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TDBH: Bengals bounce back from loss in Pittsburgh to win in Houston, move into first

Posted Oct 23, 2017

This Day in Bengals History - October 24, 1976

HOUSTON - After getting thumped by the Steelers last week in Pittsburgh, 23-6, the Bengals set the tone right away during the kickoff in the Astrodome on rookie linebacker Reggie Williams’ ferocious hit against a retreating Billy “White Shoes,” Johnson  during a 27-7 man-handling of the Oilers that puts the 5-2 Bengals into first place in the AFC Central.  “You said we had no pride,” says cornerback Ken Riley, who has one of three interceptions of beleaguered Oilers quarterback Dan Pastorini. “We had pride all along. We’ve got seven good defensive backs. We’ve got a good team that can come back from adversity. We proved we’ve got pride.” Riley is talking to Cincinnati Post beat reporter Bob Queenan after the game and he’s referring to a Post story earlier in the week. The big news is the six sacks of Pastorini, two each by defensive ends Coy Bacon and Gary Burley.

That’s because Pastorini can’t find anyone. White Shoes, who is the league’s pioneer post-TD dancer, is held to four catches, 12 yards, and no dances and Kenny Burrough adds six more for just 63 yards. “Our defense was designed to stop their outside receivers. Burrough or White Shoes,” says the other cornerback, Lemar Parrish, explaining the Bengals’ bump-and-run coverage. “I went up and challenged the man, whoever was on my side. It was a gamble because they’re both fast. But I jammed ’em and I knew my safety was running right behind me.” The Bengals never look back after Williams’ opening hit. They go up 20-0 and 27-0 with Houston able to score only on Ronnie Coleman’s 69-yard punt return.

The Bengals defense fittingly supplies the final points when 280-pound Bob Brown separates Pastorini from the ball, Bacons scoops it up at his own 20 and lumbers 48 yards until he gets caught. But before he goes down he pitches behind him to safety Melvin Morgan he goes the final 32 yards. “I had to give it up,” Bacon says. “I took one back 80 yards years before. Hey, we wanted this one after Pittsburgh and this game was for first place and on national television.”

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