It is the next-to-last game of the season and the defending AFC champion Bengals need this one on Dec. 17, 1989 against the hated Oilers to stay in the playoff chase with an 8-7 record. They do a lot more than that in matching the club record for most points in a game and exceeding the already loose bounds of the intense rivalry between head coaches Sam Wyche of Cincinnati and Jerry Glanville of Houston.
After backup Bengals quarterback Erik Wilhelm throws an incomplete pass to rookie running back Eric Ball on third-and-six, Wyche opts for Jim Breech's 30-yard field goal with 21 seconds left to account for the 61-7 final.
All of which enrages Glanville, and after the game Wyche gives an exaggerated wave to him stomping off the field instead of the handshake before blistering him in the postgame press conference as classless and other sundry adjectives.
Before the verbal fireworks the Bengals offense fired its own early, scoring the first four times it had the ball to ease to a 28-0 lead. With the 147-yard day of wide receiver Tim McGee and the 107 yards from receiver Eddie Brown, quarterback Boomer Esiason has one of his best days ever with four touchdown passes for 326 yards on 20-of-27 passing.
Blame Ball for the late field goal. Ball, the second-round pick from UCLA and the club's current director of player relations, churns the longest run of his career on a 27-yarder in the last two minutes that sets up Wyche's call. Ball finishes as the Bengals' leading rusher with 86 yards on 13 carries. Wyche may have wished he saved nine more points and a few more yards. Eight days later on Christmas and Monday Night Football, the Bengals lose, 29-21, to finish 8-8 and out of the playoffs.