TDBH: Baby Bengals secure improbable play-off bid in third season

Posted Dec 19, 2017

This Day in Bengals History - December 20, 1970

The Riverfront Stadium scoreboard tells today’s story screaming the words “Baltimore, Here We Come,” to salute Paul Brown’s three-year-old Bengals setting the standard for any expansion team in any sport with a 45-7 victory over the Boston Patriots that fittingly gives them the first AFC Central Division title in the first season of the newly merged NFL. The Bengals’ seventh straight victory sends them to Baltimore next week for their first post-season game and earns the Master an improbable ride off the Riverfront turf when linebackers Al Beauchamp and Bill Bergey hoist him on their shoulders. “It was beyond my fondest hope to arrive at this spot in only three years,” Brown says. “This certainly has to be the most interesting and greatest football season I’ve ever known.” That’s coming from a guy that’s already been in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for three years, but his kids make it happen when Beauchamp, Bergey, and company hold Patriots quarterback Joe Kapp without a completion until late in the third quarter and don’t give the Pats a first down in the first half. Second-year cornerback Ken Riley sets the day’s tone when he intercepts Kapp’s third play of the game.

Meanwhile, the Bengals have two quarterbacks. Starter Virgil Carter, who is tender with a tongue injury, gets drilled on the first play of the game, leaves for a play, and then gets drilled again while throwing a 56-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chip Myers for the club’s longest play of the year that stakes them to a 14-0 lead. When Carter injures a rib late in the first quarter, Brown opts to protect Carter for next week and takes him out. Backup Sam Wyche makes his coach look golden when he comes off the bench to throw two touchdown passes and run eight yards for another. Wyche admits yesterday he watches the Colts’ Ear Morrall come off the bench in relief of Johnny Unitas to light up the Jets knowing Carter is questionable. “I have to be ready to step in in short notice, “says Wyche, who’ll also be carried off this same field as a Bengals head coach when he leads them to the Super Bowl. “You have to have that philosophy in my situation. But no, I never dreamed I’d find myself in a game doing what we were able to do.”

The popular Wyche, who lost the job to Carter midway through the third game, gets the game ball from his mates and Brown interrupts the presentation to praise Wyche, a harbinger of the team hiring him as head coach 13 years later. “He had to sit by and eat his heart out,” Brown says. “But he kept the spirit of things and picked us up.  He had a great game today … It’s the best game he’s ever played.” It’s a great day for coaches present and future. His players kid him gently, recalling Brown saying it would take five years to get here. Center Bob Johnson, Brown’s first draft pick in 1968, says, “He sometimes is like a doctor. He says the worst and anything better is just great.” Today, the doctor’s house call gives Riverfront a NFL division title and a National League pennant in its first year of operation.


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