Days Until Super Bowl LIII From January 31: 3
The Oakland Raiders went into Super Bowl XV as three-point underdogs against an Eagles team that boasted the league’s meanest defense. Philadelphia was blessed with an outstanding running back in Wilbert Montgomery, and quarterback Ron Jaworski also enjoyed a fearsome reputation. The Eagles annihilated the Vikings and the Cowboys in the playoffs and many expected them to sweep aside the Raiders in the Super Bowl.
Oakland formed a ragtag band of underdogs, led by reject QB Jim Plunkett, who had been discarded by the 49ers, leading many to write him off as a washed-up has-been. Yet they possessed a great fighting spirit and Plunkett improved as the season went on, so their fans approached the game with cautious optimism.
They had plenty to cheer when linebacker Rod Martin intercepted Jaworski’s first pass of the game and returned it 17 yards to Philadelphia’s 17-yard line, setting up Plunkett for a 2-yard touchdown pass to hand the Raiders the lead. By the third quarter, Oakland fans were daring to dream of glory as their team led 24-3. Yet the Eagles drove 56 yards to the Raiders’ 34-yard line and threatened to drag themselves back into contention.
However, Martin was at it again, picking Jaworski for a second time. That turnover allowed Oakland to drive 40 yards and extend their lead to 27-3 with a 46-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter Martin took his tally of interceptions to 3 when he anticipated Jaworski’s pass once more, setting a Super Bowl record nobody has come close to breaking since.
Three years later, at Super Bowl XVIII, Martin was at it again. He broke up a third-down pass on his 7-yard line in the second quarter, sacked Redskins signal-caller Joe Theismann, brought down John Riggins for no gain on a fourth-and-1 deep in Raiders territory in the final play of the third quarter, and recovered a fumble late as the Raiders won 38-9.