Streaky Bengals


A.J. Green

Thanks to Cincinnati Sports TalkMaster Lance McAlister, we got to thinking about the 10 best Bengals streaks of all time in wake of the Miami Heat's 27-game surge.

McAlister, Baron of the Big One weeknights from 6-9 p.m. on WLW-700 AM's Sports Talk, has been talking about the greatest streaks in Cincinnati sports history and so we called him in as a consultant.

"The beauty of this is," McAlister says, "you can drop in a miniscule number and you can find one. It doesn't have to be a massive number. You can start from two with Johnny Vander Meer's consecutive no-hitters; go to five, the number of Final Fours for Cincinnati in the late '50s and early '60, to something like 76, the consecutive wins for Jerry Lucas's Middletown teams."

So here we go, from the miniscule to the massive, with the 10 greatest streaks in Bengals history:

1) 122 - Consecutive games played by Bengals nose tackle Tim Krumrie.

It's not even the longest streak in his own team's record book. That belongs to punter Lee Johnson with 169.

"You can't have a punter on the list," McAlister says.

It's not even the most games in a row by a non-punter. Linebacker Reggie Williams holds that with 137.

Krumrie is a mere fourth on Cincinnati's consecutive games list, but 96 of those came after he suffered one of the most gruesome broken legs ever witnessed by a national TV audience and is now the stuff of legend.

The leg bent every which way but logically in the first quarter of Super Bowl XXIII on Jan. 22, 1989, and the only pain medication he took was a can of beer, refusing to go to the hospital until the game was over.

Just before he underwent surgery a day later in Cincinnati, Krumrie grabbed team doctor Michael Welch by the lapels and croaked through the anesthesia, "If you screw this up, I'll kill you."

Welch didn't and Krumrie never missed a game before retiring after the 1994 season. He may not have been the same Pro Bowl player, but he was still one of the best nose tackles in the game even though there was much angst if and when he'd be able to play again. Even if he might have been a tad quick putting weight on the leg. Krumrie told the docs in his first post-surgery checkup that he was snow-blowing his driveway.

And there were all kind of nicks to follow. During the 1992 season, Krumrie approached trainer Paul Sparling the Monday after a game and announced, "Hey Paul, I think I tore my groin." Sparling gazed at a black-and-blue iceberg running down to his ankle. Krumrie wrapped it up and didn't miss a practice, never mind a game.

"That would have to be up there," McAlister says.

2)  20 - Consecutive completions by Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson in the 1982 regular-season finale, a 35-27 win in Houston.

At the time it was the NFL record and punctuated what may have been the high tide of Bengaldom. Off their Super Bowl appearance the year before, the win over the Oilers put the Bengals into the post-strike "Super Bowl Tournament" with the second-best record in the NFL at 7-2.

Bengals nemesis Joe Montana broke the record in 1987 with 22, but it took him two games to do it. No one completed 20 straight in a game again until Montana's successor in San Francisco, Steve Young, did it in 1996. Donovan McNabb holds the record with 24, set over two games in 2004 and Peyton Manning rung up 23 in two 2008 games.

The only other quarterbacks to hit 20 or more straight passes in the same game are Washington's Mark Brunell and Houston's David Carr, both during the 2006 season.

"Those are two pretty rock solid 1-2 streaks," says McAlister, who doesn't mind going 1-2 with Krumrie-Anderson.

3) 11 - Consecutive Pro Bowl berths secured by Hall of Fame left tackle Anthony Muñoz from 1981-91.

Another NFL record when executed it in 1991, the year before Muñoz retired. No one had gone to more AFC-NFC Pro Bowls. Since then it has been broken by the likes of Ray Lewis, Junior Seau, Jerry Rice and Bruce Matthews.

This streak combines the courage and toughness of Krumrie and the talent and skill of Anderson in a true test of time.

And it's a sneaky one. Of all these streaks, this is the one that surprised McAlister the most.

4)  9 - Consecutive games wide receiver A.J. Green caught at least one touchdown pass during the 2012 season.

For McAlister, you're looking for numbers that stand the test of time and you know Green really did something because he came within a game of tying a guy called "Crazylegs" in becoming just the second player in 48 years to have a single-season streak of nine straight games catching a TD. Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch had 10 in 1951, the record until Jerry Rice set the NFL single-season record with 12 in 1984.

5) 7 - Consecutive games won by the Bengals to end the 1970 season at 8-6, making them the youngest expansion team in any sport at that time to reach the playoffs.

McAlister can seemingly pull out any number out of any hat and come up with a streak. Seven? Billy Hatcher's consecutive hits in the 1990 World Series.

Here's the Bengals Lucky Seven, carved out of their first season at Riverfront Stadium in just their third year of life in '70, another World Series year for the Reds.

Head coach Paul Brown no doubt called them "my plucky little 11," because these Bengals were ranked 20th in defense and 21st passing the ball, but found a way to win with the punishing rushing tandem of Jess Phillips (four yards per carry), Paul Robinson (4.2) yards per carry, and Essex Johnson (4.2).

These Bengals only threw it 17 times in the finale on the river in a 45-7 rout of Boston in which they held the Patriots to 181 yards.

But the sweet one came a month before at Riverfront in Brown's first win over the first team he founded and coached. While holding Cleveland quarterback Mike Phipps to 170 yards passing, the Bengals saw their quarterback, Virgil Carter, rush for 110 yards in a 14-10 win and the Bengals ended up winning the first AFC Central race by a game over Cleveland.

6)  6 - Consecutive seasons at the beginning of his career running back Corey Dillon rushed for 1,000 yards.

Like a true character, Dillon, the team's all-time leading rusher, did many historic things that got lost in some outrageous behavior. This is one of them. When he accomplished this streak at the end of the 2002 season, Dillon joined the elite list of Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders and Curtis Martin, and promptly tangled with new head coach Marvin Lewis.

Those three are in the Hall of Fame. Dillon, who ended up playing seven of his 10 seasons in Cincinnati before retiring after his third year in New England, hung them up about one season and 800 yards short of the Hall. He finished with a career rushing total of 11,241 yards when 12,000 would have put him in the conversation and not on the fringe.

7) 4 - Consecutive seasons wide receiver Chad Johnson led the AFC in receiving yards.

Here's another guy that was headed to the Hall, but a not-so-funny-thing happened on the way to Canton. In moments of candor you can hear him wish he played his last four seasons with the same focus he had those four seasons from 2003-06.

And it's a shame because at the end of the 2006 season Johnson became the only receiver to lead his conference four straight seasons in yards. Jerry Rice and Tim Brown were the only ones close with three. You forget how dominant he could be.

Even in 2007 when Reggie Wayne of the Colts broke his streak with a 1,500-yard season, Johnson set the Bengals club record with 1,440 yards.

8) 10 - Consecutive games Carl Pickens caught a TD pass over two seasons.

Pickens mixed it up. He scored in the last five games of the 1994 season for a Bengals team on its way to a 3-13 finish but getting a spark from new quarterback Jeff Blake. Then he scored in the first five games of 1995 as the Bengals got off to a 2-3 start.

And '95 turned out to be Pickens's monster year with 99 catches and 17 touchdowns. But while he and Blake made the Pro Bowl, they couldn't get the 7-9 Bengals over the hump. That's because Cincinnati was in the midst of going 69 straight games without a 100-yard rusher, stretching from the last game of 1992 to the second game of 1997. A span of two presidential inaugurations, two head coaches, and four starting quarterbacks in an un-great streak.

9) 2 - Consecutive games wide receiver Chad Johnson had an NFL-record 450 receiving yards.

Those back-to-back games showcased the artistry that was The Ocho and showed just how breathtaking he could be. He went for 260 yards and three TDs on 11 catches against the Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium on Nov. 12, 2006, and a week later went for 190 yards and two TDs on just six catches in New Orleans.

The record stood until last season, when Houston's Andre Johnson went for 461.

It's not Vander Meer but like McAlister says, you don't have to have a long streak to come up with a big number. Two can be as big as DiMaggio's 56 games.

10) 4 - Consecutive 100-yard rushing games by running back Paul Robinson.

It doesn't seem like such a big number and it was done so long ago, from Oct. 27-Nov. 17, 1968, in the first year of the franchise and the next-to-last year before the merger as the Bengals went 1-3 while Nixon Was The One edging HHH in a presidential cliffhanger before cable news.

But think of all the multi 1,000-yard backs the franchise has had since with Dillon, James Brooks, Rudi Johnson, Harold Green, Pete Johnson and Cedric Benson. And only Pete Johnson (once), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (once), and Dillon (twice) have come close with three.

(The Law Firm came 11 yards away from five straight last season.)

And it was quite a statement for the Baby Bengals of '68 as they yearned for respectability in the last belch of the American Football League.

Robinson gouged the AFL elite with 159 yards against Oakland's fifth-ranked run defense and with 115 yards against Kansas City's No. 2 ranked rush club. He hit the Oilers (ranked fourth) for 156 yards and the Bengals got that third and last win of the first season when he rushed for 134 yards against Miami's last-ranked rush defense.

We're with McAlister. The greatest Cincinnati sports streak has to be Peter Edward Rose hitting in 44 straight games, and the Red Stockings starting professional baseball with 130 straight victories can't be very far behind.

"Football isn't always conducive to stats like some other sports," McAlister says.

So we followed McAlister's recipe for a good sports streak. It doesn't have to be a big number. It just has to hold up.

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