March 3, 2015

1985: Denver Rolls Up Yardage to Defeat Stallions


The Denver Gold were 0-1 as they took on the Birmingham Stallions in a United States Football League game on March 3, 1985. A team that drew well at home but failed to post a winning record in either of its first two USFL seasons, the Gold now was coached by Darrel “Mouse” Davis, formerly of Portland State and most recently offensive coordinator of the Houston Gamblers. Utilizing the high-powered run and shoot offense, the Gamblers had been exciting and productive. Now Davis was bringing the same scheme to Denver, but the run and shoot had misfired in the opening week 31-10 loss to Oakland.

Birmingham, coached by Rollie Dotsch, was coming off of a 14-4 record in ’84 and won its first contest of 1985 (over New Jersey). The Stallions had QB Cliff Stoudt and WR Jim Smith, both formerly of the Steelers, and ex-Buffalo RB Joe Cribbs as key players on offense, which was anchored by an outstanding line.

There were 27,400 fans in attendance at Legion Field in Birmingham and they saw Denver get off to a fast start. On the offense’s first play from scrimmage, QB Vince Evans connected with RB Bill Johnson on a screen pass that gained 55 yards to the Birmingham one yard line. Johnson carried on the next play to gain the final yard and a touchdown and Brian Speelman added the extra point.

The Stallions responded by driving 80 yards in eight plays. Cliff Stoudt finished the series off with a seven-yard TD run and Danny Miller tied the score with the point after. It seemed as though the Gold would score again on the next possession as they reached the Birmingham nine, but FS Chuck Clanton recovered a fumble to snuff out the threat. Three plays later, however, Stoudt fumbled a bad snap that went out of the end zone for a safety to put the visitors back in the lead by 9-7.

Early in the second quarter, Evans threw long to RB Vincent White for a 48-yard touchdown. Speelman’s PAT put the Gold ahead by 16-7. Shortly thereafter, a Stoudt pass was intercepted by Clanton and, two plays after that, Evans completed a pass to WR Leonard Harris for a 39-yard TD. Speelman again converted and Denver was up by 23-7 with 8:33 remaining in the first half.

Later in the period, the Gold put together a 48-yard drive in nine plays that concluded with Speelman kicking a 28-yard field goal. The Stallions got a break on defense when Clanton intercepted his second pass of the game, returning it 23 yards to the Birmingham 48. Stoudt tossed a touchdown pass to Jim Smith eight plays later that covered nine yards with 32 seconds left on the clock. Miller kicked the extra point and the score was 26-14 at halftime.

Early in the third quarter, the Stallions drew closer as Stoudt threw to WR Joey Jones for a 53-yard TD. Miller converted and the Denver margin was down to five points at 26-21. The Gold came back with a 10-play, 78-yard series that was capped by Evans gaining one yard for a touchdown on a quarterback sneak. Speelman’s kick made it a 33-21 contest.

Early in the fourth quarter, Denver scored again when Johnson ran eight yards for a TD, followed by another Speelman extra point. The Stallions had opportunities to close the gap again, but twice came up empty inside the Denver ten in the final period.  They picked up two more points when Evans was tackled in the end zone for a safety, but it was of no consequence as the Gold came away with a convincing 40-23 win.

Denver compiled a total of 564 yards, with 284 coming on the ground, to 325 yards for the Stallions. The Gold also had the edge in first downs (24 to 19) and time of possession (35:02 to 24:58). However, Denver was hindered by five turnovers, to just one suffered by Birmingham, and 12 penalties, while only five flags were thrown on the Stallions.

Vince Evans completed 14 of 28 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns, although giving up three interceptions. RB Todd Gerhart led the impressive running game with 119 yards on 21 carries, followed by Bill Johnson’s 74 yards on 9 attempts that included two TDs, and Evans contributed 50 yards on five carries. Leonard Harris topped the Denver receivers with four catches for 74 yards.



For the Stallions, Cliff Stoudt was successful on 17 of 38 throws for 259 yards and two TDs, giving up one interception and scoring once on the ground. Joe Cribbs had just 36 yards on 9 carries. Jim Smith caught 6 passes for 83 yards and Joey Jones gained 96 yards on four receptions that included a TD. Chuck Clanton (pictured at left) starred on defense, accumulating all three interceptions, recovering a fumble, and getting credit for eight tackles.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Coach Davis of his team’s performance. “We had too many picks (interceptions), but we’re certainly pleased. We’re excited to get our first win and hope it’s the first of many.”

Denver won four of its next five games on the way to an 11-7 record that placed second in the Western Conference. The team ranked third in the USFL in total yards (6629) and, with Vince Evans splitting time at quarterback with Bob Gagliano, rated third in passing yards (4550). In the Gold’s only playoff game, they were thrashed in the Quarterfinal round by the Memphis Showboats. The Stallions recovered to go 13-5 and finish at the top of the Eastern Conference. They defeated Houston in the first round but lost to the Baltimore Stars at the Semifinal level. 

March 1, 2015

Highlighted Year: Miles Austin, 2009

Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys


Age: 25
4th season in pro football & with Cowboys
College: Monmouth
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 216

Prelude:
Austin set school records at Monmouth with 150 catches for 2867 yards (19.1 avg.) and 30 touchdowns over the course of 39 games. Coming out of a Division 1-AA program, he went undrafted in 2006 and signed with the Cowboys as a free agent. He was used exclusively as a kickoff returner as a rookie and had a 93-yard TD return in the postseason loss to Seattle. Austin continued to return kickoffs in 2007 and ’08 and caught a total of just 18 passes for 354 yards (19.7 avg.) and three TDs in a reserve role. The departure of WR Terrell Owens opened up an opportunity for Austin, who had demonstrated potential as a deep threat.

2009 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 81 [15]          
Most receptions, game – 10 (for 250 yds.) at Kansas City 10/11, (for 104 yds.) at NY Giants 12/6
Yards – 1320 [3, 1st in NFC]
Most yards, game – 250 (on 10 catches) at Kansas City 10/11
Average gain – 16.3 [10]
TDs – 11 [4, tied with Roddy White & Visanthe Shiancoe]
200-yard receiving games – 1
100-yard receiving games – 5

Rushing
Attempts – 2
Yards – -2
Average gain – -1.0
TDs – 0

Kickoff Returns
Returns – 7
Yards – 157
Average per return – 22.4
TDs – 0
Longest return – 29 yards

Scoring
TDs – 11 [14, tied with four others]
Points – 66

Postseason: 2 G
Pass receptions – 11
Most pass receptions, game – 7 vs. Philadelphia, NFC Wild Card playoff
Pass receiving yards – 116
Most pass receiving yards, game – 82 vs. Philadelphia, NFC Wild Card playoff
Average yards per reception – 10.6
Pass Receiving TDs – 1

Rushing attempts – 1
Rushing yards – 8
Rushing TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
Pro Bowl

Cowboys went 11-5 to finish first in the NFC East while ranking second in the NFL in total yards (6390). Won NFC Wild Card playoff over Philadelphia Eagles (34-14). Lost NFC Divisional playoff to Minnesota Vikings (34-3).

Aftermath:
Austin followed up with 69 catches for 1041 yards (15.1 avg.) and seven touchdowns in 2010, with the loss of QB Tony Romo six games into the season due to a broken collar bone and the addition of rookie WR Dez Bryant contributing to lowered production. He was again selected to the Pro Bowl. Hamstring problems limited Austin to ten games in 2011 but he bounced back by catching 66 passes for 943 yards (14.3 avg.) and six TDs in ’12. After being held to 11 games and 24 catches in 2013, he was released and moved on to Cleveland for 2014, where he had 47 receptions for 568 yards (12.1 avg.) before being sidelined with a lacerated kidney. Overall, over the course of nine seasons through 2014, six in a starting role, Austin has caught 348 passes for 5049 yards (14.5 avg.) and 36 TDs, with 301 of those receptions for 4481 yards and two scores coming with Dallas. He also returned 89 kickoffs for a 24.1-yard average, all with the Cowboys.

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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

February 27, 2015

1984: Panthers Edge Blitz on Last-Second Field Goal


On February 27, 1984 the Michigan Panthers began the defense of their United States Football League Championship in a Monday night home game against the Chicago Blitz. Head Coach Jim Stanley’s team still had the key performers that fueled the 12-6 title-winning squad of 1983. WR Anthony Carter provided big-play ability as a receiver and kick returner and RB Ken Lacy had been the league’s third-leading rusher. QB Bobby Hebert was back behind center, although he held out and had only ten days of practice coming into the opening game. On defense, LB John Corker was coming off of a year in which he topped the USFL with 28 sacks, nearly twice as many as the runner-up.

The Blitz was a very different club from the one that had also gone 12-6 under Head Coach George Allen in the inaugural season.  The franchise was effectively traded, with Allen and the bulk of his veteran-laden roster heading to Arizona while the 1983 Wranglers were transplanted to the Windy City. Many of the former Arizona players were jettisoned, however. The new coach was Marv Levy and there were several NFL veterans that were acquired, most notably QB Vince Evans of the Bears. The state of the defense was a major concern coming into the opener against the Panthers. 

The Pontiac Silverdome was covered, but a blizzard outside held attendance down to 22,428 and caused many in the crowd to be late in arriving. The Blitz had the first possession and converted a third-and-five situation as Vince Evans threw to TE Mark Keel to advance to the Michigan 44. RB Larry Canada ran effectively and Kevin Seibel kicked a 41-yard field goal to give Chicago the early lead.

The Panthers struck quickly in response. Following two strong carries by Ken Lacy, Bobby Hebert went deep to a streaking WR Derek Holloway, who got beyond the coverage and hauled the pass in for a 49-yard touchdown. Novo Bojovic added the extra point.

Chicago responded with a drive of 80 yards in 10 plays that included key passes to WR Keith MaGee and another good run by Canada. It concluded with Evans leaping into the end zone from a yard out. Seibel kicked the point after and the Blitz was back in front by 10-7.

The Panthers were driving as the opening period ended and, on the first play of the second quarter, Hebert threw to Anthony Carter for a 16-yard touchdown. Bojovic’s extra point put the home team ahead by four.

The teams traded punts, with the Blitz getting the better of the field position and driving 59 yards in eight plays that culminated in a two-yard carry for a TD by Canada. However, an errant snap on the try for extra point kept the score at 16-14 in favor of Chicago.  So it remained until the final seconds of the first half as the Panthers drove into scoring territory and Bojovic kicked a 39-yard field goal. Michigan led the back-and-forth game by 17-16 at halftime.

The Panthers took the second half kickoff and again advanced into Chicago territory, but came up empty when Bojovic was wide to the left on a 33-yard field goal attempt. They got the ball back a short time later thanks to a fumble by the Blitz at their 31 yard line, but a holding penalty wiped out a good gain on a swing pass and Hebert was sacked on third down to take Michigan out of field goal range.

The score remained unchanged as the contest moved into the fourth quarter. A punt by the Panthers that was downed inside the Chicago five yard line was negated by an illegal procedure penalty and the re-kick was blocked by RB Jim Stone. MaGee was unable to grab the bouncing ball as it skittered through the Michigan end zone, but the play still resulted in a safety that put the Blitz back in the lead by an 18-17 score.



Chicago got good field position near midfield on the resulting free kick, but an Evans pass was intercepted by CB Oliver Davis, who returned it 23 yards. The Panthers moved backward rather than forward due to a holding penalty and a sack, forcing another punt.

Two dropped passes caused the Blitz to have to punt with less than three minutes remaining to play and Carter returned Jeff Gossett’s 57-yard kick 13 yards. Hebert threw to Lacy for a 28-yard gain that nearly went the distance and Michigan then pounded straight away on the ground until a throw to RB Cleo Miller put the ball on the Chicago three with the clock down to 18 seconds. After one run into the line, Bojovic came in to kick a 20-yard field goal with no time remaining and the Panthers won by a final score of 20-18.

Michigan led in total yards (397 to 275) and first downs (22 to 17), although time of possession was almost even. Both clubs ran the ball well, with the Blitz gaining 144 yards to 124 for the Panthers, but Michigan was much more successful through the air (273 to 131). Chicago turned the ball over twice, to none suffered by the Panthers, but Michigan was hurt by 12 penalties, at a cost of 79 yards, to seven flags thrown on the visitors.

Bobby Hebert completed 20 of 34 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns while giving up no interceptions. Ken Lacy rushed for 98 yards on 16 carries and caught four passes for another 58 yards. Anthony Carter had 7 pass receptions for 108 yards.

For the Blitz, Vince Evans was successful on 16 of 32 throws for 134 yards and was picked off once. Larry Canada gained 84 yards on 12 rushing attempts and RB Glenn Ford contributed 41 yards on 8 carries. Mark Keel and WR Marcus Anderson each had five catches, for 61 and 40 yards, respectively.



“Sometimes I didn’t feel right out there, and sometimes I felt 100 percent as good as I did last year,” said Bobby Hebert. “My lack of practice time hurt. My timing wasn’t always right and I threw some bad passes.”

“I thought we were fortunate to win,” summed up Jim Stanley of his team’s rusty performance. “I feel like we dodged a bullet tonight.”

Following the successful, if unsteady, start, the Panthers won their next five games before disaster struck when Anthony Carter was lost for the year with a broken arm, the first of several key injuries. Michigan promptly dropped four straight contests and barely made it into the postseason as a second place Wild Card with a 10-8 record, losing in the first round to the Los Angeles Express in triple overtime. Chicago never got on track, struggling to a 5-13 tally and placing last in the Central Division.

February 26, 2015

Highlighted Year: Jim Brown, 1959

Fullback, Cleveland Browns



Age: 23
3rd season in pro football & with Browns
College: Syracuse
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 228

Prelude:
Following an outstanding career at Syracuse, in which he distinguished himself as an all-around athlete (lacrosse, basketball, track & field) as well as in football, Brown was chosen in the first round of the 1957 NFL draft by the Browns. With his blend of speed, power, and agility, he moved quickly into the starting lineup as a rookie, leading the league in rushing with 942 yards that included a single-game record at the time of 237. He received MVP as well as Rookie of the Year honors, was a consensus first-team All-Pro and was selected to the Pro Bowl. Brown followed that up in 1958 by setting a new single-season rushing record with 1527 yards, again receiving MVP, first-team All-NFL, and Pro Bowl honors.

1959 Season Summary
Appeared in all 12 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 290 [1]
Most attempts, game – 37 (for 147 yds.) at Chi. Cardinals 10/4
Yards – 1329 [1]
Most yards, game – 178 yards (on 32 carries) at Baltimore 11/1
Average gain – 4.6 [11]
TDs – 14 [1]
100-yard rushing games – 8

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 24      
Yards – 190
Average gain – 7.9
TDs – 0

Kickoff Returns
Returns – 4
Yards – 88
Average per return – 22.0
TDs – 0
Longest return – 29 yards

All-Purpose yards – 1607 [1]

Scoring
TDs – 14 [1, tied with Raymond Berry]
Points – 84 [3, tied with Raymond Berry & Bobby Joe Conrad]

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: AP, NEA, UPI, NY Daily News, Sporting News
Pro Bowl

Browns went 7-5 to tie for second place with the Eagles in the NFL Eastern Conference while leading the league in rushing yards (2149).

Aftermath:
Brown’s rushing title in 1959 was the third of eight in nine seasons, which included 1960 and ‘61. Along the way he set numerous records as well as a new standard for running backs to be measured against. Following a relatively down year in 1962, Brown broke his own single-season rushing record in 1963 and, after compiling two more league-topping performances in 1964 and ’65, retired as the NFL’s all-time leader in rushing (12,312 yards) and touchdowns (126). Brown averaged 5.2 yards per carry and 104.3 yards per game over the course of his career. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in all nine seasons, was a first-team All-Pro eight times, and received MVP recognition on four occasions. Brown’s #32 was retired by the Browns and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1971.

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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

February 24, 2015

1997: Falcons Obtain Chris Chandler from Oilers


On February 24, 1997 the Atlanta Falcons took a step toward resolving their need for a new starting quarterback. QB Chris Chandler was obtained from the Houston (soon to be Tennessee) Oilers for fourth- and sixth-round draft picks in the upcoming 1997 draft.

Chandler had originally entered the NFL as a third round draft choice of the Indianapolis Colts out of Washington in 1988. Mobile and with a strong arm, as well as highly intelligent with a cocky self-confidence, he took over as starting quarterback when Jack Trudeau suffered a season-ending knee injury. Helped by the presence of RB Eric Dickerson in the backfield to attract the attention of opposing defenses, Chandler showed promise and the previously-winless club was 9-4 with him behind center. However, in what would become a recurring theme throughout his career, a knee injury limited him to three games in 1989 and the club traded up to get Illinois QB Jeff George in the first round of the 1990 draft.

Traded to Tampa Bay for a first draft pick, Chandler backed up QB Vinny Testaverde for a year and was waived during the ’91 season, at which point he was picked up by the Cardinals. He had a good year with a mediocre team in 1992, taking over for the injured Timm Rosenbach, but played in only four games in ’93 and moved on to the Rams and, after one season, to the Oilers for 1995, where he was reunited with offensive coordinator Jerry Rhome, who had held the same role with Phoenix. Installed as the starting quarterback while rookie Steve McNair was kept on the bench to learn, Chandler put together two good years but, with McNair judged ready to take over the starting job, the rebuilding Oilers chose to deal him away. Intelligent and capable, Chandler had also gained a reputation for being fragile (thus earning the unfortunate nickname “Crystal Chandelier”) and quick to complain when not starting.

The Falcons were coming off of a dreadful 3-13 record in 1996 under June Jones, which was a hugely disappointing following a 9-7 record that resulted in a playoff spot in ’95. Jones had installed a version of the run-and-shoot offense that QB Jeff George, obtained from the Colts in 1994, was highly productive in operating. However, George had been suspended and later released by the Falcons following a shouting match with Jones on the sideline during a nationally televised game in September. He moved on to the Oakland Raiders and Bobby Hebert, who took over for George, chose to retire (which was expected but not yet confirmed at the time of the trade for Chandler). The Falcons had also talked to San Francisco’s backup QB Elvis Grbac, who went on to sign with the Chiefs.

“We believe he gives us a chance where we can win immediately,” said Dan Reeves, Atlanta’s new head coach. “We feel like he gives us the ability to compete. He’s a guy who can get the job done.”

Those words seemed overly optimistic when the Falcons got off to a 1-7 start, including losses in the first five games, and Chandler missed two starts and was knocked out of four other games with assorted injuries. However, both he and the team rebounded to go 6-2 the rest of the way for a 7-9 overall record. Chandler ranked second in NFL passing with a 95.1 rating as he threw for 2692 yards and 20 touchdowns while giving up just seven interceptions. He was named to the Pro Bowl.

The stage was set for a bigger year in 1998. This time the Falcons started strong (5-2) and finished even stronger (nine straight wins to close out the regular season) on the way to a 14-2 record and the Western Division title. Chandler again missed two games due to injury but had another Pro Bowl year as he threw for 3154 yards and 25 TDs, compiling a 100.9 rating. To be sure, the running game, led by All-Pro RB Jamal Anderson (1846 yards to lead the NFC) was a key component of the offense’s success, but Chandler showed improvement as a team leader and, surrounded by capable performers, he excelled. Atlanta edged the 49ers in the Divisional playoff round and then upset the Minnesota Vikings in overtime to win the NFC Championship before being soundly beaten by Denver in the Super Bowl.

The ’98 season proved to be the pinnacle of Chandler’s career and the Falcons failed to post a winning record during the remaining three years that he was with them. The loss of Jamal Anderson early in the 1999 season severely hindered the offense and Chandler again had trouble with injuries, missing four full games. He also clashed with Coach Reeves as the team sputtered to a 5-11 record and the complaints resurfaced about the quarterback’s fragility and poor attitude when facing adversity.

The record fell to 4-12 in 2000 and Chandler threw more interceptions (12) than TD passes (10) for the first time in nine years. He was benched in favor of backup QB Doug Johnson at one point late in the season and after taking a significant battering due to offensive line deficiencies, but showed maturity in accepting the demotion. The Falcons traded up in the 2001 NFL draft to select Virginia Tech QB Michael Vick and Chandler, at age 36, was placed in the role of mentor to the young quarterback – much as he had done in Houston previously. He finished out his Atlanta stint by starting 14 games and completing 61.1 percent of his passes for 2847 yards and 16 touchdowns, against 14 interceptions, for a 7-9 club.

Following his release by the Falcons after the season, Chandler moved on to the Bears for two years, where he started occasionally, and finished his career as a backup with the St. Louis Rams in 2004. He had his most productive seasons in Atlanta, where he completed 981 of 1672 passes (58.7) for 13,268 yards and 87 touchdowns while giving up 56 interceptions and being sacked 197 times. His overall career completion percentage was 58.1 as he totaled 28,484 passing yards and 170 TDs against 146 interceptions. But he never appeared in all 16 games in any season, a product of his chronic injury problems.

As for the draft choices that the Oilers received in exchange for Chandler in 1997, the fourth round pick was used to take WR Derrick Mason from Michigan State and the choice in the sixth round was in turn traded to New Orleans, where it went for TE Nicky Savoie out of LSU. Mason had a productive career over the course of eight seasons with the relocated Oilers (they moved to Tennessee in ’97 and were renamed the Titans in 1999), catching 453 passes for 6114 yards and 37 touchdowns. He garnered consensus first-team All-NFL honors in 2000 and was twice selected to the Pro Bowl.

February 21, 2015

Highlighted Year: Ken Anderson, 1974

Quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals



Age: 25
4th season in pro football & with Bengals
College: Augustana (IL)
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 211

Prelude:
Anderson, who was well-regarded despite coming from a small college, was chosen by the Bengals in the third round of the 1971 NFL draft, and took over as starting quarterback in his second season. Mobile, intelligent, and with a good arm, he also adapted well to QB coach Bill Walsh’s early version of the West Coast passing attack with short timing passes. He broke out in 1973, throwing for 2428 yards and 18 touchdowns with a passer rating of 81.2 while the Bengals went 10-4 and won the AFC Central title.

1974 Season Summary
Appeared and started in 13 of 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Passing
Attempts – 328 [7]
Most attempts, game – 44 vs. Houston 10/27
Completions – 213 [1]
Most completions, game – 30 vs. Houston 10/27
Yards – 2667 [1]
Most yards, game – 352 vs. Houston 10/27
Completion percentage – 64.9 [1]
Yards per attempt – 8.1 [1]
TD passes – 18 [5]
Most TD passes, game – 4 vs. Kansas City 11/24
Interceptions – 10 [20, tied with Dan Pastorini, Mike Livingston & Jerry Tagge]
Most interceptions, game – 2 at San Francisco 9/29, at Oakland 10/20, at Houston 11/17
Passer rating – 95.7 [1]
300-yard passing games – 1
200-yard passing games – 6

Rushing
Attempts – 43
Most attempts, game – 7 (for 70 yds.) vs. Washington 10/6
Yards – 314
Most yards, game – 70 yards (on 7 carries) vs. Washington 10/6
Average gain – 7.3
TDs – 2

Scoring
TDs – 2
Points – 12

Awards & Honors:
2nd team All-NFL: NEA
2nd team All-AFC: UPI

Bengals went 7-7 to finish third in the AFC Central while leading the conference in passing yards (2511).

Aftermath:
Anderson again led the NFL in passing (93.9 rating), passing yards (3169), and yards per attempt (8.4) in 1975 and was selected to the Pro Bowl in ‘75 and ’76. The team regularly contended during that period, but through coaching changes and attrition, the Bengals slumped later in the decade and Anderson, who also battled injuries, even briefly lost his starting job during the 1980 season. He came back with a MVP performance in 1981 in which he led the NFL with a career-high 98.4 passer rating and Cincinnati won the AFC Championship. Anderson again led the NFL in passing during the strike-shortened 1982 season (95.3) and completed a then-record 70.6 % of his passes. He led the league once more in completion percentage in ’83 (66.7) but after one last year as the starting quarterback, he backed up Boomer Esiason in 1985 and ’86, his last two seasons, all spent with the Bengals. Overall, he passed for 32,838 yards and 197 TDs, averaging 7.3 yards per attempt. He also rushed for 2220 yards and 20 touchdowns. Anderson was a consensus first-team All-NFL selection once, received second-team honors twice more, and was chosen to the Pro Bowl four times.

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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

February 19, 2015

Highlighted Year: Rudy Bukich, 1964

Quarterback, Chicago Bears



Age:  32
10th season in pro football, 5th with Bears (4th complete)
College: Southern California
Height: 6’1”   Weight: 205

Prelude:
Bukich, who came off the bench to star in the 1953 Rose Bowl, was chosen by the Los Angeles Rams in the second round of the ’53 NFL draft. While he impressed with his strong passing arm, Bukich saw little action as a rookie and then went into the military for two years. He won a National Service Championship as quarterback for Fort Ord and then returned to the Rams in 1956, going back to the bench. After throwing 55 passes in two seasons in LA, Bukich was traded to Washington in 1957 and continued to be a little-used backup. He moved on to the Bears during the ’58 season and continued to sit before being dealt to Pittsburgh in a “lend-lease” arrangement. He sat behind Bobby Layne but, when the aging veteran was injured during 1961, Bukich saw his first extended action, starting seven straight games. After having thrown a total of 157 passes over six years, he tossed 156 and completed 89 (57.1 %) for 1253 yards and 11 TDs, and despite 16 interceptions, made a favorable impression. The Bears brought him back in 1962 as the “player to be named” in the original deal that sent him to Pittsburgh and he returned to a backup role behind Bill Wade, which continued during the ’63 NFL Championship season. With the team and Wade slumping in 1964, Bukich was inserted into the starting lineup and performed well before being sidelined by a shoulder separation.

1964 Season Summary
Appeared in 9 of 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Passing
Attempts – 160 [15]
Most attempts, game – 37 at LA Rams 11/15
Completions – 99 [15]
Most completions, game – 23 at LA Rams 11/15
Yards – 1099 [16]
Most yards, game – 271 at LA Rams 11/15
Completion percentage – 61.9 [1]
Yards per attempt – 6.9 [10]
TD passes – 12 [11, tied with Ed Brown]
Most TD passes, game – 3 vs. Baltimore 11/8, at LA Rams 11/15, at Detroit 11/26
Interceptions – 7 [13]
Most interceptions, game – 2 at Green Bay 9/13, at Detroit 11/26, vs. Green Bay 12/5
Passer rating – 89.0 [4]
200-yard passing games – 3

Rushing
Attempts – 12
Most attempts, game – 3 (for 12 yds.) vs. Dallas 11/1, (for 9 yds.) at Detroit 11/26
Yards – 28
Most yards, game – 12 yards (on 3 carries) vs. Dallas 11/1
Yards per attempt – 2.3
TDs – 0

Bears went 5-9 to finish sixth in the NFL Western Conference while leading the league in passing yards (2841) – but ranking last in rushing yards (1166).

Aftermath:
Bukich followed up with his finest season in 1965, leading the league in passing as he threw for 2641 yards and 20 touchdowns while giving up just 9 interceptions. The Bears went 9-5 but dropped back to a losing record in ’66. Bukich nearly reversed his TD-to-INT ratio, throwing for 10 touchdowns and being intercepted 21 times. He returned to a backup role for his last two seasons in 1967 and ’68. Overall, Bukich started just 41 games in the course of 14 seasons and passed for 8433 yards and 61 TDs with 74 interceptions. His most productive years came with the Bears, where he accounted for 6254 passing yards and 46 TD passes against 45 interceptions.

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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970