Rob Lytle played huge role in rivalry

Rob Lytle was a key figure in one of the most heated rivalries in the NFL. He is one of the reasons why the Denver Broncos-Oakland Raiders rivalry is so intense since he was involved in the original Tuck Rule play as far as the Raiders are concerned.

Lytle died Saturday night of a massive heart attack at the age of 56.

In the AFC championship game on Jan. 1, 1978, Lytle, a tough running back with a nose for the end zone, fumbled at the 2 and Denver scored on the drive, giving Denver a 14-3 lead in the third quarter.

The problem was that television replays (these were the days long before NFL challenges) showed that Oakland safety Jack Tatum forced a fumble in a mid-air collision before Lytle scored. Oakland nose tackle Mike McCoy scooped up the ball and was bringing the ball back for an easy score.

But it didn’t count. Lytle's touchdown did and Denver won 20-17, advancing to the Super Bowl against Dallas. After the game, Oakland coach John Madden said this: “Hell yes, it was a fumble," he said. "How can it not be a fumble when one of my guys comes out of there with the ball like that?"

The Lytle play is a major part of AFC West lore in a division filled with great history.