In Tiger Johnson's first game the Bengals supply a 17-7 Opening Day victory today over Denver worthy of their 1950s NFL offensive lineman head coach. With old reliable Charlie Joiner in San Diego and first-round pick Billy Brooks on the sideline since the second quarter with a hip pointer, hardscrabble 10-year veteran wide receiver Chip Myers comes off the bench for five catches and 88 yards and the winning touchdown on a towering 27-yard pass from quarterback Ken Anderson with 10:12 left in the game before 53,464 at Riverfront Stadium. Anderson closes the scoring seven minutes later on a six-yard touchdown pass to reserve tight end Bruce Coslet as the three future NFL offensive coordinators collaborate to solve the Broncos' vaunted 3-4 defense in the fourth quarter. "I don't blame anybody, writers, anybody for getting excited about people with speed," says Johnson after the first game Paul Brown doesn't coach the Bengals. "Chip isn't one of those. Chip is a modern-day Raymond Berry. His cheek is broken in four places, his nose is broken, and it's broken today and he didn't miss a practice last week."
Myers, an off-season cattle herder, says he loves "the roughest, toughest and meanest situations." He's so wide open on the TD he's relieved he didn't drop it. "They're the hardest ones to catch," he says. "Throwing it to the backs so much is what kind of set up my touchdown. They had been coming up on the fullback all day. I was running a corner route and the two guys with me saw (running back) Boobie (Clark) and they left me alone. It was the free safety or the corner that blew the coverage." The prime suspect is Chris Pane, an undrafted rookie corner from Chico State inserted into the game earlier for injured veteran Calvin Jones.
The reason Joiner isn't here is because he was traded during the offseason to San Diego for defensive end Coy Bacon, considered the league's finest pass rusher but perceived as a locker-room problem. After his Bengals' debut is a resounding success today with the first of three sacks that will grow into a franchise record 22 his new teammates rave about him. "Coy has a new attitude. He's an older guy. He's not a young man like me," jokes 37-year Bengals tackle Bob Brown, a teammate of Bacon's in San Diego. "Now he knows he's surrounded by good people." They give the old guys, Bacon and Myers, a game ball. Johnson gets one, too, but cautions with a smile. 'We're too generous … they're P.B.'s balls."