Kenneth Allan Anderson was born on February 15, 1949 in Batavia, Illinois. He is a former NFL quarterback who spent 16 seasons playing for the Cincinnati Bengals and later returned as a position coach. He is currently the quarterbacks’ coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Anderson Enters the NFL
Anderson played his college football at Augustana College (Illinois), and was selected in the third round, 67th overall in the 1971 NFL Draft by the Bengals. He earned the starting quarterback job in 1972, his second season. He was accurate on short-range passes and with his running ability he was a perfect fit for a Bill Walsh offense. Walsh was Anderson’s quarterbacks coach. Ken is considered to be one of the first quarterbacks to run what would become known as the “West Coast Offense.” One of the finest performances of his early career was in a 1975 Monday Night Football game against the Buffalo Bills. In the game, Anderson passed for a franchise record 447 yards and threw 2 touchdowns while the Bengals racked up a franchise record of 553 offensive yards on their way to a 33-21 win. It was the team’s first ever win in a Monday night game.
Anderson's Passing Titles
Ken Anderson was a top notch NFL quarterback for several seasons. Four times in his career, he led the NFL in passing. He did this in 1974, 1975, 1981, and 1982 according to a Football Digest November 1, 2001 article. When he retired, his passer rating was the 10th best of all time for a career.
Anderson's 1981 Season
Ken Anderson had one of the finest seasons in NFL history and the finest in the history of the Cincinnati Bengals up to that point. Anderson completed 300 of 479 passes, a 62.6% completion percentage for 3,754, 29 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions for a 98.4 quarterback rating. He also rushed the ball 46 times for 320 yards and 1 touchdown. Here are some of his standout games. Week 4 against Buffalo he was 28-40 for 328 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 27-24 win. Week 6 at Baltimore, Anderson completed 21-27 for 257 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 41-19 romp over the Colts. Week 7 against the Pittsburgh Steelers he was 16-28 for 346 yards and 2 touchdowns in a 34-7 victory. Week 9 he faced Houston and hit 21-30 passes for 281 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Bengals rolled 34-21. Week 12 versus Denver, he was 25-37 for 396 yards and 3 touchdown passes. He also added a rushing touchdown in a 38-21 victory. Week 13 at Cleveland Anderson was 26-32 for 235 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 41-21 win over the Browns. Click Here to see his game stats for the entire season. Anderson was the MVP of the league that year and led his team to the Super Bowl.
Anderson - The Freezer Bowl
It was January 10, 1982 and the Cincinnati Bengals hosted the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Championship game. Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow, and the high powered Chargers were looking forward to a shootout game against Ken Anderson and the high scoring Bengals. The weather stepped up and delivered a -59 degree temperature with the wind chill. Despite the cold weather, 46000 plus fans showed up to cheer on their Bengals in what would later be called “The Freezer Bowl.” Ken Anderson played the entire game without a glove on either hand. He was extremely efficient completing 14-22 passes for 161 yards and 2 touchdown passes. He also used his legs to pick up yards and first downs, running for 39 yards in the game. Dan Fouts, his warm weather counterpart, did not fare so well, throwing two interceptions. The Bengals went on to win the game 27-7 and went on to the Super Bowl to face the 49ers.
Anderson in Super Bowl XVI
The Cincinnati Bengals finished 12-4 in the regular season and played against the San Francisco 49ers who finished 13-3. The records would have been reversed if the Bengals could have defeated the 49ers in the regular season. Going into the game, the Bengals had Ken Anderson who had won three passing titles against a rising star in Joe Montana. Many believed the Bengals had the advantage at the quarterback position, and for good reason. Anderson was the best player in football in 1981 when he threw 29 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions while Montana was solid, but not spectacular. Anderson and the Bengals spotted the 49ers with a 20-0 halftime lead. Anderson had thrown two interceptions. In the second half, Anderson was spectacular, but it was a little too late to gain the victory. When the game was done, Ken Anderson had completed 25 passes (then a Super Bowl record) in 34 attempts for a 73.5% completion percentage (also a Super Bowl record) for over 300 yards and 2 touchdowns. Both of his records have since been broken. In the end, the Bengals came up short, losing to the 49ers 26-21.
Ken Anderson - HOF?
In his first year of eligibility, Ken Anderson was nominated for the Hall of Fame and made the cut to the final 15. During Ken Anderson’s career he was a great leader and an excellent quarterback. If he had won that Super Bowl game I believe he would already be in Canton. However, now he waits and with the way passing records are being broken, it is possible he will never get in. Time will tell if Anderson is a Hall of Fame quarterback. History tells us he was one of the finest quarterbacks of his generation. I believe he belongs in Canton - winning four passing titles and leading his team to the Super Bowl.
By A. Goodin, 20Yardline.com