the Kansas City Chiefs franchise was coming to an end. From day 1, back in Dallas, Hank Stram had been the coach of the team, but he had been sacked after the disappointing 1974 season. His iconic quarterback, Len Dawson, was now 40 and increasingly prone to injury. Rebuilding was needed, as the team was not in good shape to compete.

When the Oakland Raiders arrived at Arrowhead in October 1975 they had every reason to be confident. They had opened the season with three straight wins, while their hosts the Chiefs had started the year with three defeats. In the absence of Len Dawson through injury, his back-up Mike Livingston was starting at quarterback.

Livingston had been drafted by the Chiefs in the second round of the 1968 draft, but he had only had occasional chances to play, behind long time first choice Dawson. This was one of his 32 starts over his first eight seasons in the league: the following year would see him finally get the number one spot, starting all 14 of Kansas City’s games. In total, Livingston made 90 appearances for the Chiefs, in a one-team career lasting well over a decade.

The game would see Oakland score the first and last points of the game, but suffer a total drubbing in between those two moments. Livingston led the way with 3 passing touchdowns and a 112 quarterback rating, as well as running in for a score, in what was one of his best performances.

The Raiders got straight off the mark with an early field goal, but Livingston roused the home crowd with a 48 yard bomb to Walter White, the rookie tight end (apparently there’s a famous TV character of the same name, but the guy I’m talking about got 16 touchdowns for us over five seasons…probably not the same Walter White!)

On the Chiefs’ next drive, after Raiders’ QB Ken Stabler was intercepted, the team went down the field again and full back Woody Green rushed home from 5 yards – he would go on to rack up over 100 rushing yards on the day. Then, when the Raiders got the ball back, Stabler again coughed up a pick, and
Mike Livingston was able to carry the ball over the line a few plays later. With the first quarter not yet over, Kansas City was now 21-3 ahead!

The Chiefs kept a firm grip on the game from this point. A short pass to veteran running back Ed Podolak was followed by an even shorter one to tight end Billy Masters. Masters had played in Buffalo and Denver, and this was his first score for the Chiefs after moving to KC this season. Finally, Morris LaGrand rushed home from a yard out to give the Chiefs their sixth TD of the day. If you haven’t heard of LaGrand, it’s no surprise – this was his only touchdown in professional football.

After a late Raiders consolation touchdown, the game ended with a 42-10 win – new head coach Paul Wiggin celebrated his first win, but this was one of few celebrations in three generally unsuccessful seasons as head coach. This win, and a televised prime time thriller against the Dallas Cowboys later in the season, showed what the Chiefs could still do on their day, but there was not enough consistency to string a run together – it would be the mid-80’s before the Chiefs would return to the post-season.

Elsewhere in the NFL at the time:

Racking up 159 rushing yards and a touchdown, OJ Simpson shows his quality as his Buffalo Bills go to Baltimore and get a 38-31 win over the Colts.

Elsewhere in the world:

Love is in the air – as Hollywood stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton married (for the second time), as did a pair of twenty-something Arkansas law professors, Bill Clinton and Hilary Rodham.

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