Monday, December 24, 2012
Ghost to the Post
I was a senior in high school when the game was played, and that year Christmas Eve fell on a Saturday. That day, I worked my usual 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. Saturday shift at McDonalds, but it was a "dress up day" - meaning that we were allowed to wear "regular" clothes to work in, instead of the white McD's shirt and tie that at the time were required every other day. It being Christmas Eve, everyone was in a relaxed and anticipatory mood, including our store manager, who on most occasions was a notorious stickler for the rules.
But on this Christmas Eve day, she took pity on us - she knew that both I and my fellow grillman (Craig, my best friend then and now) were big football fans, so she let us turn the game up real loud on the downstairs radio, so that we could pop over the to the top of the stairs to check on the score every few minutes or so.
And even though we didn't watch a single minute of it, the details of the game are still etched in my memory - the back-and-forth (Raiders just scored! No wait, Colts have taken the lead!) - including the famous Ken Stabler to Dave Casper bomb (the "Ghost to the Post play) that set up Oakland for a tying field goal in the waning moments of the game, which the Raiders would then win in overtime.
In Shelby Strother's "NFL Top 40," a 1998 book detailing what were considered at the time to be the league's 40 greatest games, Dave Casper describes the game with a great quote:
"I didn't like the game very much at all. When it goes back and forth like that, it's not a case of having fun. It's pressure and anxiety and fear you're going to lose. Playing checkers with your daughter is fun. Not this. This was the hardest football game I ever played."
And Raymond Chester, the great tight end for the Colts, was interviewed two hours after the game, still too tired to change out of his uniform:
"The game was exhausting, both mentally and physically. But we are not ashamed. We lost. We played hard. And tomorrow's still Christmas, no matter what."
Oakland Raiders 37, Baltimore Colts 31 - December 24, 1977.