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On This Date in Sports December 24, 1977: Ghost to the Post

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 In the Divisional Playoff Round, the Oakland Raiders edge the Baltimore Colts 37-31 at Memorial Stadium in double overtime. The game went back and forth with nine lead changes, with the game being tied 31-31 at the end of regulation. The game would have a scoreless fifth quarter, with the Raiders driving. The game ended 43 seconds into double overtime as Dave Casper caught a ten-yard pass from Ken Stabler.

The Oakland Raiders, coached by John Madden, were the reigning Super Bowl Champions, posting an 11-3 record in the regular season. Despite it being the second-best overall record in the AFC, the Raiders were the Wild Card, losing the division title to the Denver Broncos. The Baltimore Colts, coached by Ted Marchibroda, won the AFC East with a record of 10-4.

The first half saw the Raiders dominate the line of scrimmage as Clarence Davis gave them a 7-0 lead with a 30-yard run in the first quarter. Baltimore answered back in the second quarter, tying the game on a 61-yard interception return by Bruce Laird. The Colts would take a 10-7 lead at the half on a 36-yard field goal by Toni Lindhart. The second half would see the offenses kick it into high gear as the Raiders regained the lead on an eight-yard touchdown reception by Dave Casper from Ken Stabler. On the ensuing kickoff, Marshall Johnson went 87 yards to put the Colts back in front 17-14. Special teams played a significant role in the next score as Ted Hendricks blocked a David Lee punt to set up another Oakland score. This time it was Stabler to Casper for ten yards to give the Raiders a 21-17 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Colts and Raiders continued to trade scores in the fourth quarter, with Ron Lee scoring twice for Baltimore, while Pete Banaszek scored for Oakland. Trailing 31-28, the Raiders would force overtime on a 22-yard field goal by Errol Mann. The game’s signature play set up the field goal, as Ken Stabler threw a high arching pass to Dave Casper that was caught at the Baltimore 14-yard line. The play called “The Ghost to the Post” was notable for the athletic catch made by the Raiders' tight end. The first overtime period was a stalemate, with the Raiders on the march. For just the second time in NFL history, a playoff game would need a sixth quarter. The game would finally end 43 seconds into double overtime as Dave Casper reeled in his third touchdown of the game.

The Raiders would play the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game, losing 20-17. It was the fifth straight year the Raiders appeared in the conference championship. With the loss to Denver, the Raiders record in those games was 1-4. The Colts, meanwhile, would go into a tailspin following the home playoff loss, which would be their final playoff appearance in Baltimore, as they did not make the playoffs again until 1987; by then, the team had moved to Indianapolis.