Raiders Steam Roll Chargers 42-10 on Thursday Night in 1983 En Route to Winning Super Bowl 18

Few remember that Thursday night football is not a new thing. In the 1980s the NFL began to experiment with it. It was first run by ABC sports as a special edition to go along with Monday night, then in the late eighties TNT had Thursday night games. It was not a constant thing but done a few times a year as a way to take advantage of football ratings that were already huge on Sunday and Monday night. 

In 1983 the Raiders played the Chargers in week 14. This was seen as a marquee matchup before the season. The Raiders had played the Chargers in 1980 in the AFC championship game, the Chargers again made the AFC championship in 1981 and both were playoff teams in 1982. 

The Chargers fell off a cliff in 1983, they were 5-8 entering the game and would end the season 6-10. Their defence was now one of the worst in the NFL and while their offence could still move the ball, ranking number 1 in the NFL yards, it now suffered from a slew of turnovers which would lead them to only being the 12th highest scoring offence in the NFL in 1983. 

1983 was also the year that Dan Fouts’ body began to break down. He had taken a pounding as a pocket passer and even though he averaged nearly 300 yards a game and threw for 20 TDs but  it was only in 10 games in 1983. Every season from 1983 to when he retired in 1987 Fouts would miss games due to injuries. 

The Raiders on the other hand were on a roll winning 4 straight and a record of 10-3, well in the lead in the AFC west. A win on this Thursday night would clinch the AFC West. 

The Chargers started off with a bang. Scoring early on a 5 yard TD pass from Fouts to RB Chuck Muncie then added a short Field Goal taking a 10-0 lead.

The Raiders would open their scoring on a HB option pass from Marcus Allen to Todd Christensen, then later in the second quarter Jim Plunkett hit Christensen again on a brilliant 25 yard one handed TD giving the Raiders a 14-10 lead at the half. Giving the Raiders 14 points in less than 2 minutes. 

The second half began with 2 TD runs (20 and 1 yard) by FB Frank Hawkins with the 1 yard TD run set up by a Chargers fumble that the Raiders recovered at the Chargers 3 yard line, then a 29 INT Return TD by the great Rod Martin and another TD pass to Christensen. The Raiders erupted for 42 straight points with 28 points in the third quarter alone!! 

After completing 16 for 30 189 yards for 1 TD and 2 INTs, including a pick six, Fouts was replaced in the 4th quarter and the Chargers would not score another point. Charlie Joiner led the Chargers with 5 catches for 72 yards. The Chargers threw for over 300 yards but had 4 turnovers (they committed an incredible 55 on the year!!) and allowed 6 sacks with Howie Long notching 3 and Greg Townsend 2 for the Raiders. Martin added a sack to go along with his INT TD (as a side note I believe both Townsend and Martin should be in the NFL Hall of Fame). 

Christensen had a monster game catching 8 passes for 130 yards and 3 TDs. The Raiders managed 142 yards rushing with Hawkins running for 56 on 8 carries and 2 TDs as the Chargers keyed on Allen who gained just 38 yards on 16 carries. Plunkett went 14 for 28 156 yards 2 TDs and an INT. 

The Raiders clinched the division with this win and ended the year 12-4 and would romp to Super Bowl 18! 

Below are the highlights of the game along with the full game as well.