This spring's unrelenting drive to get Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson into the Pro Football Hall of Fame via the senior committee has caught the attention of everyone in the football world from a King (Peter) to a prince (Anthony Muñoz) and spanned the Web from the hot-off-the press ProFootballTalk.com to coldhardfootballfacts.com.
It has also got us thinking about the 10 most underrated Bengals stats of all-time after figures phenom Kerry Byrne offered the definitive Hall case in the exhaustive Anderson treatise this week on SI.com with more numbers than a congressman's black book.
We're thinking about numbers that might not necessarily surprise a resident of Bengaldom, but might surprise an outsider, like Ken Riley's 65 career interceptions or Jim Breech's overtime heroics. But stuff like some Isaac Curtis gems stemming from his Canton-esque 17.1 yards per career catch and running back James Brooks combined 11,583 scrimmage yards may even give Who Dey paw-se.
And what about Corey Dillon's Alamo season of 2000?
10. WR CRIS COLLINSWORTH - 1,009 YARDS IN 1981
A worthy number for No. 1 draft pick A.J. Green to take a shot.
All you hear about these days is how hard it is for a rookie wide receiver to adjust to the NFL. Well, not only did Collinsworth break 1,000 yards, he also became the first Bengal to do it in the 14th season of the franchise. The Bengals haven't had a rookie receiver do it since.
And it's not like it happens every day. The last rookie wideout to get 1,000 yards was the Saints' Marques Colston in 2006.
9. RB JAMES BROOKS - CAREER 11,153 SCRIMMAGE YARDS
He is now 55th all-time, but when Brooks retired after the 1992 season only 11 running backs were ahead of him on the list. As Dave Lapham has been known to say, Brooks was Marshall Faulk before Marshall Faulk with his ability to play both running back and split wide as a receiver. His 27 career catching TDs are more than the McGees (Tim and Tony), Peter Warrick and Dan Ross in club history.
Brooks played 118 games for the Bengals. In the 130 games of the Marvin Lewis era, running backs have caught seven TDs. It's not so much a reflection of what the Bengals have had since, but it simply shows why Brooks should be considered one of the top players in the history of the franchise.
8. SS DAVID FULCHER - 31 CAREER INTERCEPTIONS
This is the original stat that got us noodling on this list.
Here's a guy that was known for being such a fierce player against the run as well as a blitzer in Dick LeBeau's cutting edge zone scheme (Fulcher Two Stay) while ushering in the age of the big, linebacker safety at about 235-240 pounds. Yet he's a healthy third on the club's all-time interception list, ahead of cornerback Lemar Parrish's 25 and behind Riley's 65 and cornerback Louis Breeden's 33.
And he got them in just 100 games. Under LeBeau, Pro Bowler Troy Polamalu, the same type of aggressive run player, has 27 picks in 107 games. Fulcher was, indeed, a big-time player with special versatility.
7. RB COREY DILLON - 4.6 YARDS PER CARRY IN 2000
We need to dispatch Byrne on this one. There can be no other season in NFL history when a team's leading rusher had the same yards per carry than his starting quarterback's yards per attempt. While Dillon somehow pounded out 1,435 yards on 315 carries, Akili Smith struggled for 4.6 on his 267 attempts. When the Bengals turned to Scott Mitchell late in the year, it didn't get much better at 5.17. So in the end, Dillon mashed for 4.6 per on a club that threw it a total of 4.8 per.
It has to be one of the greatest seasons ever by a running back.
6. WR ISAAC CURTIS - 17. 1 CAREER YARDS PER CATCH
If you think Riley should be in the Hall of Fame, what about this argument? Curtis has more TD catches than Lynn Swann (53-51) and yards (7,101 to 5,462) and better yards per catch than Swann (16.3) and John Stallworth (16.2). Swann and Stallworth, who played for the four-time Super Bowl champion Steelers in the same era Curtis played in Cincinnati, have been in the Hall for a decade.
Fact: As pointed out by David Kubicki, the man leading the Anderson charge, Anderson had just one 1,000-yard rusher in his career with Pete Johnson's 1,077 in 1981. Well, so did Curtis while the Steelers were getting seven from Franco Harris and one from Rocky Bleier while Swann and Stallworth played from 1974-87.
5. QB CARSON PALMER - 100th TD PASS IN 59 GAMES
It happened on Dec. 15, 2007 in San Francisco and put him in some heady company. Only Dan Marino (44), Kurt Warner (50), Johnny Unitas (53) and Peyton Manning (56) got to 100 faster while Palmer beat out Brett Favre at 62.
See? Palmer was on an elite path even after he tore his ACL in the 2005 playoffs.
But since then, he's played 38 games and has 54 TDs. He had 65 touchdowns in his first 38 games. Maybe more significant is he had just 36 interceptions throwing those 100 TDs. Since that night in Frisco, Palmer has had as many interceptions (54) as he's had TDs.
Why? Could it be that the Bengals never found and/or developed replacements for wide receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry while his offensive line broke up because of injury (Willie Anderson, Rich Braham) and free agency (Eric Steinbach, Stacy Andrews) as defenses deciphered a passing attack that required optimum protection for deep drops and long routes? Or is it because Palmer has diminished? This stat shows why it's not so hard to see why there are teams that think Palmer can help them at age 31. Including this one.
4. K JIM BREECH - 9-for-9 ON FIELD GOALS IN OT
Hard to know what's even more amazing. No other player in NFL history has hit that many in OT without missing. Or that they've only hit four in OT in the 18 seasons since his last one. Doug Pelfrey had two and Neil Rackers and Shayne Graham one each. When Graham missed a 47-yarder on Nov. 6, 2008 with seven seconds left against the Eagles in the 13-13 tie at PBS, it was only the Bengals' second miss in OT and first since Chris Bahr missed a 32-yarder with 8:05 left at Riverfront in a 30-27 loss to Houston on Sept. 23, 1979.
Breech's skein started on Dec. 14, 1980 at Soldier Field when his 28-yarder beat the Bears and ended in the same place nearly 12 years later on a 36-yarder that gave the Bengals a 31-28 win in a Sunday night game. The kicks spanned three coaches (Forrest Gregg, Sam Wyche, Dave Shula) and four special teams coaches (Frank Gansz, Bruce Coslet, Mike Stock, Marv Braden).
3. WR CHAD OCHOCINCO - FOUR STRAIGHT AFC RECEIVING YARDS TITLES
No bull. No one has ever done what The Ocho did from 2003-06. Not even Jerry Rice.
But who remembers it all after the trade rants, Dancing with the Stars, the 85 dates, the endless tweets, the soccer tryouts, and the stint in the ring that looked more like his bumpy relationship with head coach Marvin Lewis than a bull ride?
Before Twitter and Cheryl and T.O., this guy was once upon a time one of the very best. He tweets he still is. The numbers say no, but they once said yes. Not even Rice. If you can remember back when both were better known for catching than dancing.
2. CB KEN RILEY - 65 CAREER INTERCEPTIONS
It is one of the most hallowed numbers in Bengaldom, but ask even hardcore football fans outside Paul Brown Stadium and here's betting they'd have a tough time naming the fifth guy on the list of all-time interceptions behind Paul Krause (81), Emlen Tunnel (79), Rod Woodson (71) and Night Train Lane (68). Riley is the only one of the five that played his entire career with one club and his 207 games played puts him in the top 15 all-time for cornerbacks.
Even Bengals fans may have forgotten that Riley was the co-AFC leader for interceptions in his final two seasons of 1982 and 1983 at ages 35 and 36. His career high of nine picks in 1976 came when he had three in the season finale at Shea Stadium, two off Joe Willie Namath in his final game as a Jet.
1. QB KEN ANDERSON - BACK-TO-BACK PASSING TITLES
On Oct. 5, 2000 Bengals.com offered on Anderson's Hall candidacy, "A no-brainer even if he's a quarterback who didn't win a Super Bowl. And you can put him in for only this reason: He's the only man to win back-to-back NFL passing titles in two different decades. He did it in the smashmouth '70s and the aerial '80s, so don't call him a dinker-and-dunker with that 59.3 passing percentage. Which, by the way, is eighth best all-time. Better than Hall of Famers Sonny Jurgensen, Len Dawson and Roger Staubach."
Anderson led the NFL in passing in 1974-75 and 1981-82 and Byrne's painstaking research shows just how much difference there was between the two eras and how Anderson straddled them so well.
We can only offer this one stat: In 1974 Raiders wide receiver Cliff Branch led the 14-game NFL with 1,092 receiving yards and eight years later in the nine games of the 1982 strike-shortened season Wes Chandler of the Air Coryell Chargers led with nearly as many - 1,032.