Hall of Fame cornerback Mike Haynes played in many memorable playoff games but none more so than a 1976 24-21 loss to the Oakland Raiders in a game that ended so controversially it is still talked about in both New England and Oakland 42 years later. Today Mike recalls that wild afternoon in Oakland on Talk of Fame Networks “5 Games’’ podcast.
After many years of struggles, the Patriots had suddenly blossomed into an 11-5 team but it was facing the iron of the AFC, the 13-1 Raiders. Yet New England didn’t fear them because the “1’’ had been hung on them by Haynes’ Patriots.
“We beat them early in the season good,’’ Haynes recalls. We didn’t just beat them. We beat them convincingly.’’
Despite that 48-17 pounding, Haynes himself was far less than confident as his matchup with Oakland’s sprinter turned wide receiver cliff Branch because the day before the game Haynes had pulled a muscle in his calf. For the first time, he talks about how he prepared to go out after a rookie season in which he’d made eight interceptions and been selected to the Pro Bowl to convince the Raiders he was healthy when he was not.
“My calf was bigger than my thigh,’’ Haynes tells Talk of Fame’s podcast listeners. “So I didn’t warmup.’’
In the end however, it wasn’t his calf or Branch Haynes began to worry about. It was the officials, who seemed to make a series of calls that all came out in the Raiders’ favor.
“It seemed like their home field advantage included the refs,’’ Haynes recalled. “Later (in the game’s final drive) we got flagged all the way to the end zone. We pretty much lost all our composure.’’
They also lost the game on a phantom roughing the passer call when Raiders’ quarterback Ken Stabler was actually never touched on the game-winning drive so controversial that referee Ben Dreith was not allowed to officiate a Patriots’ game for nearly a decade.
The chaos that followed went all the way up to the officials’ locker room and spilled into the Patriots’ as well. To hear how chaotic it all became, tune into our “5 Games’’ with Mike Haynes podcast today by going to VoKalNow.com or iTunes. You can subscribe to this and all our free podcasts by using the links below.