Ken Anderson achieved something in 1982 that no Hall of Fame quarterback was able to achieve before him. He completed an NFL record 70.6 percent of his passes, becoming the first quarterback of the modern era to complete at least 70 percent of his passes in a single season.
Anderson visited with the Talk of Fame Network “5 Games podcast” and that season – and a Monday night game against the Chargers that year – are the feature attraction of this the final installment of the his series. He talked NFL debuts, AFC title games and Super Bowls in the previous installments.
Anderson completed 218 of his 309 passes in the strike-shortened 1982 season to set the record – a record that would stand for 27 years before Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints would complete 70.6 percent of his passes in 2009.
“I remember talking to Drew Brees about it one time and they had a long list of quarterback records up in their quarterback room in New Orleans,” Anderson said. “That was one of them. Then he breaks the record and I had to get on him a little bit because he didn’t play in the last game. He kinda took that one off. Maybe if he had played I might still have it.”
Cincinnati won the AFC in 1981 and followed that up with a 7-2 record in 1981, giving the Bengals a share of the best record in the AFC with the Miami Dolphins. That season gave Anderson his fourth and final NFL passing title. He won twice in the 19070s and twice more in the 1980s.
Anderson was quick to point out that he may have set the record but it wasn’t without help.
“It’s having a good team, a good offensive line that gives you protection and if you look at the group of receivers that we had… Coming off a the Super Bowl year we knew we were going to be a good football team again. You don’t do that unless you have good players around you.”
The best day of Anderson’s 1982 season occurred at night – a Monday Night game against the San Diego Chargers – a rematch of the 1981 AFC title game. The Bengals won that title game but lost in the rematch in one of the best offensive shootouts the Monday Night audience has ever witnessed. Anderson passed for 416 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another and Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts threw for 435 yards and a touchdown as the Chargers prevailed, 50-34.
“That game was a lot of fun,” Anderson said. “I didn’t know how the game was going to start and there had been talk about Air Coryell but (Bengals offensive coordinator) Lindy Infante’s philosophy was let’s go out and show them how we can throw the football. I don’t know if it was 12, 15 or 20 but we threw the ball a lot coming out of the gate. Dan had a little bit better night than we had but it was kind of fun to get into those shootouts once in a while.”
Anderson also talked about coaching Ben Roethlisberger and winning his only Super Bowl ring as an assistant coach with the Steelers. He talks about the most important trait he looks for in a quarterback, playing with – and against – Hall of Fame wide receiver Charlie Joiner and how the rules changes in the 1970s triggered the NFL’s passing explosion.
You can listen to this podcast – as well as “5 Games” podcasts with Hall of Famers Jerry Kramer, as Charles Haley, Jam Ham, Mike Haynes, Willie Lanier and more – at VokalNow.com or by subscribing to our podcasts at iTunes. Click the links below.