1979

Summary

Fullback Pete Johnson powered his way to 15 TDs, a club record at the time. But the team finished 4-12 in its only full season under head coach Homer Rice, who was released the day after the Dec. 16 season finale. The team struggled despite a plus-15 mark in turnover differential (44 takeaways, 29 giveaways). On Dec. 28, Rice was replaced by former Cleveland Browns head coach Forrest Gregg, who resigned as head coach of the CFL Toronto Argonauts to take the job. During the season, controversy flared over the publication of "PB: The Paul Brown Story," an autobiography written by Brown in collaboration with sportswriter Jack Clary. The book included lengthy and explicit criticism of Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell, who had fired Brown as Cleveland head coach after the 1962 season. Modell made a formal complaint to the league office, charging Brown with violating league policy on public criticism of other teams' management. Brown eventually was fined $10,000 by Pete Rozelle, whose appointment as NFL Commissioner in 1960 had been spearheaded by Brown. After paying his fine, Brown told reporters, "I have sent (Rozelle) his check, but I stand by the book as written. His (Rozelle's) action is not based on any judgment on the facts I have presented." Prior to the season, on Jan. 17, the Bengals created the coaching staff's first full-time position in charge of special teams, hiring Frank Gansz. On Nov. 14, after an injury to C Blair Bush, C Bob Johnson was coaxed out of retirement and played the remainder of the season. Johnson was the team's original No. 1 draft pick in 1968, and when he hung up his cleats for good after the '79 season, it marked the final departure of the last player who had been on the inaugural '68 club. On Sept. 23 vs. Houston, Bengal Chris Bahr kicked a 55-yard FG, which would stand alone as longest in franchise history for 33 years, until Mike Nugent tied it in 2012.

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League Rankings

Table inside Article
TOTAL RUSH PASS
OFFENSE 23 (289.9) 11 (145.6) 24 (144.4)
DEFENSE 28 (369.4) 16 (138.7) 27 (230.8)

Year Totals

Table inside Article
PLAYS FIRST DOWNS NET YDS RUSH NET YDS PASS TOTAL NET YDS PTS
OFFENSE 1049 289 2329 2310 4639 337
DEFENSE 1052 334 2219 3692 5911 421
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Individual Leaders

Table inside Article
PLAYER CATEGORY
Pete Johnson Scoring
Ken Anderson Passing
Pete Johnson Rushing
Don Bass Receptions
Don Bass Receiving Yards
Pat McInally Punting
Vaughn Lusby Punt Returns
Deacon Turner Kickoff Returns
Chris Bahr Field Goals
Dick Jauron Interceptions
Ross Browner Sacks

Coaching Staff

Table inside Article
COACH POSITION
Homer Rice Head Coach
Howard Brinker Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
Boyd Dowler Receivers
Frank Gansz Special Teams
Mike McCormack Offensive Line
Dick Modzelewski Defensive Line
George Sefcik Offensive Backfield
Charley Winner Defensive Backfield
Kim Wood Strength

1979 NFL Draft: May 3-4

Table inside Article
ROUND PLAYER POSITION COLLEGE SELECTION NUMBER
1a Jack Thompson QB Washington State 3
1b Charles Alexander RB Louisiana State 12
2 Dan Ross TE Northeastern 30
3 Barney Cotton G Nebraska 59
4a James White DT Albany State 84
4b Vaughn Lusby (acquired from Chicago in trade on 8-22-78) CB Arkansas 91
5 Casey Merrill DE California, Davis 113
6 Steve Kreider WR Lehigh 139
7 Max Montoya T UCLA 168
8 Howie Kurnick LB Cincinnati 194
9 Scott Burk S Oklahoma State 223
10 Nathan Poole RB Louisville 250
11 Ken Bungarda DE Missouri 278
12 Jim Browner S Notre Dame 304

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