11-13-02, 8:45 a.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
Somewhere in a box, Ken Anderson has a mug honoring his NFL record 20 straight completions in a game that he shared with Steve Young. On Monday night, Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon broke the record with 21 straight, but not the mug of memories Anderson has from that day in the Houston Astrodome on the third day of 1983.
But, in some way during the 34-10 victory Denver, Gannon also broke the myth that Anderson is a record-book dinker and dunker not worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Gannon put up 186 yards with his 21 passes for an average of 8.9 yards per throw. Anderson rung up 256 yards on his 20 for 12.8 yards per completion against the Oilers. A total of 14 of Gannon's completions were for six yards or less. Eleven of Anderson's 20 completions went for at least 12 yards. Gannon threw touchdown passes of six yards to wide receiver Jerry Rice and 22 to wide receiver Jerry Porter Monday night. Anderson threw one touchdown pass in his binge, a 44-yarder to wide receiver Isaac Curtis, the man Anderson calls, "Jerry Rice before Jerry Rice."
Anderson, the Bengals quarterbacks coach, flicked on the game briefly after late-night meetings, but he's a notorious early riser and went to be bed before he knew what Gannon was up to.
"And I wouldn't have stayed up even if I did know," Anderson said. "All records get broken. I'm happy for him. Rich Gannon is a guy who
has played at a Pro Bowl level the last several years and he's a worthy guy."
Gannon finished 34 of 38 for 352 yards and three touchdowns in a game that was termed "must," by the Raiders to stop a slide.
Anderson also delivered in the crucible. The Bengals needed a win in Houston in the last game of the strike-shortened season to tie for the NFL's best record at 7-2 and Anderson presented a 35-27 victory on 27 of 31 passing for 323 yards and two touchdowns. The outing also gave him the NFL record for highest completion percentage in a season with 70.55.
Each had a go-to-guy. Although Raiders running back Charlie Garner had 75 yards on five catches, Gannon went to Rice six times for 52 yards. He threw 11 completions to wideouts, nine to running backs and one to a tight end.
Anderson went to his favorite target, tight end Danny Ross, six times for 75 yards in spreading nine balls to wide receivers, seven to tight ends, and four to the backs.
"Isaac made a one-handed catch for the touchdown and (tight end) M.L. Harris had a nice catch in there," Anderson said. "It's a combination of everything. Good catches, good protection."
The streak ended on a first-and-18 from the Houston 37 when Anderson missed Ross over the middle on what he calls, "a bad pass."
The dinker-and-dunker tag has never sat well with Anderson. He points to his yards per pass average of 7.34, which compares favorably to most Hall quarterbacks, and is actually a bit higher than his successor who was seen a long-bomb artist. Boomer Esiason's final per pass yield is 7.29.
"Look at all those touchdowns that Isaac and I had (51) and there were a lot of long ones," Anderson said. "Same with Collinsworth."
The game against the Oilers was the second time that Anderson had set a record for consecutive completions. On Nov. 10, 1974 against the Steelers, he hit 16 straight to finish 20 of 22, the league record for completion percentage in a game that stood 19 years until Cleveland's Vinny Testaverde hit 21 of 23 against the Rams.
The record of 16 straight got snapped, but Anderson claimed it again and then shared it with Young until Monday night. He laughed when asked if he would try to re-claim it again at age 53.
"No, because that means I would get hit and we can't have that," Anderson said. "Now the thing to do is prepare your quarterback and hope he breaks it this week."
About five weeks ago, that would have been quite a statement. But last week, Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna hit 13 straight passes in a loss to the Ravens and his completion percentage of 68, if it stands for the season, would be the highest by a Bengal since Anderson's 66 in 1983. Kitna's yards per attempt of 6.5, if it stands, would be the first time a Bengals quarterback would be over six since 1999.
"His percentage is up, his yards per attempt is up," Anderson said. "Everything is in place except the (10) interceptions. We've got to cut those down."
Anderson has been the quarterbacks coach since 1993 and he knows the unrelenting criticism about his role in failing to develop a consistent quarterback. Asked if he has spoken with Bengals President Mike Brown about his future, Anderson said the only thing on his mind is beating Cleveland this Sunday.
"This is a bottom line business," Anderson said. "When you don't win enough, there is plenty of heat to go around."
SLANTS AND POSTS: The Bengals have officially announced a sellout for this Sunday's game at Paul Brown Stadium, putting their game against Cleveland on local television. It's the second sellout of the season, eighth in 21 PBS games, and third straight against the Browns in the new stadium. It's on Channel 12 in Cincinnati Sunday at 1 p.m. . .
With fourth cornerback Bo Jennings (knee) on injured reserve, the Bengals Tuesday filled out their roster by re-signing rookie cornerback LaVar Glover off the Lions' practice squad. Glover had been in Detroit since Nov. 5 after getting
cut by the Bengals Oct. 16 to make room for quarterback Joe Germaine on the practice squad. Glover, a Dayton, Ohio, prep player and a University of Cincinnati product, could very well see his first NFL action Sunday in replacing Jennings on special teams. The Steelers took him in the seventh round and the Bengals picked him up on waivers before the season. . .
In the NFL's latest stats before the Monday Night game, Bengals running back Corey Dillon is sixth in the AFC with 988 total yards from scrimmage. . . The Browns have won three more games than the Bengals, but how? The Bengals are ranked higher in total offense and total defense and Cleveland has been almost as bad stopping the run (28th to the Bengals' 29th).
Here's why. The Browns are 10th in pass offense and the Bengals are 25th with a NFL-high 16 interceptions. Plus, the hiddden yards are killing the Bengals. They are last in punt return average and 29th and 30th in defending punts and kickoffs, respectively. . .
The Bengals activated defensive tackle Mario Monds to replace defensive tackle Oliver Gibson on the roster after Gibson underwent surgery on his torn Achilles' tendon Monday morning.
Monds himself begins his second week of practice Wednesday after recovering from reconstructive knee surgery on his torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered back in March at a NFL Europe workout.
The 6-3, 325-pound Monds, a University of Cincinnati product taken in the sixth round by the Redskins in the 2001 draft, played in two games after the Bengals picked him up on waivers just before the regular season.
Joining Gibson on injured reserve Monday is cornerback Bo Jennings after he tore his ACL against the Ravens. Jennings is to undergo reconstructive surgery Friday and the Bengals are expected to replace him on the roster Tuesday.