was one of the greatest players in pro football history. He started his career with the Chicago Bears in 1949 but did not become the regular starter at quarterback until 1953. Injuries, however, plagued him during his time with the Bears and he later became frustrated by his lack of playing time. As a result, he left the game after the 1958 seasons.
When the American Football League formed in 1960, Blanda jumped at the opportunity to play again and joined the Houston Oilers. After seven seasons of leading the Oilers including two AFL titles, he moved on to the in 1967. He served as the Raiders full-time kicker while also serving as the team's backup quarterback.
One of the most notable moments on Blanda's career resume is how he helped guide Oakland to four wins and one tie in a five-game span in 1970 - all at the age of 43.
Here's the rundown on the spectacular five-game span.
Week 6 (Oct. 25) – vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Heading into the Raiders' Week 6 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 25, Oakland sported a somewhat disappointing 2-2-1 record (the team was coming off a 12-1-1 record the prior season). Oakland's starting quarterback against the Steelers was Daryle Lamonica, but he was benched in the first quarter due to a back injury. Blanda, the oldest player in the game, came in and paced his team to an easy 31-14 victory while throwing three touchdown passes.
Blanda stat line: Passing: 7 of 12, 148 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT; Rushing: 1 attempt 0 yards; Field Goals: 27 yarder; PATs: 4
Week 7 (Nov. 1) – at Kansas City Chiefs
Although Lamonica was healthy enough to return to the field, it was Blanda who provided the late-game heroics to help the Raiders. His 48-yard field goal with three seconds remaining in the game enabled Oakland to tie Kansas City 17-17 and take the lead in the AFC Western Division on percentage points
Blanda stat line: Field Goal: 48 yarder; PATs: 2
Week 8 (Nov. 8) – vs. Cleveland Browns
A healthy Lamonica started this game but things began to look bleak when he was again sent to the sideline in the fourth quarter, this time with an injured shoulder. In came Blanda who didn't blink at the team's seven-point deficit. With 96 ticks on the clock, he tied the game up with a 14-yard TD pass to Warren Wells. Then with three seconds remaining in the game, Blanda kicked a 52-yard field goal to give the Raiders a 23-20 victory.
Blanda stat line: Passing: 7 of 12, 102 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; Rushing: 1 attempt 4 yards; Field Goals: 43, 9, 52 (Game Winner) yards; PATs: 2
Week 9 (Nov. 15) – at Denver Broncos
Nagging injuries can seem to ruin a season for some players and that must have been what Lamonica was thinking after he again had to leave the game. Luckily for Oakland, Blanda was there to move in and make another late-game save. Trailing with less than four minutes remaining, Blanda directed an offensive attack that culminated with his TD pass to Fred Biletnikoff with 2:28 left in the game. Oakland held onto a 24-19 victory.
Blanda stat line: Passing: 4 of 6, 80 yards, 1 TD; Field Goals: 32 yards; PATs: 3
Week 10 (Nov. 22) – vs. San Diego Chargers
Although Lamonica remained healthy and played the whole game at quarterback, Blanda's services were still needed to pull out another victory. The talented kicker converted on a 16-yard field goal in the final four seconds of the game to give the Raiders a 20-17 triumph.
Blanda stat line: Field Goals: 18, 16 (Game Winner) yards; PATs: 2
Blanda's five-game string of heroics was only part of his magnificent 1970 season. He also kicked the game-winning extra point against the New York Jets in Week 12. The Raiders went on to finish the season with an 8-4-2 record and advanced to the AFC championship game. Although the Raiders lost to the Baltimore Colts in that game, Blanda accounted for all 17 of the Raiders points. The Associated Press named him 1970 Male Athlete of the Year for his services.
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