This day in 1981: Louie, Louie

Cris Collinsworth

Each week from the bye on, plans to go down the stretch with the 1981 AFC champion Bengals to see what was happening in the newspapers on this date 30 years ago.

NOV. 13: A few clippings from before and after the Bengals 40-17 victory over the Chargers earlier in the week:

Before the 6-3 Bengals leave for their showdown out West with the 6-3 Chargers, Cincinnati Enquirer sports columnist Mark Purdy sums up where the Bengals are in the heartland as he talks to Bengals rookie wide receiver Cris Collinsworth. Purdy notes that an "adoring college co-ed" has written Collinsworth in an effort to decorate her dorm room in "contemporary American Bengal."

"She said half of the folks in her dorm were Cleveland Browns fans and the other half were Bengals fans," Collinsworth tells Purdy. "This girl wanted a picture of me to hang next to her roommate's picture of Brian Sipe. She said she wanted to prove that not only were the Bengals as good as the Browns, but just as good looking, too."

The Bengals have been riding the play of Collinsworth, their second-round pick from Florida, and Dan Ross, their veteran tight end helping revolutionize the position along with San Diego's Kellen Winslow.

But the day belongs to the man who has been as responsible as any for the new, wide-open passing game in the NFL. Isaac Curtis, the nine-year Bengals veteran from San Diego State that was so good and fast when he broke in that Bengals founder Paul Brown made them change the rules to prevent DBs from hitting receivers downfield five years ago, returns home in triumphant fashion.

"They were stupid," Collinsworth says of the Chargers after the game. "You can't cover Isaac one-on-one. It was laughable. Danny Ross made a bet in the first quarter. He said Isaac would catch 15."

It only took Curtis half that to blow up the Chargers. He catches eight balls for 147 yards and his first touchdown of the season, all in the first half, which is when all the fireworks happen in this one.

Cornerback Louis Breeden enters the NFL record book with the longest interception return in history with 102 yards for a touchdown that is the killing 14-point play. Dan Fouts, the record-breaking Chargers passer, has his club at the Bengals 4 looking to cut the lead to 14 late in the half.

But Breeden is shocked as Fouts doesn't even look his way and throws it right into his chest.

"It must have been one of those rhythm things," Breeden says in the locker room. "We were in double coverage and I don't even think Fouts looked. He just threw it."

The newspapers say the ball flies by wide receiver Wes Chandler, and he goes to one knee as Breeden gathers it in. "I knew I could go all the way. (Wide receiver) Charlie Joiner was the only Charger that could stop me."

Joiner gets a hand on Breeden early, at the 10, and that's it. The rest is one, long joyous trip back to Cincinnati because it is now 31-7. The 40-17 verdict is Chargers coach Don Coryell's worst home loss.

"As the Bengals boarded the plane for the happy flight home, someone asked rhetorically, "I wonder if Breeden's touchdown will be on halftime highlights Monday (night)," and the Dayton paper reported the response from a player as, "It took him so long to score it will probably be the whole highlights."

It takes Breeden 14 seconds to join Bob Smith (1949), Erich Barnes (1961) and Gary Barbaro (1977) in the record book.

The Bengals are now 7-3, two games up in their division with six to play, and the headline says, "We are for real, Bengals declare."

"I guess the world will know we are for real defensive lineman Mike St. Clair bellowed as he walked off the playing field," says a story underneath the headline. "We are for real, we are for real."

Quarterback Ken Anderson continues his MVP ride hitting 18 of 28 passes for 288 yards, two touchdowns and an interception before he leaves with a left shoulder injury.

"You have to give Anderson credit," says Chargers defensive end Leroy Jones. "He is a great quarterback. We blitzed him a lot and he just put it in places we weren't. He had a great game."

Back home, the fans are echoing the We're-For-Real mantra of the players. The Cincinnati Post has dispatched long-time scribe Bob Queenan into the streets during the Chargers game.

"The scene at Barleycorn's Sixth Street pub was reminiscent of Steelers games in Pittsburgh, Browns games in Cleveland, and years ago at Bengals games in Riverfront Stadium," Queenan writes.

As Cincinnati's Mike Bass hops on a fumble, Queenan quotes a patron yelling, "Air Coryell just lost another plane."

But the best news of the weekend comes a few days later when The Post hits the street at noon with Barry Cobb reporting, "Bengals head coach Forrest Gregg said he expects Kenny Anderson to be at practice Wednesday when the Bengals prepare to play the Los Angeles Rams here Sunday. X-rays taken at Christ Hospital this morning  showed Anderson suffered only a bruised capsule of his left shoulder."

It turns out Anderson is saved by a flak jacket. Bengals equipment manager Tom Gray said you could hear the crack a mile away when San Diego's Pete Shaw leveled Anderson.

"I guess it was worth the 300 bucks," Anderson says.

The career season of the Bengals money man continues.

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