In a rematch of last season's AFC championship game teams, the Denver Broncos defeated the Oakland Raiders, 14-6, yesterday.
The Broncos underdogs at home despite beating Oakland two out of three games last season, did not clinch victory until the final seconds when Amos Otis plunged for Denver's second touchdown.
The Broncos used interceptions by safeties Bill Thompson and Bernard Jackson to hold off a second-half Oakland rally. Denver led a halftime, 7-0, on Craig Morton's touchdown pass. Oakland closed the gap on field goals of 33 and 22 yards by Errol Mann.
Denver beat Oakland, 20-17, in last year's AFC title game here, but it was the Broncos' first regular-season home victory over Oakland since 1962.
The Broncos opened the scoring near the end of the first half on a five-yard pass from Craig Morton to wide receiver Haven Moses, over left cornerback Lester Hayes, Jim Turner converted.
The seven points followed the recovery of a fumble by Neal Colzie of Oakland on a fair catch.
The touchdown was tainted by controversy. On third and six at the Oakland nine-yard line on the play before the touchdown. Morton passed to tight end Riley Odoms.
Inside linebacker Monte Johnson knocked the ball away, but after a delay of a few seconds and a call of pass interference by Odoms, interference on Johnson was called by head linesman Jerry Bergman. The Broncos got a first down on the Oakland six.
Exploiting the Raiders' dismay Morton lofted a pass over Hayes to Moses in the end zone.
At Davis, general managing partner of the Raiders, was in the press box and was heard to complain loudly about the call. Al Lo Casale, executive assistant to Davis, said Bergman was in no position to call the play.
Jack Raider, of the National Football League game officials department, said the call apparently was made late because Bergman had to "come across the field" to tell the other officials what he saw.
Earlier there was a confusing play involving Raider linebacker Johnson. For some reason, Morton withdrew his hands from under the center and straightened up. A spilt second later, Johnson burst through the Denver line and shoved Morton to the ground.
Johnson was penalized for committing a personal foul, Morton for an illegal procedure.
Reader said it became illegal procedure as soon as Morton withdrew his hands from under the center because he could have been guilty of drawing the defenders offsides.
Wasn't Johnson then within his rights to blow in on Morton?
"No, because I think he started too late," Reader said.
The Raiders scored in the third quarter on a 33-yeard field goal by Errol Mann, after cornerback Louis Wright of the Broncos broke up a pass in the end zone to wide receiver Cliff Branch and, on third down, cornerback Steve Foley broke up a pass Stabler intended for tight end Dave Casper.
The Raiders were driving again after a 30-yard pass from Stabler to wide receiver Branch, but Stabler was intercepted by strong safety Bill Thompson in the Denver end zone on another pass intended for Branch.
Oakland scored again in the fourth quarter, on a 22-yard field goal by Mann after Stabler took the Raiders to the Denver 10 on a 20-yard pass to wide receiver Morris Bradshaw. Casper had not been able to handle Stabler's pass in the end zone.
Morris Weese replaced Morton at quarterback near the end of the third quarter, but Morton returned in the final period. He was booed after missing a third-down pass.