Quarterback Ken Anderson of the Cincinati Bengals uttered what could become a very popular phrase in the visitors dressing room at Memorial Stadium this season when he said: "This was our best offensive game of the year."
Cincinnati scored on its last four possessions today to crush the Baltimore Colts, 41-19, and remain in a first-place tie with Pittsburgh and Houston in the AFC Central Division with a 4-2 record.
The way the Baltimore Colts are playing defense these days, what few fans still are showing up here (only 33,060 today) will get to see plenty of scoring. After an opening one-point victory at New England, the Colts have lost five straight and have given up 186 points, more than anybody else in the league.
"They just couldn't seem to stop us," said Anderson, who completed 21 of 27 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns before reserve Jack Thompson took over in the fourth quarter.
As usual, the Colts never mounted a pass rush and Anderson picked apart the secondary. During one stretch, he completed nine in a row, and, in the second half, the 11-year veteran connected on eight of nine attempts.
"We're just not playing good defense," said Colt Coach Mike McCormack. "We haven't been able to sustain a strong pass rush, and when you give a guy like Anderson time, he can kill you."
Despite another outstanding passing performance by Bert Jones -- 22 completions in 30 attempts for 310 yards -- the Colts didn't get a touchdown until the fourth quarter. By that time, they were trailing, 24-5.
The Colts had a chance to take the lead and the momentum after Hosea Taylor blocked a Cincinnati punt out of the end zone for a safety and Nesby Glasgow returned the free kick 35 yards to the Bengal 41. The running of Zachary Dixon, filling in for the injured Randy McMillan, followed by an eight-yard pass to Don McCauley, gave the Colts a first down on the three-yard line.
Dixon gained two yards, but then Jones had to throw the ball away. Dixon was stopped for a yard loss and the Colts had to settle for a field goal. Cincinnati then marched 77 yards in six plays to take a 10-5 lead it never lost.
Anderson finished the drive with an 18-yard pass to rookie Cris Collinsworth in the end zone. Less than two minutes later, Anderson threw another touchdown pass, a 20-yarder to another rookie wide receiver, David Verser, and the Bengals were on top at intermission, 17-5.
"One of the big differences in our team from last year (6-10) has been the addition of Collinsworth and Verser," said Bengal Coach Forrest Gregg. "They've really helped our passing game."
The Colts drove 48 yards on their first possession of the second half, but a third-down sack took them out of field position. The Bengals answered with a 66-yard march that took just five plays. Anderson floated a two-yard pass to tight end Dan Ross all alone in the end zone that sealed the Colts' defeat.
"I don't think anybody gave up," McCormack said in answer to an obvious question. "I told the players afterwards that everybody was going to write us off now, say we wouldn't win another game, that we have to come back, prove that we have pride."
That comeback is going to be extremely difficult because next Sunday that porous secondary will have to contend with Dan Fouts and the pass-happy San Diego Chargers.