By Jeffrey J. Miller
Week 1 – September 7, 1963
Week 2 – September 14, 1963
San Diego’s Chuck Allen was a one-man wrecking crew in leading the Chargers to a 17-14 squeaker over the Patriots at Balboa Stadium. The six-foot, one-inch, 225-pound middle linebacker was credited with 22 tackles (12 unassisted) to go with two passes defensed to keep the game close until the Chargers’ offense could put up the winning points on a George Blair field goal midway through the final frame.
Week 3 – September 22, 1963
The Oakland Raiders were a bit of a surprise, starting the 1963 campaign at 2-0 after finishing 1962 with the worst record in the league at 1-13. A new attitude imported by new head coach Al Davis resulted in impressive victories over Houston and Buffalo. The Boston Patriots, on the other hand, were still trying to establish an identity, starting the season at 1-1. Going up against the emergent Raiders in Oakland did not appear to be a good place to start a march toward a post-season berth, but there is a reason why the games are played on the field and not on paper. Led by a stingy defense that sacked Oakland quarterbacks nine times, the Pats eked out a 20-14 win to improve to 2-1. Middle linebacker Nick Buoniconti led the way with a sack and two interceptions, the second pick coming late in the fourth quarter off Tom Flores as “The Iceman” was driving the Raiders toward what could have been the game-winning score.
This might very well have been Boston’s most important win of the entire season.
Week 4 – September 28, 1963
Lucky for New York’s Dainard Paulson, thievery on the football field is not only legal, but it is strongly encouraged. The hard-hitting cornerback from Oregon State registered four thefts in the Jets’ 10-7 defeat of the Oakland Raiders at New York’s Polo Grounds. Paulson recorded a takeaway in each quarter of the game, including interceptions in each of the first three stanzas, then a fumble recovery in the fourth as the Jets improved to 2-1 on the season, while the Raiders dropped to 2-2.
Week 5 – October 5, 1963
Having started the season at 0-3-1, the Bills were looking to get off the schneid against the 2-2 Oakland Raiders in this Week 5 contest at Buffalo’s War Memorial Stadium. Rookie safetyman George Saimes, starting just his third game on the defensive side of the ball after beginning the season as the backup to star fullback Cookie Gilchrist, was determined to keep the Bills’ playoff hopes alive. The Canton, Ohio, native came through like a Hall-of-Famer, registering a pass interception, one pass defensed, a fumble recovery, and a half a sack in leading the Bills to their first victory with a 12-0 shutout.
Week 6 – October 13, 1963
The Buffalo Bills were coming off their first win of the season with the previous week’s drubbing of the Raiders, but at 1-3-1 were still desperate for wins. Staying on the beam this week would be no small task as the Bills traveled to Kansas City to face the defending AFL champion Chiefs, who were coming into this contest at 2-1-1. Cornerback Booker Edgerson, drawing inspiration from defensive backfield mate George Saimes’ Defensive-Player-of-the-Week performance a week earlier, was all over the field, registering four unassisted tackles, seven assisted tackles, one fumble recovery and one pass defensed to pace the Bills to a 35-26 upset victory at Municipal Stadium.
Week 7 – October 20, 1963
With six weeks now in the books, the race in the East was still anybody’s call. Houston and Boston were deadlocked at 3-3 with Buffalo right behind at 2-3-1, making this weekend’s game between the Oilers and Bills at Jeppeson Stadium the league’s featured game. But the game did not live up to its hype as the Bills came out flat and never seemed to get into a groove. Houston’s All-Pro cornerback Freddie Glick led by swiping two Jack Kemp passes and providing strong run support as the Oilers breezed to a 28-14 win.
With the victory, the Oilers improved to 4-3, and maintained their tie for the Eastern lead with Boston, who were also victorious this weekend.
Week 8 – October 27, 1963
The Houston Oilers entered Week 8 at 4-3, needing a victory to keep pace with the Eastern Division rival Boston Patriots, who bore an identical record. Fortunately for the Oilers, this week’s opponent was the Kansas City Chiefs, who were coming into this contest at Houston with a disappointing 2-3-1 mark. The result was still in doubt as the third quarter began with the Chiefs ahead 7-0. But Houston’s veteran outside linebacker Doug Cline earned this week’s DPOW honors by picking off two Len Dawson passes as well recovering a Dawson fumble that thwarted a Kansas City drive deep into Houston territory late in the second quarter, keeping the Oilers within striking distance as the second half got underway.
Week 9 – November 3, 1963
The Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs were teams heading in opposite directions. The defending AFL-champion Chiefs were coming into this weekend with a 2-4-1 mark, having dropped their last three contests. The Raiders, on the other hand, were riding a two-game winning streak that brought them to 4-4 on the season, the first time the Raiders had been at .500 this late in a campaign since 1960. Oakland’s defense, led by veteran defensive end Dalva Allen, kept the Chiefs offense in check well enough to allow the Raiders to escape with a narrow 10-7 win. The six-foot, four-inch, 245-pound Allen, who played collegiately at the University of Houston, registered two quarterback sacks (totaling 21 yards) and also recovered a fumble in support of the cause.
Week 10 – November 10, 1963
Heading into Week 10 of the 1963 season, the Eastern Division was still up in the air as the Oilers and Patriots were locked in a dead heat with identical 5-4 records. Needing to stay in the win column to keep pace with their division rival, the Oilers took care of business by defeating the New York Jets 31-27 at Jeppeson Stadium. Starring for the Oilers was cornerback Bobby Jancik, who intercepted two Dick Wood passes. Jancik’s first theft stopped a New York drive in the end zone in the second quarter. The second came late in the fourth, leading directly to a Houston touchdown that ultimately provided the margin of victory.
Jancik, by the way, provides the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first player from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, to play professional football?”
Week 11 – November 17, 1963
The second-place Buffalo Bills (5-4-1) welcomed the Western Division-leading San Diego Chargers to War Memorial Stadium needing a win to keep pace with the Eastern co-leader Oilers (6-4) and third place Boston Patriots (5-5). Unfortunately for the Bills, the Chargers were involved in a race of their own, needing a victory to keep pace with Oakland, who boasted a similar 6-4 mark. Defensive back Dick Harris, a two-time All Pro, played brilliantly, swiping three of former teammate Jack Kemp’s passes. Two of Harris’ picks led directly to San Diego field goals, while the third came on the final play of the game, as the Chargers held on for a hard-fought 23-13 triumph.
November 24, 1963
Games postponed as the nation mourned the passing of President John F. Kennedy.
Week 12 – November 28, 1963
This year’s surprising team, the retooled Oakland Raiders, who at 6-4, found themselves just two game behind the division-leading San Diego Chargers (8-2) with four games remaining in the regular season. If Al Davis’ crew were to have any chance to catch his old team, they could not falter the rest of the way. The Denver Broncos, at 2-7-1, had little to play for at this point, other than pride. The inspired Raiders, behind a stingy defense that surrendered just 46 yards on the ground and 187 via the pass, gave their beloved head coach and fans something to be very thankful for this Thanksgiving Day, steamrolling the Broncos 26-10 at Denver’s Bears Stadium. The Raiders’ standout performer was six-foot, three-inch, 218-pound linebacker Clancy Osborne. Playing his first season with the Raiders after spending his first four pro campaigns in the NFL (1959-60 with San Francisco and 1961-62 with Minnesota), Osborne came through with a dazzling performance, registering two sacks and one interception in helping the Raiders to improve to 7-4.
Week 13 – December 8, 1963
With the division crown at stake, the 6-5-1 Boston Patriots traveled to Jeppeson Stadium in Houston to take on the 6-5 Oilers. In a game that certainly lived up to its billing, the Patriots prevailed in a 46-28 shootout. Boston’s All-Pro linebacker Tommy Addison earned this week’s Defensive Player of the Week honors with an outstanding performance that included two-and-a-half sacks, six solo tackles, and a forced-fumble that Nick Buoniconti returned for a touchdown.
The victory put the Patriots in the driver seat at 7-5-1 with one game remaining on their schedule. All they would have to do is win their final contest the following weekend against the Chiefs, and the division would be theirs
Week 14 – December 15, 1963
Because of a weird scheduling anomaly resulting from the AFL’s decision to postpone the games from the weekend following President Kennedy’s assassination, the two teams vying for the Eastern Division pennant, Boston and Buffalo, were playing their final regular-season games this weekend, the penultimate week of the AFL season. Buffalo came into the weekend with a record of 6-6-1, needing a win over the Jets and a Patriots loss to the Chiefs in order to force a divisional playoff game, while all the Pats had to do was beat the Chiefs or hope the Jets beat the Bills.
The Chiefs, already mathematically eliminated from the post-season, were eager to play the role of spoilers and laid a 35-3 walloping on the slumbering Pats. The Chiefs’ defense was nearly impenetrable, allowing a paltry 74 yards on the grounds and a mere 85 yards through the air. All-Pro cornerback Dave Grayson led the way for Kansas City, recording two interceptions and four passes defensed, while contributing three tackles. The Patriots’ loss, combined with the Bills defeat of the Jets in New York, resulted in the first-ever divisional playoff game in AFL history.
Week 15 – December 22, 1963
Though it was a meaningless game with both teams already eliminated from playoff contention, the Kansas City Chiefs were still the defending AFL champs and were not about to let the season end on a sour note. Bobby Hunt, Kansas City’s All-Pro left safety, was all over the Municipal Stadium field as the Chiefs totally dominated the visiting New York Jets. The Auburn grad registered four tackles (3 unassisted), batted down two enemy passes, intercepted two passes, and topped it all off with a fumble recovery in leading the Chiefs to a 48-0 skunking. The shutout of the lowly Jets meant the Chiefs surrendered just three points in their two final regular-season games.