Four years ago, 98.5 The Sports Hub first aired “Rough Injustice: The Story of the 1976 New England Patriots”. The special chronicles the Pats’ surprising run to an 11-3 record and their first playoff berth in the Super Bowl era.
Led by a dominant three-headed rushing attack and Sam “Bam” Cunningham – and 12 touchdown runs for quarterback Steve Grogan, by far the most for a QB that year – the 1976 Patriots rumbled along with an elite offense complemented by a talented defense that ranked 12th in points allowed per game.
But unfortunately, it’s called “Rough Injustice” for a reason. It refers to an all-time infamous roughing the passer penalty on nose tackle Ray Hamilton against Raiders QB Ken Stabler in the divisional playoff. The flag gave the Raiders momentum and they took advantage of a shaken Patriots defense to come away with the game-winning drive.
The frustrating and disappointing end to the Patriots’ season shouldn’t take away from what was sort of like their version of the “Impossible Dream” at the time. The Patriots hadn’t won so much as eight games in 11 seasons prior to 1976. “Rough Injustice” covers everything, from the Boston Patriots days to building the 1976 Patriots and the entire season, leading up to the call that’s known as simply “Roughing The Passer”.
“Rough Injustice” features interviews with several former players from both the Patriots and Raiders that season.
— Tight end Russ Francis
— Quarterback Steve Grogan
— Nose tackle Ray Hamilton
— Guard John Hannah
— Cornerback Mike Haynes
— Linebacker Steve Nelson
— Wide receiver Cliff Branch
— Linebacker Phil Villapiano
You also hear former Patriots executive Pat Sullivan, classic calls from the late Gil Santos, and – of course – the man who made the call … referee Ben Dreith. Listen to the whole special in seven short parts below.
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