Order the book, The United States Football League, 1982–1986.
Oakland 12 at Denver 221983 Week 4 - Monday, March 28, 1983
Attendance: 38,720, TV: ESPN
DENVER (AP) - It was a reunion of sorts, a meeting of two former Denver Broncos head coaches - the only two winning coaches in the history of that National Football League franchise - both of whom were unceremoniously fired in spite of their good deeds.
John Ralston and Red Miller are longtime friends, as you'd expect of veteran coaches who share a common experience. But there clearly was no love lost between their teams Monday night when Miller's Denver Gold beat Ralston's Oakland Invaders 22-12 in United States Football League action.
In a bitterly contested game played before 38,720 fans under rainy skies, the teams combined for 22 penalties worth 207 yards, including six personal fouls and an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction.
Oakland got the worst of it, being assessed 13 penalties for 207 yards, mostly in the first three quarters to help Denver roll to a 22-0 lead. Although Denver nearly equaled Oakland's penalty figures, the bulk of the Gold's infractions occurred in the final quarter when the victory already appeared secure.
"I just don't know why we tend to show this kind of performance penalty-wise." said Ralston.
One possible reason for the intensity on both sides was the importance of the game. In winning, the Gold sent the four-team Pacific Division into a deadlock. All four teams - Denver, Oakland, Los Angeles and Arizona - now have 2-2 records.
"It was a big game for us because we could have gone one-up." Said Ralston. "Now we are all 2-2 and you can be sure nobody will dominate this division."
"This win puts us back in the race." Said Miller, whose club started the year at 0-2. "I think things are coming along for us. We keep progressing each week."
Miller was particularly impressed with his team's opening drive. Pounding off the right side, running back Harry Sydney carried the first four plays for a total of 38 yards, helping set up Ken Johnson's 10-yard touchdown pass to Bob Niziolek. Denver then faked the extra-point kick, with holder Jeff Knapple passing to Larry Canada for the two-point conversion and an 8-0 lead.
Denver scored on its next possession, too, marching 80 yards. Sydney, who was to finish with 83 yards rushing, ran 18 yards with a pitchout to highlight the drive, and Johnson passed five yards to wide receiver Vic James for the TD.
In the third period, Denver put together another long drive, helped by offside, holding and personal foul infractions against Oakland. Sydney scored from 1 yard out with 14:00 left in the game.
Oakland rallied for a pair of fourth-quarter scores. Fred Besana passed eight yards to running back Arthur Whittington, then found tight end Raymond Chester on a 16-yard scoring strike.