Lamonica-Daryle-Heidi

Heidi

Lamonica-Daryle-Heidi

“Blacked out” ending part of football lore

On Nov. 17, 1968 the Oakland Raiders staged a thrilling comeback by scoring two late touchdowns in a nine-second span to defeat the New York Jets. Unfortunately, most of the television audience was watching a young Swiss girl yodeling in a pasture of goats rather than seeing the Raiders’ heroics unfold at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

The Jets had just taken the lead in what was a terrific back-and-forth battle between these AFL rivals. Kicker Jim Turner nailed a field goal through the uprights to give New York a 32-29 lead with only 1:05 to play. The NBC game broadcast went to commercial. It was what was on the other side of the break that dismayed football fans and became such a part of football and television history.

With the game running late, NBC executives made the ill-advised decision to cut away from the Jets-Raiders game to show the already scheduled children’s movie, “Heidi” at 7:00 p.m. ET. Outraged fans quickly flooded the switchboard at NBC’s headquarters in New York to file their complaints. There were so many calls that the switchboard broke down. Frustrated fans unable to connect with NBC began calling the New York police department and tied up the emergency number for some time.

To make matters worse for the television network was that the Raiders stunned the Jets in a remarkable finish. With a mere 42 seconds to play, Raiders quarterback Daryle Lamonica hooked up with Charlie Smith on a pass play and the halfback raced 43 yards for a touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, the Jets’ Earl Christy fielded the football at his own 10-yard-line and was spun around by the Raiders special teams unit and coughed up the ball. Oakland’s Preston Ridlehuber alertly snagged the football and stepped into the end zone to put the game out of reach. Oakland won, 43-32.

Most viewers of the game obviously were under the impression that the Jets had won the game. In fact, New York’s coach, Hall of Famer Weeb Ewbank, received a congratulatory phone call from his wife Lucy who was at home watching the game on TV. The players and coaches really weren’t aware of the circumstances surrounding the telecast until the next day.

Surely NBC’s President at the time, Julian Goodman, was cognizant of the impact the decision had on the rabid football fans watching the game. He issued a public apology stating the decision was “a forgivable error committed by humans who were concerned about the children.”

In hindsight, the “Heidi Game” really accentuated how far the AFL had grown in popularity and just how important pro football had become in this country. It also is why today’s football fans can enjoy games to the end without worry of networks daring to cut away before it’s completed.


Nov. 17, 1968

OAKLAND 43, NEW YORK 32

... At Oakland Coliseum, attendance 53,318.

... The Raiders tallied twice in the last nine seconds to turn back the Jets in a firecely-fought encounter before another capacity Oakland crowd.

... Don Maynard caught ten passes including a 50-yarder from Joe Namath to set a club yardage record of 228 yards.

... The scoring pass was Namath's first in a half-dozen games. Daryle Lamonica connected with TD passes to four different receivers.

New York Jets
6
6
7
13
-
32
Oakland Raiders
7
7 8
21
-
43
 
Scoring Summary
1st Quarter
NY - FG Turner 44, 7:42
NY - FG Turner 18, 5:23
OAK - Wells 9 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick), 2:32
2nd Quarter
OAK - Cannon 48 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick), 13:34
NY - Namath 1 run (pass failed), :05
3rd Quarter
NY - Mathis 4 run (Turner kick), 9:59
OAK - Smith 3 run (Lamonica pass to Dixon), 1:46
4th Quarter
NYMaynard 50 pass from Namath (Turner kick), 14:15
NY - FG Turner 12, 8:49
OAK - Biletnikoff 22 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick), 3:10
NY - FG Turner 26, 1:05
OAK - Smith 43 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick), :42
OAK - Ridlehuber 2 fumble recovery (Blanda kick), :33
A - 53,318

Statistics

 
CMP/ATT
YDS
TD
INT
 
CMP/ATT
YDS
TD
INT
Namath
19/37
381
1
0
Lamonica
21/34
311
4
2
Rushing
 
NO.
YDS
LONG
TD
 
NO.
YDS
LONG
TD
Snell
21
46
14
0
Dixon
4
75
25
0
Mathis
4
23
16
1
Smith
10
53
18
1
Joe
2
9
7
0
Banaszak
7
18
9
0
Namath
1
1
1
1
         
Boozer
4
-11
2
0
         
Receiving
 
NO.
YDS
LONG
TD
 
NO.
YDS
LONG
TD
Maynard
10
228
50
1
Biletnikoff
7
120
24
1
Lammons
6
95
27
0
Smith
4
76
43
1
Sauer
2
37
25
0
Cannon
3
87
48
1
Mathis
1
21
21
0
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