It’s been 36 years since the Raiders won a road playoff game

It’s been a long time since the Oakland Raiders have won a road playoff game. How long, you might wonder? Jimmy Carter was President of the United States, in the final days of his term before Ronald Reagan took office.

The date was Jan. 11, 1981, and the Raiders faced the San Diego Chargers in a game to determine the AFC representative in the Super Bowl. Oakland has played five road playoff games since, all losses.

Jim Plunkett threw two touchdown passes and ran for another as the Raiders outlasted the Chargers in a high-scoring contest, 34-27.

”I admire the man,” Charger quarterback Dan Fouts told The New York Times of Plunkett. ”He was the difference.”

The names in the game are a who’s who of the great years of both teams.

All-Pro tight end Raymond Chester caught five passes for 102 yards and a 65-yard score off a deflection. Speedster Cliff Branch had three catches for 78 yards.

Per the Times:

”If that was the way our day was going to go,” Plunkett said, ”that wasn’t too bad.” On third and 4 from the Oakland 35, Plunkett tried to gain enough yardage for a first down with a short pass over the middle to Kenny King, a running back. The ball bounced off King and went into the air behind him, to where Chester had been double covered.

”I thought I had a shot at the ball,” said Ray Preston, a San Diego linebacker who had been helping to cover Chester. ”He surprised me, grabbing it, and he was in full stride.”

On the San Diego side, Hall of Famers Fouts and Kellen Winslow led the way, along with wideout Charlie Joiner, as the Chargers gained 434 total yards.

Winslow caught three passes and threw one for a 28-yard completion. Joiner had six grabs for 130 yards and two touchdowns while Fouts was 22 of 45 for 336 yards and the scores to Joiner.

”They got 400 yards,” Oakland LB Ted Hendricks said.  ”Let’s put it this way,” he said. ”We outscored ’em.”

Oakland surged to a 28-7 lead in the second quarter and San Diego was never able to overcome the deficit.

The victory sent the Raiders to Super Bowl XV, where they downed the Philadelphia Eagles.