Wyche to Lewis: 'He deserves it'

Posted Jan 3, 2014

The last man to coach the Bengals to a playoff victory says it is all lined up for his old team to win Sunday's wild card game.

Sam Wyche says it is in the stars. The last man to coach the Bengals to a playoff victory says it is all lined up for his old team to win Sunday's 1:05 p.m. wild card game against the Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium.

First of all, Sunday is Wyche's birthday.

"Make sure you get that on the P.A.," says Wyche, who turns 69.

Second of all, Sunday's weather forecast mirrors Jan. 6, 1991, when the Bengals beat the indoor Houston Oilers, 41-14, at Riverfront Stadium in a rainy 36 degrees. The call for this Sunday is in the mid 30s with a mix of snow and rain against a West Coast club.

"I don’t know if it's a big edge, but it's an edge," Wyche says. "The Bengals play in that more than the Chargers. What I reminisce about is the Freezer Bowl. It reminds me of that. I remember sitting in Candlestick Park and watching it and we had players and coaches walking around saying, 'I can't believe they're playing that game. They should call it.' I don't know how they held on to the ball."

At that time on Jan. 10, 1982, Wyche was an assistant coach for the 49ers and they were about to take the field against the Cowboys in the NFC championship game that would define the next generation of the NFL. 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, the man that Wyche coached, threw that iconic last-minute touchdown to Dwight Clark and, as Wyche says, "the 49ers juggernaut was on its way."

That juggernaut would claim the Bengals in two Super Bowls, including the one in '82 two weeks later. In '90 the Bengals were AFC Central champs trying to avenge their own last-minute loss to the 49ers in the Super Bowl two years before. Wyche keeps in touch with current head coach Marvin Lewis via secretary Sandy Schick.

"She might call me and say, 'Marvin's down. Give him a call. He's in his car now,' " Wyche says. "When I say keep in touch, for a coach that means talking about three times a year.

"It's a good team. They've got it all. Defense. Their receivers are unbelievable. There may be a few teams that have receivers as good, but not better. I know Andy Dalton had a tough stretch in the middle, but he's been great. He reminds me of Kenny Anderson."

It will be recalled that Anderson was so good that Wyche, a backup quarterback on those first Bengals teams, was traded to Washington once Cincinnati drafted Anderson before he got into coaching and became a quarterbacks guru. Wyche likes that kind of throwing style. He calls them "Drew Brees guys."

"Compact; not as much can go wrong," Wyche says. "The big thing in the NFL is accuracy. When a guy is open, you can't miss. That's just the way it is in the NFL. A guy can make a great play on defense or every once in a while a guy drops one. But you can't miss. And you have to be smart and this kid (Dalton) is smart. You can tell by his body language on the field and the few shots on the sidelines. Who is his coach?"

Told Dalton's position coach is Ken Zampese, Wyche said, "Well, he's well coached. Zampese has been around a long time and knows good players."

On Sunday, Wyche thinks Lewis's name is going to join his in the postseason books.

"He deserves it," Wyche says.

Wyche texted Lewis congratulations after the Ravens game last week and Lewis texted back, "You have to make an appearance."

He'll take a wild card birthday announcement.


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