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Legendary Raiders quarterback Daryle Lamonica, who led then Oakland to its first Super Bowl appearance in 1968, passed away Thursday of natural causes. He was 80 years old.
A relative unknown in four seasons with the Bills, the 24th round selection in the 1963 AFL Draft out of Notre Dame became the face of Al Davis’ Raiders when they acquired Lamonica ahead of the 1967 season. The “Mad Bomber” immediately became a hit throwing to All-Pro receiver Fred Biletnikoff and All-Pro tight end Billy Cannon, with the trio leading Oakland to Super Bowl II, a 33-14 loss to the Packers.
Lamonica earned his first of two All-Pro selections that season, throwing for 3,228 yards, 30 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, named the AP AFL Player of the Year. He was an All-Pro once again in 1969-70, pacing the league with 3,302 yards, 34 touchdowns and 25 interceptions.
In the 1968-69 season, Lamonica starred in one of the greatest games of all-time, dubbed the “Heidi Game.” At home against the Jets, Lamonica guided the Raiders on two touchdown drives in the final minute of the game to defeat New York, 42-32. Lamonica threw four touchdown passes that day, including the game-winning toss to receiver Charlie Smith.
In his six years as starter in Oakland, Lamonica went an astounding 62-16-6, winning 10 or more games four times. He led pro football over that span with 145 touchdown passes, 24 more than the Vikings’ Fran Tarkenton.
Lamonica’s winning percentage still stands as the best for any quarterback in the Super Bowl era with at least 75 starts.
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