NFL's Top 10 Grudge Matches
By Derek Lofland.
Everyone is talking about the return of Brett Favre to Lambeau Field. Rarely do you see such an iconic player not only leave his team, but also lead a division rival in a game with first place implications, or do you?
I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 “grudge matches,” since the NFL merged in 1970, between Hall of Fame caliber players and their former teams. Who had the last laugh?
10) December 28, 1980 Ken Stabler loses at Oakland 27-7 in a playoff game - He is not a Hall of Famer, but he is one of the most famous quarterbacks in NFL history and he has been a HOF finalist several times for induction. This is also the only game where the rematch was actually a playoff game.
In Stabler's 10 years with the Raiders he went 69-26-1 as their starting quarterback and led the team to five consecutive AFC Championship games and a Super Bowl XI victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The Raiders went 9-7 and missed the playoffs with Stabler in 1979.
Jim Plunkett served as their backup that year and in 1980, they decided to go with Plunkett and send Stabler packing. The Oakland Raiders got off to just a 2-3 start, but turned it around by finishing with an 11-5 record and a Wild Card Birth. Waiting for them in the Wild Card Round was Stabler and the Houston Oilers, who also finished 11-5. Stabler would not have his revenge this day in Oakland, going 15-for-26 with 243 yards, zero touchdown passes, two picks and a QB rating of just 57.1. Plunkett did not exactly dominate the game going just 8-for-23 with 168 yards, two touchdown passes, one pick and a QB rating of just 72.4.
The important part was that the Raiders won the game 27-7 and would go on to with the first of their two Super Bowls with Plunkett, who would win the Super Bowl MVP award that season. Stabler would never play in a playoff game again, much less be an effective NFL starter retiring after the 1984 season with the New Orleans Saints...
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