Ken Anderson, last season's NFL player of the year, passed for 354 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another one today to lead the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals to a 27-6 victory over the Houston Oilers in both clubs' season opener.
Anderson completed 29 of 40 passes for 354 yards without an interception as the Bengals defense allowed the Oilers just 37 total net yards in the first half. Anderson threw touchdown passes of 18 yards to Dan Ross and seven yards to Charles Alexander, and ran two yards for another score.
The Bengals added field goals of 43 and 25 yards from Jim Breech.
"This is the best job we've ever done against Houston," said Cincinnati Coach Forrest Gregg.
Houston barely averted a shutout when quarterback Gifford Nielsen, with 9:31 left to play, threw a 38-yard TD pass to Mike Holston with the Oilers trailing 27-0. Florian Kempf's low extra-point attempt was blocked.
Fullback Earl Campbell carried the Oilers' offensive workload, rushing 20 times for 82 yards and catching four passes for 23 yards.
The Bengals' first scoring series encompassed 85 yards, most of it accounted for by Anderson, who completed his first six passes for 78 yards on the drive. The touchdown came on Anderson's pass to Ross with 7:46 remaining in the first period.
Breech added a 43-yard field goal before the half.