TDBH: Bengals roll NFL's top-rated defense with club-record 571 yards

851208-Anderson-Ken_snap (AP)
Quarterback Ken Anderson takes a snap from center during the second half of their game with the Dallas Cowboys in Cincinnati, Ohio, Dec. 9, 1985.

The November to Remember continues to roll on the river today when quarterback Ken Anderson pilots the Bengals to 9-3 and the AFC's best record during a 38-21 victory over the Broncos at Riverfront Stadium that sees the annihilation of the NFL's top-ranked defense. The Bengals set a franchise record with 571 yards on Anderson's 25 of 37 dart throwing that nets him three more touchdown passes and 396 yards for the second best output of his career as he emerges as a frontrunner for NFL MVP. "That's the best team we've faced this year," says Denver head coach Dan Reeves. Joe Collier, his defensive coordinator, goes one more step when he says, "That's the best offense and best execution we've seen this year." Broncos quarterback Steve DeBerg goes all the way: "I think they're the best team in football."

It's hard to think otherwise after Anderson shreds the Broncos even though his top two wide receivers combine to catch just two balls with Cris Collinsworth grabbing both and Isaac Curtis none. Lindy Infante, the Bengals de facto offensive coordinator, regularly deploys a double tight end set during the game a week after the Rams slow up the Bengals offense by double covering tight end Dan Ross. LA still can't prevent a 24-10 loss and a week later the Bengals' tight-end tandem of Ross and M.L. Harris combines for 11 catches and 118 yards. "It's not aggravating when you score 38 points and are 9-3," Collinsworth says of his lack of work. "That's this team this year. This is a team that has no real stars. That's what is driving the media and Monday Night Football crazy. You can't say it's anyone person."

Cornerback Ken Riley claims the AFC active lead in career interceptions when he gets two more in the first half with his 51st setting up a touchdown and his 52nd ending the half when he catches a bomb, but it's the offense with scintillating versatility that has the Broncos befuddled. "I don't know if I was cussing their coaches for calling perfect plays or if I was cussing at myself for messing up, or just cussing at the day in general," says Denver linebacker Bob Swenson. Pete Johnson, Cincinnati's 250-pound running back, bulls for 99 yards, 39 coming through a hole opened by right guard Max Montoya and right tackle Mike Wilson that Johnson calls the biggest he's ever seen. "When I got the handoff I looked up and it was like I could see everyone's face (in the end-zone seats) … We could have put six people my size through it." Bengals general manager Paul Brown can't help but linger with Infante when he congratulates the coaches after the game. "Boy, we can throw the ball," an admiring Brown tells him. "I like a couple of those dipsy doodles today."

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