1981 AFC Championship Game: Chargers vs. Bengals | “The Freezer Bowl” | NFL Full Game

1981 AFC Championship Game: Chargers vs. Bengals | “The Freezer Bowl” | NFL Full Game


>>Hello, everyone. Dick Enberg with Merlin Olsen in Cincinnati. Just simply, the meteorologist put it this way — “It’s gone from bitter cold to brutally cold.” Did you ever play in anything like it?>>I didn’t play in this cold of weather. I played in some cold games, Dick, but nothing to match this.>>For Don Coryell, the temperature differential from last week, when he was in short sleeves, 84 degrees in Miami, when they defeated the Dolphins in overtime. Minus-59 today. Well, you’ve got to be a mathematician to figure out the difference. And that’s about the difference, today, between the temperature if this game was being played in San Diego or here in Cincinnati. Forrest Gregg, the AFC Coach of the Year. Some Vaseline applied to his face to protect him from this bitter cold. He remembers a day in the early ’60s when, with the Green Bay Packers, he played in New York, came out of the game with a limp ear. He said it just looked like a dead rose. Just flopped right over. He thought he’d never retain the right position of that ear. And, fortunately, it came back for him. It was that cold that day, but it’s colder today.>>Both coaches going to be hard-pressed today to find a way to cope with this situation, to find a way to win. We’re going to find out how resourceful these two teams are in combating this cold.>>The good news and the bad news for San Diego. The good news is — they will get the ball first. The bad news is — they will get it going into the wind, going left to right. The quarterbacks will be throwing into a wind that’s gusting up to 25 miles an hour. James Brooks is the deep man for San Diego. Led the entire NFL in all-purpose yardage. Jim Breech kicks it off. It’s short, and that figures. Brooks at the 9. 15. 20. And he’s down at the 25-yard line. Rick Razzano and Tom Dinkel downfield for Cincinnati. Dan Fouts, another banner year. Record-setting NFL year for Fouts, throwing the football. Chuck Muncie tied an NFL record with 19 rushing touchdowns. James Brooks led the NFL in all-purpose yardage. Charlie Joiner — his best year ever. Wes Chandler certainly has found a home in San Diego. And the tight end, Kellen Winslow, an All-Pro. From the 25. Well, the crowd is cold, but it is noisy. It’s Muncie. A gain of about 3, maybe 4 to the 29-yard line. Glenn Cameron made the tackle. Here’s the offensive front five for San Diego. Billy Shields at left tackle. The left guard, All-Pro Doug Wilkerson. The center — Don Macek. At right guard, four times in a Super Bowl with Minnesota, Ed White. And Russ Washington — he said, “I won’t let you take my picture, ’cause the last time I did that, I injured my knee and I was out for the year.” So Washington would not pose for our cameras.>>Maybe something in that first play — they came out running the football. Let’s see what Fouts does on second and 6.>>Winslow in motion. They run it to the left to Muncie. And he has a first down as he crosses the 35-yard line. Bryan Hicks, number 27, came up from his safety spot to make the tackle. So, the Chargers run wide right and wide left on the first two scrimmage plays and have a first down. Cincinnati, defensively. And it was a better defense than the Chargers on the course of the year. Eddie Edwards, after an injury, back in the lineup. Wilson Whitley on the nose of the center. And Ross Browner the other front lineman. Bo Harris, one of the four linebackers, with Jim LeClair the leading tackler, Glenn Cameron, and Reggie Williams, who leads the Bengals in sacks. And Fouts calls time. Ball at the 36-yard line. And Fouts looked at the Cincinnati set and, with the play called, decided he’d better exercise a time-out. Boy, that’s got to be a long way for everyone to call a time-out in this weather. No one’s going to relish any time-outs. The rest of the Bengals’ defense, the back four. Louis Breeden had that 102-yard touchdown against San Diego. Veteran Ken Riley, over 50 interceptions in his fine career. Bobby Kemp, eighth-round draft pick. What a job he’s done at one safety spot. And Bryan Hicks, another young safetyman for Cincinnati.>>Dick, a couple of things we ought to consider in the early going here. First, the one thing that the players have out there, it appears, is good footing today. This turf is frozen dry, and the footing should be pretty good, except for the treacherous far corner of the end zone. One of the other big things to consider this day, on a cold day, with any team, is fumbles and turnovers, especially so with Chuck Muncie. If they’re going to rely on him, he’s had a history of coughing the football up, has a hard time holding it, appears to run in a straight-up position. And, a lot of times, those helmets bang right into that football. But a costly turnover in the wrong part of the field could be the difference in a game like this.>>It will be an interesting contrast in the two top runners. Muncie, although he’s a big man, likes to run wide, use his speed. Johnson, a burly fullback in the traditional sense, at 250 pounds, runs tackle-to-tackle, primarily, and rarely fumbles. First down, San Diego, at the 36. Fouts’ first throw of the game. And he misses Winslow at the 40-yard line. Riley over there, along with Cameron, but Winslow was alone. Now, defensively, Merlin, Cincinnati is going to try to check Winslow as much as they can.>>They’re gonna have someone with him all day. Let’s watch the football. Looked like it got away from Fouts a little bit here. The ball just took off on him. Already, Fouts showing the effects of the cold, as that ball got out of his hand. And that’s one of the things you lose. You lose the feeling in your hands, and that football gets hard and slick.>>Second down and 10. Fouts breaking all of his own NFL records that he set last year. Another pass. This to Chandler. And he gains only a couple. Louis Breeden and Bobby Kemp were on top of Chandler as soon as he caught the ball.>>In that big game early in the year, when these Cincinnati Bengals embarrassed the Chargers, one of the things they did early, defensively, was to really shake up the receivers when they caught the football with that same kind of hits.>>You saw the statistic on Chandler — 52 catches. Counting his receptions at New Orleans earlier this year, he finished with 69. Third down, 8, at the 37, against a five-man-defensive-back set. Gonna be intercepted. Oh! It was not. That ball just died out there. It was a sure interception about halfway there, and then the ball just floated and allowed the offensive player, Joiner, to come in and break it up.>>Dick, it’s apparent that the Chargers still feel that they can throw the football, although Fouts has had trouble here early. He had the one pass get away from him. And this one appeared to get away, too. Watch the ball just die. And it almost came down right in the hands of Charlie Joiner. He almost picked it up.>>Now, remember, San Diego was throwing into the wind. The Bengals will get the ball with the wind at their back. George Roberts. With Mike Fuller at the other end. Short kick. And it goes out of bounds around the 35-yard line. The Bengals have the ball, for the first time, at the 36-yard line.>>On that last play, Dan Fouts was bumped just as he threw that football, if you’re wondering why it died the way it did. Watch him just as he gets the ball off.>>Ken Anderson, the NFL’s passing champion this year, All-Pro performer, and named MVP in the league. His first attempt. And he has a man, Alexander, at the 41-yard line. 5-yard gain for Charles Alexander. “Alexander the Great” they called him after last week’s fine performance. Anderson at quarterback for Cincinnati. Here’s the rest of their offensive set. Charles Alexander had his best day of the season last year. Pete Johnson — he’s the man they like to go to when they need the yards. Their great rookie, Collinsworth. The veteran Curtis on the outside. Dan Ross, who set a new Cincinnati record — 71 catches — at tight end. Second down, 4. Pete Johnson close to the 45. Short of the first down. While Cincinnati is attacking a defense, San Diego, that was not good at all against the pass. They were fairly respectable against the run. Anthony Muñoz. Dave Lapham. The center, an underrated Blair Bush, has done a great job all year. Max Montoya. And Mike Wilson. The offensive front five.>>Quite a few of those offensive linemen out there with bare arms today. They don’t want to give those defenders anything to grab on as they’re trying to rush the passer.>>Two tight ends and David Verser the wide receiver. He’s the flanker to the near side on third and more than a yard. And it’s gonna be close. Depends on how much he was able to — Yes! First down, Cincinnati. The Chargers, defensively, have Leroy Jones, 6’8″, defensive end. Louie Kelcher, considered one of the top tackles in the game. Gary Johnson — he made the Pro Bowl. And John Woodcock on the right side for Fred Dean. Linebackers. Linden King their best linebacker. Bob Horn in the middle. And Woody Lowe — good against the pass — on the far right side, or weak side. First down for Ken Anderson. He dumps it out in the flat. Oh, you could see, again, that pass just died as he tried to find Pete Johnson. Defensive backs for the Chargers. Here are their four deep men. Willie Buchanon, the veteran from San Diego State, at the left corner. Mike Williams on the other side. Pete Shaw, a hitter, at strong safety. and Glen Edwards, the veteran, called back out of retirement earlier this year by San Diego.>>It would appear, Dick, that both these quarterbacks have decided to throw shorter passes today. I think that’s a good choice. No one has really tried to get deep yet.>>First quarter. We’ve played about 4 minutes. Second down and 10. The draw to Alexander. Louie Kelcher stops him at midfield. 74, Kelcher, from SMU, the same school that produced Forrest Gregg.>>One of the important responsibilities for Kelcher on that defensive line is to read and react to the draw. He’s lost a little of that quickness in the pass rush, but he certainly read that play well, put himself into position. Had he not been there, Alexander would have made a little bigger gain out of it.>>They have the Hot Seats that have been transported to Cincinnati, both teams, the heated benches, which will help somewhat. At the 50-yard line, it’s third down and 6. Steve Kreider, 86, is in for Alexander. Three wide receivers. Ken Anderson in a pass situation. Kelcher appeared to be offside. Flags down. Caught by Ross! He’s all the way to the 33-yard line! Dan Ross, from Northeastern, in Boston. He caught 71, a new Cincinnati record. And you can’t throw that ball any better.>>He certainly figures to be a big part of the game here for the Cincinnati Bengals. They’ll try to take away the wide receivers and single up on him with a linebacker. Woody Lowe is no match for Dan Ross. There’s the quick shot of Kelcher getting off early. A little anxious. Of course, they’ll refuse that penalty. They’ll take the big gain on the pass. The Bengals moving the football here early. They’re doing surprisingly well in this bitter cold.>>Dan Ross, who wanted not to be a football player but a hockey star when he was a youngster. His dad, in Massachusetts, used to flood the backyard and create a skating pond for him. He wanted to be a defenseman. Decided he’d stay with football, and regarded one of the top products out of the Northeast in the last few years.>>The telephones have gone out on the far side. The Cincinnati coaches have just had to take off their headsets now. That’s a rule in the NFL. If the telephone communications between the coaches upstairs and the coaches on the sideline go out on either sideline, both coaches, both coaching staffs have to do without. Now you’ll see some scrambling. You’ll have some questions down there that will go unanswered.>>All right, this is an official time-out. First down, Cincinnati. Forrest Gregg’s Bengals are in San Diego territory, at the 33-yard line. And they’re working with the wind at the Bengals’ back.>>They’ll be looking up for some signals from the coaching box, but the offensive coordinator for the Bengals, Lindy Infante, is on the sideline. He’ll be signaling in the plays from there. He actually doesn’t signal them in himself. He calls them aloud, and a couple of the players and coaches signal them in to the quarterback, Ken Anderson.>>Johnson. Drives to the 23-yard line. He may have a first down. Linden King finally dragged the big guy down.>>Both offenses going to the big backs early. Muncie with a couple of good gains. But Johnson gets a huge hole on the left side behind Muñoz over there. Breaks it inside, gets a big gain.>>11 yards on the play, Merlin, for Willie James Hammock. That’s his real name when he was a youngster. Pete Johnson weighed 180 pounds when he was in the seventh grade, in Brooklyn, and used a false name. Pete Johnson played seven years of high-school ball. Inside the 20, before Louie Kelcher can drag down — That was Alexander that time. 18-yard line, mark it. A gain of about 4. It’s second down and 6.>>When you’re playing against him, you don’t ask what his name was. You just say, “Who was that big guy?” [ Laughs ] He weighs about 260 pounds. Last year, got as heavy as 267. But he is one hard back to bring down.>>Built for this kind of weather and the tradition of Paul Brown’s teams. In Cleveland, he always liked that big fullback. Marion Motley one of the best. And is happy with these set of backs. Alexander is no midget. He’s 221. This is Johnson. Big hole. And he’s close to the first down. Stopped at the 13-yard line. Now both coaching phones are back, so they’re now in telecommunication with the press box. Gary Johnson finally making the tackle. They’re checking the sidelines. It appears to be short by about a half-yard.>>One of the questions I asked Forrest Gregg yesterday was, “What are you gonna look for early in the game out there?” He said, “I want to find out, very quickly, which players want to play and which players don’t.” He said, “If a guy doesn’t want to play, he’ll come out of the game. And we got to find out, on the other side, which of their players don’t want to play, because we’ll go after them.”>>Third down, Cincinnati. They’ve made good on their first two third-down conversions on this drive. Play-action. Anderson’s going for it all. And misses Alexander. He wanted to go in the end zone. And look who was wide open. David Verser was all alone in the end zone.>>An obvious running situation. Anderson really crossed them up. They were able to get a piece of the receiver as he got out of there. Alexander getting out clean in spite of that. But the pass simply overthrown. And, again, the difficulty of throwing the ball deep today. So hard to get a good grip on that football, to control it with any finesse when it’s so bitterly cold.>>Little Jim Breech — 5’6″, a size-5 shoe — is trying to nail a 3-pointer from 31 yards away. And Cincinnati has the lead! Riverfront Stadium. These fans, who have waited 14 years for this, their first championship game. And the Bengals lead, 3-0. Brooks at the 15, the 20. Fumble! There it is! And the Bengals recover! Number 84, Don Bass, fell on the football. Hold on now. May– Yes, it is Cincinnati’s ball. Bass recovers. Well, you know those are going to happen. That won’t be the first fumble we see today.>>Very difficult, again, to hang on to that football when it’s so cold. You just lose the feeling of it. The ball is stripped away beautifully. Rick Razzano, number 51, the man down to knock it away. And they are right on top of it. Let’s see if they can take advantage of it, Dick.>>The ball is at the 12-yard line. Razzano’s tackle, Bass recovered. Anderson gives it to Alexander. And he’s to the 9, maybe the 8. Woody Lowe led the defensive charge for San Diego. So, a big break for the Bengals. They won the toss and elected to take the wind in this first quarter. So San Diego took the ball. Bass, for the moment, the star for Cincinnati. Give to Alexander — 4 yards on that first-down carry. And it’s second down and 6 for the first down, 9 yards for a touchdown. They go with two tight ends, Ross and M.L. Harris, with Alexander out. Collinsworth, the rookie, bottom of your screen. Curtis on the far side. Anderson to throw. Touchdown, M.L. Harris! M.L. Harris, who came to Cincinnati with Forrest Gregg from the Toronto Argonauts. He may just like this kind of weather. Scored two touchdowns during the year, had just 13 catches. Michael Lee Harris makes it 9-0.>>A crisp pass and a fine catch. Anderson able to spot the open receiver. One of the advantages he’ll have today — he throws more to the receiver. Fouts tends to throw to the spot. That’s difficult in this kind of weather.>>Breech’s try for a point is good. The Bengals get an easy one. After Brooks’ fumble on the kickoff, a 4-yard run by Alexander, and an 8-yard touchdown pass. Breech kicks it off for the third time in the first 8 minutes. And Brooks will try again. Got an opening! 30! 40. And finally down at the 43-yard line. Oh, you have to admire the rookie from Auburn. He comes right back and gives San Diego good field position. 35 yards on the return. Fuller made the tackle.>>Let’s go back and look, quickly, at that scoring pass to M.L. Harris. Get a chance to see him as he gets into the pattern here. Just starts across, gets a good bump in there from Preston, and then cuts back into the corner of the end zone. The ball quickly thrown right on the break. There’s no chance for number 27, Glen Edwards, to get over there and defend.>>Near the 45. That’s Charlie Joiner in motion. Muncie tries the middle. And gets out to about the 47-yard line. Muncie had a banner year for the Chargers. 1,144 yards, 19 rushing touchdowns. His average right there on his back — 4.6. It’s interesting the two Cincinnati backs — Johnson, 3.9 average, and Alexander, only a 3-yard average, where Muncie is a 4.6, and Brooks a 4.8 average.>>We’ll have to look at the averages today. I think they might be a little different on the day.>>Trailing, 10-0, midway through the first quarter. Muncie trying to get outside. Can’t do it. Cameron finished him off, but it was Louis Breeden who made the play from his cornerback spot. Breeden from North Carolina Central.>>Dick, Mike Adamle made the point, early in the pregame show, that, today, it’s not so much a matter of what you can do. It’s what you want to do, a matter of will. Both these teams are going to have to press their pain thresholds today to see which one wants to stay in there the longest. It looks, right now, that the Bengals certainly have the most enthusiasm, the most intensity in the early going. Fouts better get his gang together.>>On third and 9, over the middle. Nice catch by Chandler. And he gets a block downfield at the 40. And out of bounds at the 34-, 33-yard line. Ray Griffin, number 44, in the nickel defense, ran him out of bounds. Nice throw. Fouts to Chandler. First San Diego completion.>>A chance to watch the drops there. A 21-yard completion to Chandler. But let’s see if we can’t see how he gets open there. 53, Bo Harris, the man in the middle. Kellen Winslow dropping back. But they threw underneath. They’re dropping the linebackers on the zone. Chandler getting across, getting a block from number 87, Dwight Scales, and picking it up nicely. San Diego moving the ball.>>So much concentration on Winslow, they used Winslow as the decoy and threw underneath him. And now a flag, as Fouts, on a problem with the snap — False start, San Diego. 5 yards.>>One of the concerns that Don Coryell had was for the noise level in this stadium. Talking yesterday at the press conference, he said, “I hope we don’t have the noise problems that we had in Miami, that they had here in the stadium with Buffalo last week.” A real disadvantage for a visiting team. The crowd will quiet down, very often, for their own team. Noise level high. It’s hard to hear the signals over the crowd.>>San Diego fourth this year in most penalty yards. Buffalo leading the way. So, it’s first and 15, San Diego, at the 38 of Cincinnati. 10-0, the Bengals lead it, first quarter. Muncie. He loves to run left. And he’s down to the 32-yard line. A gain of about 6. Brings up second down and 9.>>I don’t blame him for wanting to go out there. He ran into the sunshine. A little bit warmer out there. The one advantage that the Chargers will have in the early part of this game — they are sitting in the sunshine. It’s got to be a bit warmer. It’s shaded on this side of the field, the near side, where the Bengals are. Got to be a few degrees colder.>>There’s the sun on the far side. Second down and 9. Muncie and Brooks in the “I.” And that’s Winslow in motion. Brooks. Ooh, did he take a lick, but hangs on to the football and is close to a first down at the 22-yard line.>>James Brooks — what an outstanding addition to this Charger offense. That young man is a lot tougher than his size would dictate. And I’m sure he is very determined to make up for that fumble that cost his team a touchdown. He makes a good cutback. You can see him taking advantage of the footing. Good footing even in that part of the field. Gets down for the first down.>>The ex-Auburn star, who replaced Bruce Harper, who has had a lock on that all-purpose-yard record, but this year, it goes to Brooks. First down. So, they were able to overcome the 5-yard penalty on first down. And here’s Brooks again. Up the middle to the 20-yard line. A quick shot for about 3.>>You can see that part of the area down here is shaded, part of it is in sunlight. See that strip of sunlight going across the lower part of your picture? The receivers dropping into that area are gonna have a problem looking into that sun.>>We also might point out, as we pan now to the right, the end zone down here in the far right is the frozen end. That’s where they like to — Cincinnati receivers like to get their man turned around. We saw a touchdown last week when a Buffalo defender fell, and Collinsworth scored.>>Oh!>>Almost intercepted by 55, Jim LeClair! The veteran from North Dakota had that ball bouncing right in his lap.>>Fouts trying to dump that ball off. Both these quarterbacks like to throw that quick dump-off pass. Chance to see it in action. Dan Fouts making his mind up, very quickly, to just throw that ball out to Muncie, who then will become a pure runner with it. That’s like a long hand-off. But Muncie unable to handle the football. Almost got it taken away from him by LeClair.>>Third down and 7 at the Cincinnati 20-yard line. Remember, the Chargers going into the wind. Muncie. Doesn’t get much. You see those Bengals stripes, and it’s like trying to fight your way through a jungle. There were three or four orange-and-black-uniformed Bengals on top of Muncie, and he gains but a yard. In comes Rolf Benirschke to try a field goal that will be beyond 35 yards. They will mark it at about the 27-yard line. Benirschke’s numbers on the year and career. What a solid kicker he has been inside the 40.>>Although we have winds swirling, looking at the flags at the top of the goalpost, very little wind right at this moment in that area. But the banner is blowing hard behind the goalpost. Hard tell, for a kicker, which way to try and kick the ball. Just drive it right down the center and hope you’re right.>>If nothing else, those banners have to make him think. He can see them wiggling and wavering in the breeze. And he must wonder what it will do to his kick. Well, Cincinnati took the wind in this first quarter. Let’s see if it pays off on this 37-yard attempt. Ed Luther to hold.>>It’s got to be difficult to hold that football and get it down perfectly.>>No good! Dick Enberg, Merlin Olsen. Cincinnati, Ohio. The coldest day on this date in the history of this city. Perhaps the coldest conditions an NFL game has ever been played — minus-59 wind chill. Pete Johnson draws a crowd. The differential between last week, in Miami, when San Diego played in the heat and humidity, 84 degrees, and today is a 143-degree turnaround.>>Wearing gloves and thermals, you can overcome some of that. But a good deal of the playing ability of these players is just the ability to withstand this terrible cold. In a way, Dick, it’s easier for the players who are on the field, who are moving around, than for those who have to sit on the sideline and wait.>>And they’re not going to get any warmer. That’s why the early 10-0 lead had to be a true advantage for Cincinnati. Anderson, who is very mobile and led the NFL in rushing, quarterbacks. Gets about 5, maybe more to the 27-yard line. Dan Ross throwing a block out there. Gain of maybe 6 to bring up third down and 3. 318 yards for the veteran from Batavia, Illinois. They’re going to have Ken Anderson Day tomorrow in that city. That city also produced another great athlete, Dan Issel, the All-American at Kentucky and the great pro. And it’s been Issel’s town until this year. And tomorrow, it will be Ken Anderson Day.>>You saw, there, one of the reasons that he is so highly prized as a quarterback. It’s that running ability. He’s averaged 6 1/2 yards a carry during the season.>>Steve Kreider, third-year man from Lehigh, an extra receiver. And that was Kreider that he was trying to hit, but the pass was way off the mark. It appears, Merlin, that the passes toward the sidelines are doing tricks, that the ones that have been completed have been those where the quarterback’s thrown straight ahead.>>Well, I think you’re gonna see the ball doing tricks all day, Dick. You’re going to see some good passes, but you’re going to see a lot of them, like that one, that go off target. Again, that ball is difficult to grip. The hands are cold. It’s hard to get a feeling on that ball. And the winds here are swirling. Those three factors make it difficult to put it in the air anytime, but especially so on a day like today.>>McInally to kick the rock. Brooks at the 27 of San Diego. Boy, that ball –>>That just doesn’t go anywhere, does it?>>Chandler, the short man, at the 39. 45 and out of bounds into the Cincinnati bench. Ball at the 45. San Diego trails Cincinnati, 10-0. Muncie up the middle. And he fumbles! And I believe San Diego — one of the trailing linemen fell on it at the 50-yard line.>>And that’s that straight-up running style that we talked about earlier that’s going to get Muncie in trouble, because it’s very difficult to clamp on that football. They just snipped it right out of his hands. Kellen Winslow in there ahead of him as a blocker. But the defenders going for that football, able to strip it away. San Diego lucky to have it. Winslow, right at the top of your screen, one of the blockers, trying to seal people out. Watch Muncie now. Watch him try to cover that football. Glenn Cameron, number 50, one of the men in there. But they just pull it right out of his hands.>>Veteran guard Ed White appeared to be the man who fell on the ball. Second down and 6. A 4-yard gain. Muncie again. Into Cincinnati territory, but short of the first down at the 47. Reggie Williams, from Dartmouth, made the tackle, number 57. 4 yards on the play. Clock running down to 50 seconds left in the quarter.>>In last week’s big victory over the Buffalo Bills, this Bengal team did not turn the ball over at all. Chuck Knox said he thought that was one of the big reasons for the victory. In the game today, we’ve already had a costly turnover. San Diego had 39 turnovers on the year. The Bengals only had 24, the lowest number in the entire NFL.>>Third down and 3 for the first down. And Muncie driving hard. He’ll be close. Bengals — good penetration.>>It appears that they’re gonna give him the first down. I don’t think they’re gonna give it to him. I think he earned it.>>Boy, that picture is deceptive — the sunshine, the blue sky, the color of the crowd. Yes, it could well be 40, 50 degrees, but believe me — it is not. It’s a below-zero temperature, and the chill factor with a wind minus-59. Can you perspire in weather this cold?>>Dick, as cold as it is, these players work so hard on the field when they’re going that they will actually perspire. And it becomes a big problem, because your gear gets wet, and then if you stop, you really get cold in a hurry.>>We open the second quarter. And, statistically, the first quarter was even. On the scoreboard, Cincinnati leads, 10-0.>>7 of those points directly out of that costly fumble by James Brooks on the kickoff.>>From the 45 of Cincinnati, San Diego begins the quarter with the wind advantage. That’s Winslow. His first catch. And he’s to the 38-yard line. Kellen Winslow, the leading receiver in the NFL this year, with 88 catches, just one less than the year before. What an athlete and what a performance last week in Miami.>>Everyone is gonna have to make adjustments today. Winslow, you’ll notice, as he’ll make his turn out there, will just kind of plant, get those feet on the ground, and take short steps to keep his feet. Fouts definitely throwing the ball a little less crisply than he would on an ordinary day to make sure that Winslow has a chance to handle it. But that’s a good play. We’ll probably see that one again shortly.>>7 yards before Louis Breeden make the tackle. On second and 3, it’s John Cappelletti in the game. And he has a first down at the 33-yard line. Of course, played his college football — and had a Heisman senior year — at Penn State.>>One of the reasons that we’ll see some of Cappelletti today is — playing in the cold, as he did at Penn State, he knows how to handle that football. He’s also a very fine blocker, and we’ll see him leading Muncie on a number of plays.>>I asked him, yesterday — I said, “Penn State — this is your kind of weather.” He said, “I’ve been in California so long, that seems like — no pun intended — an ice age away.” He said, “I’m as cold as anyone.”>>The Chargers now have the wind at their back, Dick. Let’s see if they can take advantage of it.>>Trailing, 10-0, early in the second quarter. Fouts in trouble. But gets it away. And Winslow has blockers. 30. 25, 20. 15, 10, 5! Touchdown! Kellen Winslow, a 33-yard pass play. And was that set up beautifully. They caught the Bengals in a blitz from the very side they were throwing the screen.>>You like to be lucky, as well as good. Fouts was lucky. The man that would normally be responsible for getting out on that screen was, indeed, on the blitz. Watch him coming right there. That’s Eddie Edwards driving hard. Firing it out to the outside to number 80, Winslow. And Winslow just using his athletic ability to turn it loose down the field. They spread the defensive backs with the receivers, and Winslow able to run it on in for the touchdown.>>So, all the points have come with the wind. And here’s the try after by Benirschke. Oh, he just does sail one through. Less than 3 minutes for the Chargers to score on that 55-yard drive. Benirschke. Verser at the 5, the 10. Has some running room! He’s got one man to beat, Benirschke! And Dwight Scales came over to make the tackle at the 45. Benirschke slowed him up enough that Scales was able to make the tackle. But a nice return by the top draft pick of the Bengals this year, David Verser, from Kansas.>>Verser comes right back to shift the momentum of this game, much as he did last week. Looked like the Buffalo Bills were getting going, and Verser made a big runback last week. Does the same thing here. Beautiful job of cutting away from the possible tacklers. Benirschke slowing him, as you said, Dick. And that’s a shoestring tackle if ever there was one.>>From the 45, the Bengals leading, 10-7, early in the second quarter. Fake to Johnson. Anderson. Complete to Dan Ross. And the tight end has 10, maybe 11 yards. Let’s go down to Mike Adamle on the field.>>Dick, one of the things the Chargers have been doing to keep their hands warm and combat the cold — they have these hot compresses. A chemical reaction takes place, and their hands warm right up. Fouts is using it, and so is his wide receivers. I think that’s one of the reasons why they’ve been successful throwing the ball.>>Mike, were you at Cleveland last year for the Ice Bowl?>>Yes, I was.>>How do you compare the two?>>Dick, I think it’s colder down here than it was in Cleveland, if you can believe that.>>Thank you for your report. Stay warm.>>There’s Kellen Winslow on the sideline. I’m sure he’s happy to get over there, get a coat on, and get a little bit warm.>>Second down and inches for Cincinnati. So Anderson with a down to play with. Goes to Alexander. 35, 30. First down at the 30-yard line. Willie Buchanon finally made the tackle. We’d asked the question — can these quarterbacks throw the ball on a day like today? They’ve given us the answer.>>And he’s throwing into the wind.>>Anderson doing a good job here. Little shaky, that ball is, but it certainly is on target. And Alexander knew what to do with it. Pete Shaw, number 44, the man that dropped him out of bounds. They’re moving.>>Alexander, who had a couple of rushing touchdowns last week in the Buffalo win. First down at the 30 after that 15-yard gain. And open again. This is Collinsworth. And he has another first down, at the 19! That face tells part of the story. This kid is so happy to be here.>>And he’s happy to be on the end of this reception, too. Got himself in good position. Working on number 51, Woody Lowe, and in front of the right cornerback, Mike Williams. Able to find the room. And a zipper from Anderson. Good play.>>Collinsworth, who, as a prank, sent Wes Chandler, of the Chargers, a Popsicle in his room last night — special delivery. First down inside the 20. A reverse. Collinsworth. And read pretty well by the Chargers. They stop him at the 16-yard line.>>Leroy Jones, number 68, the man who was upfield to turn it back inside, got a piece of Collinsworth. But Bengals pulling out all the stops here, Dick. Watch Collinsworth now. He’ll come back from his receiving position and he’ll take the football after the fake right there. Now watch Leroy Jones, number 68, come from the outside. Gets a piece of him there. The pursuit, then, from the inside. Big Louis Kelcher there, along with Gary Johnson, to finally put him away.>>A gain of about 3. Second and 7 from the 16-yard line. Anderson, who is 6 for 9. Make it — Oh! Johnson unable to hang on. A reliable receiver, the big guy out of the backfield. Johnson, who caught 46 passes this year.>>That’s one of the favorite plays of the Bengals. We said, earlier, that Dan Fouts uses that kind of play as a long hand-off. I think maybe the Bengals have used it even more. And, normally, Johnson just catches that one as a matter of course. But the cold weather made it difficult there. And I think maybe saw a few bodies flying at him, too.>>Third down. Steve Kreider, number 86, is into the lineup for Cincinnati, with Alexander out, as Anderson will use the three wide receivers. Curtis, Kreider, and Collinsworth are all to the right. A triple-right formation on third down, a long 7. Plenty of time. Caught at the 1-yard line! Isaac Curtis. So, he’s using all his receivers.>>The last 3 or 4 games of the season, the Bengals used 48 different formations. They throw everything in the world at you. They came with the three wide receivers on the same side. They’re attacking a pass defense that was last in the NFL. And they show you how to do it right here, as they get across in front of Mike Williams right there with a big, big reception. Let’s see if they can get it into the end zone.>>First and goal at the 1-yard line. They’re already chanting, “Pete, Pete.” And he gets it. And he has a touchdown! He goes steady with that end zone. Johnson, all through his years at Ohio State and now in the National Football League, you can usually find him in double figures in that touchdown column every season.>>Looking from the end zone, you’ll see him just use that pile-driving size and strength to push his way into the end zone.>>Breech’s try for a point. Kreider to hold. And it’s in there. The Bengals leading, 17-7. Here’s Breech’s kick. Taken by Pete Shaw, one of the up backs. And he doesn’t get to the 30-yard line. The tackle made by number 21, Oliver Davis, of Cincinnati. Let’s go back to the touchdown. Anthony Muñoz, the big left tackle, led the way for the Bengals.>>Watch Muñoz, number 78, working on John Woodcock, number 90. They go right in behind the big All-American and All-Pro. He’s just driving, laying on top of Woodcock, just burying him underneath. Woodcock actually keeping his ground, but unable to overcome the momentum of Muñoz. Pete Johnson went right over the top of him.>>All-American at S.C., All-NFL rookie last year, All-NFL this year, in his second season. Here’s Muncie. Crossing the 30 and dragged down at the 33. Bo Harris, whose wife presented him with a couple of dozen roses in the locker room yesterday — Kind of an obvious thing to go through the locker room, and here are two dozen roses, in number 53, Bo Harris’, locker. And he says, “The wife just wants me to know that she cares.”>>Hard to realize, sometimes, that these football players are just real people.>>That’s right. And what a nice touch by the young lady.>>Absolutely.>>Second down and 6 at the 33. Muncie again. Too many Bengals. And Bobby Kemp, 26, the rookie from Cal State, Fullerton, finished him off.>>Mike, you’re down on the field. Tell us — can you feel any tempo down there? Who has the edge down there?>>Well, Cincinnati, Merlin, definitely has the edge. I thought that San Diego, perhaps, would have the advantage. They’re on the sunny side of the field, and it is significantly warmer over there. If someone would have told me before the game these two teams would have 24 points at this point of the game, I would have told them they were crazy.>>That just gives you an idea, Mike, what it might have been like had we had decent weather. In fact, both teams agreed that the losing club might have scored 30 points in good weather. Third down and 6. Complete to Joiner. And the veteran from Grambling has a first down at the Charger 45-yard line. Joiner — And what a season for the 33-year-old. He had 70 catches. He came to San Diego from Cincinnati in a trade for Coy Bacon.>>He’s certainly been valuable and so dependable. And second-oldest active receiver in the league. He still keeps right on chugging along. Put that one away, picked up the first down. Good pass by Fouts.>>On third down, bread-and-butter play. Joiner, who had that big catch to set up the winning field goal in overtime at Miami last week. Fouts out of the backfield. Winslow. Oh, as soon as he caught the ball, Jim LeClair and Cameron were right on his back. 6 yards on the play.>>You can see the wind whipping the banners around this stadium. Not quite as windy out in the middle of the field, but the wind kind of swirls in this stadium. You could be standing out there, it would be calm, and then, suddenly, you feel the surge of wind. That’s very difficult to deal with when you’ve got your hands on that football or you’re trying to get it from one person to another.>>We can measure it, mathematically, too, and we’ll give you that right after this play. Second and 4 from the Cincinnati 49. Draw play to Muncie. He’s got a little running room and a first down at the 41. The temperature is around 8 degrees. The chill factor is almost minus-60. That gives you an idea of what the wind does to the effect.>>Wind and humidity. Being right next to the river the way we are, we do pick up some of that, as well. But I am really impressed, Dick Enberg, with the way these two teams are handling the cold weather. They are here to play football. It’s apparent that they’re gonna do it in spite of the cold.>>And, quite surprisingly, as Mike indicated, we’re going to have a fairly high-scoring game. There are the game conditions.>>”Bitter cold.” Well, they didn’t miss that one.>>”Brutally cold” is what the man said on TV last night. Here’s Brooks on first down. To the 37-yard line, before Reggie Williams, three-time All-Ivy League linebacker at Dartmouth, makes the tackle. And Jim LeClair has to be restrained.>>You don’t want to lose your cool in a game like this.>>Wait a minute.>>They’ll toss you out in a hurry.>>No pun intended, I hope. [ Both laugh ]>>Brooks, by the way, averaged 4.8 yards per carry every time he touched the football during the season. We talked about his importance to this team as a special-teams player, but he also can carry the football. Great quickness.>>Less than 6 minutes left in the second quarter. Cincinnati leading, 17-7. Second down and 6 for Fouts. Dumps it out to Brooks. Behind a block. Good cut, but not a first down. He’s stopped at the 33-yard line. Don Macek, the center, 62, was the man out in that — Pulling out away from center and leading the block. Bo Harris and Bobby Kemp made the tackle.>>One of the ways you try and combat the rush is to use little screen plays, like this. You let everybody penetrate and slip in behind them. Good play and good moves by Brooks, but he finally ran into the bulk of the Cincinnati defense, and they stopped him. Cincinnati had six sacks in that earlier game. You obviously want to try and avoid that. Fouts has been able to avoid the sacks so far in this one.>>It’s a short 3. Third and about 2 1/2. Fouts going for it all to Joiner. Intercepted by Breeden at the 5-yard line! Fouts obviously thought that he could catch the Bengals looking for a run on third and 3. But Breeden, who was the nemesis when he intercepted a Fouts pass, went 102 yards to tie an NFL record, a touchdown, in the regular-season game, was right there. We’ll get to this formation, the last play, in just a moment. Right now, Cincinnati with the ball at the 6-yard line. They lead, 17-7. The interception by Breeden the second turnover. So it’s 2-0, the Bengals leading, in that department. Cross buck to Johnson. And the big fullback is out to the 13-yard line. Let’s go back to the play. Winslow was arguing, vehemently, after that last play. Let’s see what happened. Winslow over the middle. That’s Glenn Cameron. Well, a little extra work there by Cameron. Winslow said that he should have had a penalty.>>Well, here’s the man he wanted to go to, number 18, Charlie Joiner. Joiner getting deep on this play. But look at Louis Breeden get great position on him. Slipped right in in front of him and take the football away from him.>>So, a couple of turnovers. A fumble led to a key touchdown — only a 12-yard drive — in the first quarter for Cincinnati. Second down, 3. Alexander. Met sharply. And a good defensive surge by the Chargers. It was Gary Johnson and Louie Kelcher, the two tackles, pinching in on the running back from LSU.>>Down at ground level, you can feel what it feels like to lineup in that backfield. A little misdirection. They started to the right. Alexander coming back to the left. But no one moved out of the way. And they swarm over the top of him. And big 99, Wilbur Young, getting a piece of him there. These Chargers do a better job of playing against the run, by far, than they do against the pass. The Bengals finding that out today.>>Third down and 3 with 3:40 left in the first half. Anderson. Open. Oh, and a fine play by Woody Lowe! Dan Ross was open, and Lowe just diving out and batting the ball away. An excellent play by the former star at Alabama.>>Anytime you get a fine receiver like Dan Ross one-on-one, you want to go to him. And there he is one-on-one on a linebacker. That’s the setup they wanted. But Woody Lowe just said, “No, sir. You’re not gonna take that football.” Fine play by the linebacker, Lowe.>>Well, the Chargers, with 3:35 left in the half, will get another chance, before halftime, to cut into that Bengal lead of 17-7. McInally will kick from around his 3-yard line.>>Chargers have 2, 4 — Now they move one up — 4 men back and just a few up.>>Short kick to Chandler. And he lets it bounce. And takes a kind Cincinnati roll to the 45-yard line. WLW, an NBC affiliate, channel 5 here in Cincinnati. We want to thank them for their hospitality. San Diego with the ball at the Bengal 45-yard line, trailing, 17-7. Fouts to Winslow. Well, there’s that timing pass. And never better illustrated — You talked about that so many times in the past, Merlin, how Fouts throws to a spot. The ball was there as soon as Winslow, who turned almost too soon. McInally — You wonder why it’s tough to kick the ball in this weather? We’ll let the punter himself tell us.>>Cold weather — it’s difficult to compress the ball. And, you know, you just hope that you get real good contact and you can follow through. You’re just not gonna kick the ball as far when it’s cold.>>Said it’s just like kicking a rock.>>Second and 10 from the 45. Fouts, a little fake flanker screen. And then he goes to his tight end, Sievers. To the 32-yard line. That’s a first down. Eric Sievers, from Maryland, a rookie picked in the fourth round. That was a play that we have not seen before.>>We’re going to see a lot of plays today we haven’t seen. Eric Sievers, the number-two tight end. And they were playing two tight ends in there today. The Cincinnati coaches very impressed with that young man. And all the concentration on Kellen Winslow allowed Sievers to get open on that play. It was a little fake to the outside, a little screen fake. But Sievers finding the open room in the defense and then just protecting that football with both arms to pick up the first down.>>Clock is running. 2:38, 2:37 left in the half. Up the middle goes Muncie. And the big back from the University of California gets to the 26-yard line before Bryan Hicks can make the tackle. And that kind of hit just makes you wince. You had to play in this kind of weather. Are you so numb that it doesn’t hurt or can you express what it feels like?>>Believe me — it hurts down there. The body gets cold, and your body is just not flexible in the cold. And every one of those hits goes right to the core of the body with great pain.>>In case you’ve just joined us, we’re at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. 2 minutes left in the first half. The Bengals lead it, 17-7, over San Diego. Two weeks hence, indoors at the Silverdome in the Super Bowl.>>Little conference going on on the far sideline with Dan Fouts and the coaches. Oh, you can see the effect of that cold, especially in this shaded area of the field, here. Fouts over there. You can see the warmer in his hand. See the chemical warmer that he’s using to keep his hands there? Only one penalty against the Chargers so far in this ballgame. And, certainly, they’re in good position here with the winds at their back. Like to take advantage of it and get it into the end zone.>>Ball at the 26-yard line. It’s second down and 4. It was in this situation last week, late in the game, that Buffalo, after a time-out, did not engineer the play in the necessary 30 seconds and perhaps lost the chance at a tying touchdown. And the Chargers — a little confusion, but they’re apparently set to go and in time. Muncie. Running hard and close to a first down at the 22. It would be a first down.>>The Cincinnati Bengals have great respect for the center of that San Diego line, a very big line. Two great guards. They say the best tandem of guards in the NFL. Watch them right here. Ed White, 67, out quickly to work on the linebacker, Cappelletti through to block, and big Chuck Muncie just lowered his shoulder, went through the opening to pick up the first down. That’s the kind of play that the Bengals don’t want to see much of today.>>Don Coryell, who was a ski patrol in the Army in World War II. First down at the 22. Clock running. 1:20 left in the half. Fouts. Could be intercepted! And it is! That’s Bobby Kemp, who takes it out to the 18-yard line! Fouts threw right into two Bengal defenders. And Winslow is down in the end zone.>>Winslow tried to get up to make that tackle and may have gotten himself injured on the play. Fouts appeared to gamble on Winslow’s ability to take that football away from the defender. He could see that Winslow was covered. He threw the football in there, taking a chance that Winslow could go up and outfight the defender. Watch Winslow now. Kemp, number 26, has been man-to-man with him almost all day. And watch what happens when that ball is thrown. It’s simply underthrown. Winslow comes up, gets a hit right there, got his arm stretched out a little bit, and stayed on the turf. He’s still on the turf. Kemp makes the most of the interception. Finally tackled inside the 20. But they took the ball away from the Chargers when the Chargers were moving it.>>And it seems that Fouts not only threw into good coverage by Kemp, but Bryan Hicks had Winslow covered on the other side. The third turnover by San Diego. Second interception of Fouts.>>Two interceptions of Fouts, and a fumble by Brooks.>>Both deep in Cincinnati territory. Breeden’s interception was at the 6-yard line, and this one in the end zone.>>It would appear that he is not getting a full throwing motion on that ball, and that ball dropping short. Again, maybe the effects of the cold on the quarterback. He’s simply not able to get that clean throwing motion.>>It figures, with a 10-point lead, that Anderson will play it safe, but that hasn’t been his style through the normal weather of this season. Give to Alexander. Alexander wrapped up by “Big Hands” Johnson, number 79. Clock running. Less than a minute left in the first half. So, although Cincinnati leads, 17-7, it’s taken two interceptions to stop San Diego drives in this second quarter.>>We saw the battle over on the left-hand side between Anthony Muñoz and number 90, John Woodcock. Watch Woodcock stuff it in there. And then Gary Johnson, right at the bottom of your screen, 79 — Now, that’s dangerous, Pete Johnson standing up that way. That ball is exposed. You don’t want to give them a chance at that football in your own territory.>>29 seconds. Could be the last play of the first half. Clock running.>>Ooh!>>Johnson just protecting that football. And Louie Kelcher there to put the hit on him.>>Big Louis stacked him up at the line.>>That will be the end. 10, 9… Neither team trying to wait around. They’re gonna head for the locker room. Three turnovers by Cincinnati the difference in this first half. One led to an easy touchdown. And the crowd cold but loving it.>>Chargers had the choice in this half, the option of taking the wind. They did what they have to do. They took the football. They’ve got to get the ball and get it into the end zone to get back into this game.>>San Diego moved the ball well enough, especially in the second quarter. But two interceptions — one at the Cincinnati 6, and the other in the Bengal end zone — stopped Charger drives. And they trail it, 17-7. Cincinnati opportunistic, as they have been all season long.>>Dick, just sitting out here — we’re open to the air in our booth here — you can feel it getting colder. That’s a trend that will continue throughout the game. It’s going to be tougher and tougher to play football. But I am really and truly impressed with the quality of the performance of these two teams under these terrible circumstances. I’m really impressed with the way they’ve both handled themselves.>>Absolutely. They are sitting on an electrically heated bench, but you know that that isn’t helping an awful lot. And there are the big blowers that also provide some warmth. The second half begins. Short kick. At the 15, the 20. And up to the 30-yard line go the San Diego Chargers, as it’s return by Doug Beaudoin, former New England Patriot. The Chargers take the field, offensively, with Fouts at quarterback. Chuck Muncie fumbled once, but it was recovered by a teammate. James Brooks — his fumble, on a kickoff return, recovered at the 12, led to an easy Cincinnati touchdown. Joiner and Chandler outside. Winslow shaken up in the end zone at the end of the first half, and we’ll have to check his condition. He’s in the lineup and okay. Shields, Wilkerson, Macek, White, and Washington, a big forward wall. From the 31-yard line. Muncie hit in the backfield. Breaks one tackle. And loses a yard. Wilson Whitley and Eddie Edwards. And it was Edwards, on the back of Muncie, who secured the tackle. Ken Riley, up from his corner position, also in on the tackle. Edwards, Whitley, and Browner, all number-one draft picks and all young. Bo Harris, LeClair, the leading tackler, Cameron, and Reggie Williams. Louis Breeden had one of the interceptions in the first half. The veteran Riley at the other corner, with his career 52 interceptions. Hicks and Kemp, two young safetymen. Second and 11. Triple-left formation. Only Muncie in the backfield. Into the wind. A man open. And it’s Charlie Joiner. Hit immediately at the 39-yard line, short of the first down, by Reggie Williams, number 57. Williams had a great year for the Bengals. There is the thermometer. The Fahrenheit on the left. And that one shows it’s about 4 degrees above zero, but the official reports from the meteorologist say it’s below zero, about 5 or 6. Third down, call it 2, a short 2. Muncie… has the first down, I believe. They spun him around at the 31. It appears he has the first-down yardage. Louis Breeden down low to submarine on the tackle, along with Glenn Cameron.>>Number 77, Sam Claphan, the backup tackle, used as a tight end, as they come with three tight ends in the game. Kellen Winslow, number 80, the man that’s holding off the linebacker on the inside, Cameron. And, of course, big Chuck Muncie using all of his strength. They’re gonna measure it. And he did, indeed, pick up the first down.>>Fred Silva the referee. And for this officiating crew, an honor to be in the championship game, as it is an honor for us to be here in what is NBC’s Super Bowl, our final telecast of the year. And there are the men who have earned the privilege of working in the cold of Cincinnati today. And if they had a choice, even knowing the weather, you know they’d be here, as with all of us. First down at the 41. Muncie. Up the middle for 3 yards, to the 44-yard line. Browner and Cameron made the tackle. Second down and 7 for San Diego at their own 44. Paul Brown in the left corner of your screen, a Hall of Fame, the great coach — Great Lakes, Ohio State, Cleveland Browns, formed this franchise. President and general manager of the Bengals — and former coach. Fouts had trouble holding the ball for a moment. And that’s Chandler. At the 45, 40. And out of bounds at the 38. And some fancy dancing by Wes Chandler. And a first down for San Diego.>>Chandler’s running ability one of his great strengths. You saw it last week on a great punt return. You’ll see it here again. Once he has that football, eludes Louis Breeden, number 34, manages to keep his feet, pick up about an extra 8 or 10 yards after he caught that pass.>>Now watch Breeden on the replay. He misses the tackle here but doesn’t quit on the play. He’ll still come back. And you’ll see 34 in on the tackle. Well, we didn’t quite see the end of the play, but he got a piece of the action. First down, San Diego. Muncie fumbles! And I believe the Bengals have it! Yes! Four turnovers go to Cincinnati. And the Bengals, as they have been all year long — They don’t give it up very often, and, yet, when it’s on the ground, they get more than their share. Reggie Williams, standing far right of your picture, makes the hit.>>Watch Williams, now, just stepping inside of the block. And he puts his shoulder right into the football. That’s the straight-up running style that we mentioned of Muncie’s, and it’s gotten him in trouble again, as the ball bounces away. Cincinnati has it, first and 10.>>From their own 40-yard line. Ken Anderson had a good first half. Gives to Pete Johnson. Short yardage. Not much there. Linden King made the tackle. It’s interesting that the Bengals, this year, playing against a four-man line, defensively, were 7-0. And they beat some good teams in the process — the Jets, they beat Pittsburgh a couple of times, and others.>>They beat Los Angeles, beat the Chargers. All four-man teams. There they are. There are the teams they defeated, all four-man-line defenses. And we’ll talk about the reasons for that in a moment.>>Second down and 8. Anderson — this is what he’s done well all year. And a first down at the 47-yard line of San Diego!>>Quarterback mobility is such an important thing. On that interception, the last one that Fouts threw, he had a chance to run, didn’t run. Anderson won’t hesitate. He sees the opening, he’ll take it. Gets away beautifully here. Gets downfield, picks up the first down. Takes what could have been a broken play, a bad play, a loss, and turns it into a big gainer.>>First down at the San Diego 47. The Bengals lead, 17-7. Little over 4 minutes have been played in the third quarter. And he’s gonna do it again. 45. And down at the 42. And Anderson didn’t like the way King came in… [ Crowd boos ] …nor did the fans. Pickup of about 5.>>Looks like he may have bounced himself a little bit as he gets up off the ground. I got to tell you — that turf is awfully, awfully hard. Let’s see what happened to Ken Anderson on that play. Again, quick recognition of the defense. He does not see an open receiver. He’ll pull it down right here, under pressure, and dip his way up into the secondary. Watch him slide here. He’ll try to go under the defenders. He takes a pretty good hit over the top. Three bodies.>>Gets your attention. Down the middle! What a catch by Dan Ross! Oh, my! That is an outstanding catch if it’s 80 degrees.>>On any day. Dan Ross singled up, one-on-one. Linden King — he breaks away from him. And he’s in front of the secondary. Right on his fingertips. He pulled it in. What a great catch, just hanging on to the football. 19 yards on the play.>>Another angle. And the ball was actually by him when he caught it. First down at the San Diego 23. The Bengals very impressive on almost every chance. And Anderson staying in the air. And he gets away again! 20, 15! To the 9-yard line! [ Crowd cheering ] Listen to these fans. [ Cheering continues ]>>Three big runs by Ken Anderson on this drive. Again, spreading the defense. He feels the pressure. Needs a little room. Takes advantage of it. A smart offense takes exactly what the defense is giving them. In this case, they were giving Anderson room to run. He did it very quickly.>>Full 10 yards to go for the touchdown. First and goal. Here’s Curtis! And it’s knocked away by Buchanon at the last second. Two veterans, both from the same school — San Diego State. And a key confrontation in the end zone, and Buchanon there to make the defensive play.>>Willie Buchanon had 5 interceptions on the regular season. They threw at him a lot. They moved him from safety back to corner. He seems to have played better there during the latter part of the year, but he makes a great play here, arriving just in time to take that touchdown away from Isaac Curtis.>>Buchanon was the number-one draft pick, out of San Diego State, by Green Bay in ’72. Don Coryell was his coach. Curtis the number-one pick by Cincinnati the next year. Second and 10. Almost intercepted. Picked off on one hop by Mike Williams. For the first time, a Charger defender put direct pressure on the quarterback, Anderson.>>Been tough to get to Anderson today, a credit to his offensive line. Muñoz, Lapham, Bush, Montoya, Wilson all doing a good job up front for the Cincinnati Bengals.>>In contrast, San Diego had 37 turnovers. And they’re down 4-0 today. Third and 10, or third and goal from the 10. M.L. Harris, the second tight end, is in there. Plenty of time. And finally throws it away. Collinsworth was the closest friendly jersey to the ball. So, Jim Breech comes in to try the field goal for Cincinnati. Breech kicked one for the opening points of the game.>>San Diego Chargers obviously pleased to avoid a touchdown here, down 17-7. They’d like to see if they can’t get in and block this field goal. It was a blocked field goal last week that really ignited them in the second half of that game against the Miami Dolphins.>>They actually wound up with two — one by Leroy Jones and one by Kellen Winslow. This will be about a 28-yard attempt. Oh, a fake! And it’s going to work! Kreider, touchdown!>>I believe we’ve got a flag down.>>If it’s against Cincinnati, it would nullify a touchdown and be the first penalty of the game against the Bengals. And they are going to call it back. So, those cheers become moans and groans here in Cincinnati.>>What a smart coaching play. A very smart call from the Bengals’ sideline. They elected to take advantage of the frustration. Now watch the play, a designed play. It’s not just a bad snap. They’re up quickly. And I think there’s an opportunity to toss that football, if Kreider was pressed. But he went right into the end zone with it.>>Number 52 — holding. Fourth down.>>A holding call against the Bengals.>>And that’s Tom Dinkel, number 52, reserve linebacker, that they called the penalty on. You see him right in the middle of the huddle there. You may have wondered why there was so much — why it was so open on the left-hand side. Number 52 is the up back over there, and he’s the man who is responsible for pinning in the contain man on that defense.>>Now it’s a much tougher field-goal try. This will be 38 yards. He does have the wind at his back. And he does kick it. And right down the middle. Jim Breech – 5’6″, less than 160 pounds. It’s interesting — Chris Bahr was the Bengal kicker. He went to Oakland, was using Breech’s house. Breech came to Cincinnati. They just traded homes. Brooks at the 20. 30. Flags are down. Brooks, 40. All the way to midfield, but it’s gonna be called back because of a holding penalty. So, the Bengals lost a touchdown — and now a little extracurricular — on a holding penalty, and the Chargers lose a long return. Jim Laslavic, 54, apparently was the culprit. All the way back to the 24.>>On the runback, number 54 — holding.>>So, instead of starting at the 50-yard line, San Diego will begin at its 24, trailing, 20-7. We’ll see how important the switch from a possible 7 to the 3-point field goal is as this game develops. Fouts back to the air. Almost fumbled the ball. He did fumble and had to fall on it. Tried to pump-fake and, in this cold weather, almost threw the ball right out of his own hand.>>Dick, we’ve talked about the fact that that football changes in characteristic. It simply gets harder. The leather itself contracts in the cold, and instead of having that grainy surface that has a little give to it, it’s a hard, slick surface. Fouts trying to grip the football back there, looking to his receivers. The ball just slipped out of his hands. He had to dive on it.>>Second down, 15. 57-year-old Don Coryell, a native of Seattle, Washington. He was a University of Washington defensive back. Down to the final seconds. They just beat the 30-second clock. Fouts down the middle. Incomplete. Almost intercepted. Through Joiner’s hands and deflected to Kemp. Bryan Hicks, 27, the defender. Kemp — when he joined that defensive secondary, Merlin, that really was the final mortar. He started about the third or fourth game, and Forrest Gregg said, “That’s when we really got tough in the deep secondary.”>>They’ve had a couple of experienced corners — Riley, who’s been around a long, long while, and Breeden. They needed the strength in that safety position. He certainly has provided it. They got a lineman at linebacker.>>Edwards. And he comes in on a blitz. Third and 15. And they throw it up. Almost intercepted. Scales the intended receiver. Griffin, Ray, Archie’s brother, the defender. And they’re on their feet in Cincinnati. [ Crowd cheering ]>>Five defensive linemen, and they jumped around at the last second. Eddie Edwards, number 73, up at the middle-linebacker position. Fouts, feeling the pressure of that blitz, threw the ball with a hope and a prayer, but it was well over the head of Dwight Scales, number 87. The Chargers have not been able to move the ball here in the second half, into the wind. They’re gonna have to kick it away.>>Roberts. Boy, tough to handle that snap. And a very short kick. Gets a good bounce. Across the 40. And to the 46-yard line — 49-yard line of Cincinnati. Cincinnati’s ball. Apparently, a time-out here.>>There are always a few nuts in the stands taking off their shirts, but some of the people I was concerned about, Dick, were the San Diego fans. I don’t feel that some of them would know how cold it is on the field today.>>Now, there are the guys I want to talk about — our cameramen today. Now, the players have hand warmers and heated benches and they’re able to move around. Our cameramen are standing in position, shooting these great pictures today. We’ve got to take our hats off. It’s cold for everyone, but they’re really winning the Nanook of the North Award for their great effort. And we thank them. Anderson hit from behind and still gets the pass away! And Dan Ross is to the San Diego 33-yard line!>>The NFL rule on quarterback says if you have them in your grasp and in your control, it’s considered a sack. On this particular play, he was not in the grasp. That’s Woodcock, number 90, who hits him. But he just flipped the ball on the way down, knew where the receiver was. And Dan Ross did the rest of it. He’s had a fantastic game, Dick.>>And great year. Ross — 71 catches. Comes back with four in the championship game. Anderson dumps it off to Alexander for another gain. And just as they were getting to Anderson, and it must be tremendously frustrating for the Charger defense. Just when they get to him, he completes a pass, and if they don’t put on pressure, he runs and picks up valuable yardage on that last field-goal drive.>>I was talking to Bob Trumpy, who lives here in Cincinnati. We were talking about the two quarterbacks who trained under Bill Walsh. And, of course, Anderson worked under him here, and then Fouts worked under him out in San Diego. And it’s interesting, because when Walsh went to San Diego, he took all of Fouts’ training film out there to show — or all of Anderson’s training film to show to Dan Fouts.>>Yeah, Fouts said that Bill Walsh, the coach of the 49ers — “He was my teacher, but Anderson was my model.” Flags down. And I think it’s against San Diego. Won’t matter. Curtis has it at the 17-yard line.>>Dick, one of the San Diego defensive linemen moved before the snap, was offsides. If so, they’ll mark the ball down where the ball was caught.>>That’s it. 13 yards for Cincinnati on the pass from Anderson to Curtis. And the Bengals are down in field-goal range again, already ahead, 20-7.>>I think that’s the longest pass in the air that we’ve seen caught today, Dick. Well-thrown by Anderson. Let’s watch the play. Couple of defenders moving, of course. And you saw the penalty called. Good protection for Ken Anderson. Isaac Curtis just finding a little space. Too much room in front of Willie Buchanon, number 28, and he catches the football cleanly.>>Now Anderson with those two big running backs — Alexander and Johnson — behind him. And it’s Johnson. To the 16-yard line. A gain of just 1 for the former Ohio State star. He scored 58 touchdowns with the Buckeyes — most ever in Big Ten history.>>One of the Chargers trying to protect his face from the cold, trying to get warmed up. Jack Pardee, on the right-hand side of your screen, responsible for the defense of the Chargers. A man under a lot of pressure during the season, as his defense has not played well. They have played better toward the tail end of the season, but they’re not getting as much as they would like to out of their performance today.>>4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. Bengals lead, 20-7. Ross again. Woody Lowe made the tackle at the 11-yard line. And a fumble. And San Diego has the ball. The Chargers’ Willie Buchanon picks up the fumble by Dan Ross. The first mistake made by the Bengals today.>>First turnover in two championship games for the Bengals. It certainly could be a costly one, had they been able to take that in for the 7.>>Even the 3, Merlin.>>Or even a 3. Could have iced the cake.>>More than two touchdowns on a 3.>>Watch the play here. Stripped from behind. Number 51, Woody Lowe. Dropped right into the lap of Willie Buchanon.>>Don Coryell — his San Diego Chargers’ mistakes have led to Cincinnati’s lead, 20-7, and now they have a fumble recovery. Fouts down the middle to Joiner. And he’s got him at the 40. So, that was, by far, the best throw of Fouts today. And, again, when he throws over the middle, he seems to be a different passer.>>Let’s look quickly at the fumble that allowed San Diego to get the ball.>>Watch Woody Lowe reach in from the back side with his right hand. The ball, now, will pop loose. And it goes right into the hands of Willie Buchanon. Buchanon, realizing he has the football, is up quickly. Makes a few yards before he’s pulled down. Fouts coming off the bench. Hands are warm. Went instantly on the pass. Good job.>>Both wide receivers to the right — Joiner and Chandler. And Joiner in motion. From the 39. Throw to Chandler. And he steps out of bounds around the 47. First-down play good for around 7 yards, as we pause, briefly, from Cincinnati for a station identification. This is the NBC Television Network. It is tough to say the words. The old jaw gets in a locked position. In fact, Bryant Gumbel — you should have seen him in rehearsal. He tried to say “memorable” and he took about 10 runs at it and realized we’re only gonna have to do two-syllable words today. Little reverse. And he’s got some blockers. Brooks, 50. And he’s to the Cincinnati 44-yard line. And that is a first down for the Chargers. Glenn Cameron, number 50, finally made the tackle.>>The old statue play. Brought it out, dusted it off. Brooks takes a couple of steps over. Fouts fakes the pass, hands it off to Brooks. The young man from Auburn accelerates quickly. Gets a good gain out of it. We’ve seen a couple of reverses today. Both have worked, but not for big yardage.>>Clock running down. 3 minutes left in the third quarter. Cincinnati 20, San Diego 7. Little draw to Muncie. 40. And he’s whacked at the 35-yard line. You know, Merlin, one of the things that strikes me — once a player gets a reputation of being a fumbler, he takes much more punishment from the other tacklers, ’cause everyone thinks, when they’re tackling, they’re gonna jar the ball free. Muncie really takes some vicious licks.>>Well, certainly, when you start thinking about going after that football, putting your helmet or your shoulder pad to the ball, you can cause more fumbles. And, certainly, looking at Muncie on film, seeing him cough the ball up for those hard hits, all the defensive players that go up against him have to be thinking about that before and during the game.>>Second and 1. Muncie again. First down and more. And he almost got outside for a touchdown. He’s to the 25-yard line. And another first down. That’s 10 more yards for Muncie. He has fumbled twice today, one recovered by the Bengals.>>Talking about the fact that he has coughed the football up, and some of you might ask, “Well, why does Don Coryell keep him in the game?” They keep him in the game because of this. Muncie is one of the great running backs in NFL football, a man with tremendous size, great speed, and a big heart. He’ll run until he hurts himself.>>First down at the 25 with 1:40 left in this third quarter. Brooks. Great penetration by Williams. And then Williams made the tackle. And Brooks fighting just to get back to the line of scrimmage. Boy, 57, Williams — a big play for the Bengals.>>He’s had a lot of big plays during this season. He’s their blitzing linebacker. Very big in the sacking department. He had a fine year. Chargers being a little tricky. Bring Kellen Winslow in motion. He stopped about right behind the center and went back outside to become a blocker. But the Bengal defense was not fooled. And Fouts is faced with a second and 10.>>Four straight running plays for Fouts, but he’s in a pass situation — second and 10. And stays on the ground. And he doesn’t fool the Bengals. Brooks gets only a yard. And there are 50 seconds left in this third quarter. Ross Browner was the first man to make the hit. Those look comfortable, don’t they?>>I wonder if they have any in my size. [ Laughs ]>>Those look your size.>>They certainly do. Crowd obviously trying to stay warm, as they get on to the shady side of it. Those in the sun still enjoying a little bit more heat. But it is cold anywhere you are in this stadium today.>>Two running plays, both stopped for no gain. Third and 10. Joiner left, Chandler to the right. And, Fouts tripping over his own blocker, is downed back at the 31. And that may well have taken San Diego out of field-goal range. Now there’s 10 seconds left, and the clock stopped because of the sack. Now, the Chargers would like for the quarter to end, where at least their kicker would have the wind advantage.>>Not only do your hands get cold, your feet get cold. Fouts hooking the back heel, it appeared, of his off guard. That would be Wilkerson. And he actually dropped that football and had to scoop it up.>>And despite the fact we’ve lost equipment due to the cold today, you wouldn’t notice it. A terrific job by our technical crew. A long field-goal try of 50 yards by Benirschke. And it isn’t even close. And, so, Cincinnati will take over in reasonably good field position. Breech has been able to kick well. Benirschke has not.>>Lots of pressure on everyone. You see the cameraman on the left. The wind whipping in his part of the stadium. Got to be freezing cold up there. 6 degrees now. Again, the 59-degree wind-chill factor. Ooh! Gusting to 40 miles an hour. You can feel that wind. It goes right on through you.>>Cincinnati takes over, after the missed field goal, at the 32-yard line.>>Draw.>>Alexander. Clutching that football. Out to the 35-yard line. Horn, Kelcher, and company on the tackle.>>Dick, it’s no wonder that some of the Bengals have been able to handle this cold better than the Chargers. Having had a chance to practice in it, intermittently, during the latter part of the season and many of them, for many years in the past, they have had to learn how to handle the cold. And you have to make adjustments. You have to throw the ball a bit differently. You have to understand that a lot of that is concentration. If you’ve been through it a number of times, it’s easier for you.>>That’s a point well-taken, that you’re not thinking so much about the weather because at least you’ve gone through the experience. You don’t like it any more. Collinsworth fumbled, but he recovers it. And what a kind bounce for Cincinnati. That ball hit the frozen turf and kangarooed right back into Collinsworth’s mitts.>>Anderson doing exactly what Fouts has done. As he and his receivers came off with warm hands, he goes deep instantly, gets the first pass in. Good pass right there. And the ball did, indeed, come up to him like a yo-yo.>>Collinsworth on his way to warmer climes — the Pro Bowl out in Hawaii — as a rookie receiver. Alexander way out to the right side. Both wide receivers to the left. From the Charger 49. It’s Johnson. Flag down, as the Bengals ran out of pass formation. Someone lost part of his shoulder pad, it appears.>>A holding call against the San Diego Chargers will march the ball back 10 yards.>>Against Cincinnati.>>Against Cincinnati. You wonder why the hole was so large. Somebody just tackled one of the defensive linemen in there.>>Offense, number 65 — holding. First down.>>It’s interesting in games that involve physical contact — I’m thinking of hockey and football as two examples, and even the NBA or college basketball — when you get down to the final game, there are less penalties called. And the players know that. They know that the officials are only gonna call the clear-cut fouls. And the smart player recognizes that and uses it to his advantage. First down and 20 from the Cincinnati 41. And here comes Anderson. Chased by Leroy Jones. And down he goes at the 45. Boy, he got hit in a sandwich and gets up again. Gain of 5. Woop. Little woozy. Anderson being helped to his feet by his teammates. He took quite a pop, as two men hit him simultaneously. And I’m not sure he has all his faculties.>>No, he’s out on his feet. One of the dangers of a running quarterback is that he then becomes a running back. He does not have the protection that’s afforded to a quarterback. You wonder why he’s woozy? He really took a shot. There are the stats comparing the two quarterbacks on the day. Not that different in number. In fact, almost identical, except for the interceptions.>>Ken Anderson being attended to and will be replaced by a man who was born in American Samoa, which conjures up thoughts of palm trees and zephyr breezes, 80-, 90-degree temperatures. Jack Thompson, who played his football at Washington State, has taken over. Second and 15 at his 45. And he gives to Pete Johnson, who cracks his way for 8 yards to the 47 of San Diego. Let’s go back to see the play on which Anderson was injured.>>Dangers, again, of running the football apparent on this play. Anderson has had big plays running the ball all day. Nobody open. Dives up through, finds some room to run. Watch him sandwiched right at the end of this play. He drops to the ground and takes a shot right there to the head. He thinks he can get up. Starts out and literally almost dropped back to the ground.>>Three wide receivers in for Thompson on third down and 7. And that’s Johnson. A great catch and a first down! To the 31-yard line! That’s a remarkable catch under the weather conditions. Every play is, I guess. You can repeat yourself the rest of the way. And here comes Anderson back in to a standing ovation! [ Crowd cheering ]>>Ironic, perhaps, that Thompson would make that appearance, because at the beginning of the year, many people said, “This is our number-one quarterback.” Ken Anderson was fighting for the starting job. Thompson started a couple of games. And it was his injury that allowed Kenny to get back, claim the starting job, and then become the MVP of the NFL.>>It’s storybook stuff. Anderson was booed off the field in the opening game, when he fell behind 21-0 to Seattle. Johnson gets the carry. And good yardage on first down to the San Diego 26. He was yanked out of the game in the first half against Seattle, down 21-0, and Thompson was hurt. Turk Schonert, the third-string quarterback, from Stanford, engineered a come-from-behind 27-21 Bengal lead. And then Forrest Gregg made the biggest decision of the Cincinnati year. He had to decide, in Game 2, what quarterback to start. And Anderson convinced him, as the veteran, he should. Gregg went with his veteran, and here he is the NFL man of the year. Second down, call it 4. Alexander bolts inside the 25, to the 23. And that looks as if it’s going to be close enough for a measurement.>>Running in, again, behind Muñoz and Lapham on the left-hand side. Thompson returning to the headsets, where he provides some valuable duty. And, certainly, an extremely capable quarterback to have on the sideline, but I’m sure he’d a lot rather be starting the ballgames than being the number-two guy.>>Here comes the measurement. While they do that, here’s an idea of how the city of Cincinnati and the stadium has prepared for these inordinately cold conditions. The coldest day this date in the history of Cincinnati. They have several paramedic rescue units on hand. Extra blankets have been brought in from area hospitals. Two first-aid rooms for emergency treatment. The buses — the metropolitan buses — are being used as warming rooms for fans. P.A. announcements are being made to advise fans about frostbite. There’s a police scout car. An ambulance is on standby. Area hospitals have been warned that they may have extra business. So they have really done a good job preparing for emergencies. Third and inches. M.L. Harris… Alexander diving forward. Appeared he might have gotten enough for the first down, but going to be close. And we may have a time-out for another measurement. Jim Laslavic, former Penn State star. Same high-school team as Cappelletti, and, of course, they both migrated to Penn State.>>Looking at this game on paper coming in and without taking into account the weather, the three units that matched up well were the two offensive units and the Cincinnati Bengal defense. The unit that did not appear to match up — the San Diego offense. And that’s really been the way it is today. The two offenses are playing well, but the Bengals have been able to overpower this Charger defense.>>Here’s the reason why Alexander did not make the first down. A tremendous hit by Laslavic, number 54, and Shaw, 44.>>Oh. Great shot. Great shot. Picked him off right at the peak and dumped him back over.>>Pete Shaw, who played his football at Northwestern, where he had plenty of chances to make tackles.>>They’re going for on fourth down. Not gonna take a chance at the field goal into the wind.>>It’s Johnson this time. And he’s got a first down and more! To the 14-yard line! And where did they run? Right behind Muñoz.>>And they go right for the money. Big Anthony out there doing his job. He’s on Woodcock, number 90. He gets help from the tight end, the double-team. Good block by number 40, Alexander. And then that bulldozer, number 46, Pete Johnson, just flew through there.>>And now the clock becomes more and more important. Less than 10 minutes left. Cincinnati trying to make it a two-touchdown-plus lead. Current score is 20-7. Johnson. Try the 10-yard line. Did you see somebody — I think it was Muñoz again. Yes, it was Muñoz. He knocked Woodcock 5, 7 yards off the line of scrimmage. He is a ton — 6’6″ and 278. And Muñoz has really trimmed down. He was much heavier at USC.>>I watched him in his college days. Got to watch him in practice a few days. He had great agility and strength then, at 300-plus pounds. But he’s even more brutal these days because he has great quickness, even greater quickness. You saw him knock — There he is right at the bottom of your picture. Knocked Woodcock 4 or 5 yards off the line.>>Second down and 6. Up the middle and inside the 10, maybe to the 8-yard line goes Johnson. Bring up third down and about 3. That offensive line of Cincinnati has done a good job the entire day. Blair Bush, the underrated center, Lapham and Montoya, the guards, Muñoz and Wilson, the tackles.>>We talked, earlier, about their success against the four-man front. One of the reasons they have been so successful — Bush is so quick from that center position, has the great ability to reach out and cut off those defensive tackles and also to be a great pickup man while the other four play man-on-man.>>This is the 13th play of a time-consuming drive of over 6 1/2 minutes. Alexander. It appears he has the first down. Stopped right at the 5, inside the 5. Going to be close. I think he’s got the first down, judging from where they put down the ball. Although, we may have a measurement.>>Watch Fred Silva, the referee.>>Man in the black hat. [ Crowd cheering ] Well, you know every one of these fans will go home, and today, tonight, tomorrow, and 20 years from now, they will tell the story of this bitter-cold day in Cincinnati when the Bengals played a very hot game.>>What do they say? “Cold hands, warm heart”? Cold day, warm crowd. They’re hot in Cincinnati.>>And they’ve been a factor today, they way they’ve spurred their favorite team on. Johnson. And a touchdown now would all but seal the Chargers’ fate. They were able to stop Cincinnati, the last drive, on a fumble by Ross. But, at this point, with 7:22 left, the Bengals have clearly been the superior team today. Ross, M.L. Harris, and Don Bass — three tight ends in for Cincinnati. Pete Johnson — 63 yards rushing today. And he’s the man they like to go to inside the 5. Anderson going to throw. Touchdown, Don Bass! And now they know. Don Bass did not catch a pass all year. He recovered a fumble, that Brooks fumble at the 12-yard line, that led to an easy touchdown in the first half. And his first catch this year is for 6 points.>>Beautiful throw right there over the outstretched hands of Willie Buchanon, number 28. Bass is celebrating.>>Try for a point by Breech. And he is dead center again. The Bengals 27-7 on Don Bass’ 3-yard touchdown catch. What a drive. 8:04 the Bengals chewed up. 68 yards in 15 plays. That was right out of Gregg’s playbook. Again, it’s Beaudoin on the short kick. Across the 30, to the 34-yard line. While we have a moment, we want to thank two men with whom we’ve worked all year — our director, Ted Nathanson, our producer, Larry Cirillo. It’s a professional joy to be able to spend each Sunday with them. Paul Brown, a man who knows how to win. Almost as if he’s trying to choke back a smile, licking his lips. He’s ever so close to a trip to the Super Bowl. He knows the meaning of a championship, as the Cleveland Browns champion coach. Fouts, desperation to Chandler. And a fine grab at the 40-yard line by Chandler. Bryan Hicks saved a touchdown by hanging on to the Floridian.>>Well, showing some of that explosion coming right off the bench and, again, having warmed up on the sideline, able to throw that kind of pass. The receiver able to catch it. He may try again to go deep while they’re still relatively warm, before that cold can get to them and numb the hands.>>Chandler’s really had a fine day, hasn’t he?>>He certainly has, Dick.>>Bengals using six defensive backs with that big lead. Throwing underneath to Chandler. All the dancing doesn’t get him anywhere. Ray Griffin, number 44, made the tackle. While we have a moment, we want to thank our spotters, Bill Schwarberg and Mike Leonard and Joe Lambert and John Murdo, also, with their assistance in the booth. To all the crew, extraordinary effort.>>Dick, I’m sure the San Diego fans, wherever they might be, wishing that this game could have been played on a warm day, but the Bengals earned their home-field advantage. They did it by playing better football during the season.>>There’s a footnote to that. As Fouts going deep. That could be intercepted. Muncie almost making the juggling catch at the 5-yard line. The truth of the matter is — for those who might be bemoaning, from the San Diego point of view, if San Diego had beaten Cincinnati in San Diego, in that warm climate, they’d be hosting the game today, because then both teams would have finished 11-5. And with San Diego beating Cincinnati, they would have had the home field. The Bengals earned it. You’re right.>>They did. And I don’t think that any football fan in the country would have wanted this game to be played on this kind of day. We all wanted to see that explosive offense doing their thing. But that’s the way it is, and you play by the rules in this game. The rules say the game is played here, and it just happened to be in the cold.>>Third and 7 for Fouts. In trouble. Somehow gets away. Hit from behind at the 30-yard line by Ross Browner.>>Could be very close to the first down. Pressure applied by number 73, Eddie Edwards. Edwards having a fine day. They are really glad to have him back in the lineup. Out for about four games with a knee injury. He has been very impressive today. Fouts, uncharacteristically, running the football. But he’s a game quarterback. He’ll do anything he can to help his team win.>>He has the first down at the 30-yard line, but time is running out on Don Coryell’s San Diego team. 4:35 left. And the Chargers are behind by 20. The winner will play the victor of the NFC championship — either Dallas or San Francisco. Fouts, plenty of time. Chandler open for a moment. And did he make the catch? No. He had it for a moment, on a brilliant leap, but it was ripped away by the Bengals’ John Simmons, number 25.>>Bobby Kemp also there. Fouts hoping that the very talented receiver, Chandler, could go up and take it away, which he did. But they stripped it away. Simmons — No, Kemp, number 26, was actually the man that pulled it out of his hands. Kemp — Watch it right here. They both have it, but Kemp able to get his fingers on the ball and pull it out of the grasp of Chandler. Chandler — what a great addition he’s been to this team. He’s helped them to replace the great loss of John Jefferson.>>Second down and 10 at the Bengal 30-yard line. Joiner. And you could see the ball flopping in its flight and sailing out of bounds. Ken Riley, “The Rattler,” from Florida A&M. And Riley knows well the ups and downs of not only a season but of a career. He came here in the Bengals’ second year, as this club, out of expansion, growing in its adolescence. Here he is now in its finest moment, its first AFC championship. And just 4:11 from playing in that treasured Super Bowl. Boy, it’s something that eluded you, and I guess only the players themselves can identify with how very much that means. Muncie. 25. And out of bounds at the 22, short of the first down. Brings up fourth and 2.>>A lot of people laughed at the uniform change, the new stripes. Well, these Bengals have, indeed, changed their stripes. And it would appear that they’re gonna carry those new uniforms all the way to Pontiac. Chance to play in the big one.>>Well, that’s the Lions’ den. That’s almost a friend in the jungle, isn’t it?>>They ought to be comfortable there, Dick.>>Well, this is it for San Diego. They have to make this 1 yard, a first down, or you can really start singing the Cincinnati farewell song. Farewell and good luck. It’s Muncie. And he has the first down and doesn’t want to stop. But fumbles!>>And they missed the ball. It will go out of bounds. It will belong to the Chargers.>>That was recovered by one of the linemen for the Chargers hustling downfield, Wilkerson, Doug Wilkerson, the All-Pro guard from North Carolina Central.>>There were a couple of chances for the Bengals. They had people down there. Again, Muncie carrying that football in the right arm. Looks like he gets away there, does a good job. But it’s stripped away from behind. Hicks, number 27, reached in and got ahold of the football. Glenn Cameron, LeClair both there. But Doug Wilkerson doing a good job. Now, if that ball would have gone out of bounds, it still would have belonged to the Chargers.>>First down and goal just outside the 5 with 3:17 left. By not going out of bounds, the clock has been running all this time. Muncie stopped cold at the 5-yard line. And the clock continues to run. 3:01, 3 minutes left. 3 minutes. They’ve tape up the ear perforation on the helmets to keep from frostbite of the ears.>>Keep a little bit of wind out of that helmet, but believe me — it only helps a bit.>>10th play of the drive. Clock running out on San Diego. From the 5. Fouts. To Sievers. And he dropped the ball. And Fouts, as he had his head down, could only wait for the crowd reaction to know whether the ball was caught or not. When he heard the cheers, he knew that was bad news.>>Reggie Williams had been knocked down as he blitzed in from the outside. Able to get up and hit Fouts just as he threw the football. And Sievers doing a toe dance. Watch him try and keep his feet in. He knows he’s dangerously close to that end line. Managed to keep the feet in, but could not handle that slick football. Watch Fouts. Watch Reggie Williams now. He’ll be knocked to the ground. Quickly up on his feet. And he’ll level Fouts just as Fouts gets that football away. And Fouts hit hard on the ground.>>2:29 left in this game. Incomplete to Winslow. And the wind appeared to take that one and fly it right out of bounds.>>That’s the finesse kind of pass that you have a hard time throwing on a day like today. The hands have got to be feeling like cold bricks out there right now, Dick.>>Don Coryell. He has his team in the playoffs for the fifth time in nine head-coaching years at St. Louis and San Diego. And he came up with a bad roll. The weatherman did not do him any favors. This is it. Last call. Fourth and goal. Brooks. He didn’t make it! And now listen to Cincinnati! [ Crowd cheering ] I was searching through some notes at the start of the year, and in Reno, the wagers at the start of the year said the odds on Cincinnati winning the Super Bowl were 60-to-1. San Diego was the preseason favorites — 4-to-1. The Bengals are going to be there for the chance at it. And Johnson rips — And he fumbles. And that’s a rarity. And recovers it or someone helped him out. Nope. He got it himself. 2 minutes to go at Riverfront Stadium. And these fans, who have weathered a brutally cold day to cheer their Bengals, have been rewarded. Cincinnati 27, San Diego 7. The Bengals have the ball at the 10-yard line. A Cincinnati team that won only four games in ’78. Two years ago, they won only four games. Last year, won 6 and lost 10. And then, suddenly, just reversed it all, finished with the best record in the AFC, 12-4. Beat Buffalo last week and apparently have won the big one, the championship of the AFC, today on their way to the Super Bowl in the Silverdome. And, as Ken Anderson told me, “The nice thing,” he said before the game, “whether San Diego wins or whether we win, you know in the Super Bowl, you’re gonna get at least 35 to 40 passes.”>>[ Chuckles ] Well, and if the San Francisco 49ers get there, you might see three times that many.>>I want to ask you, when we get a moment. We’re gonna have a time-out here, apparently. I want to ask you how Cincinnati, in your eyes, matches up against San Francisco or matches up against Dallas. No, they’re not going to call time. I’d like to remind fans, if they have forgotten, San Francisco and Cincinnati played during the course of the regular season and played here. And the score of that game was — the 49ers 21, the Bengals 3. 1:50 to go. Boy, now it is really cold on that side of the field.>>And it’s starting to sink in over there. They’re not only feeling the cold, they’re feeling the pain of that score on the scoreboard.>>Anderson — The clock is running, and he’s gonna let it run all the way down to 2 or 3 seconds on the 30-second clock before he makes a play. 1:24 on the game clock. Pete Johnson hugging the football and tackled immediately at the 16-yard line. Time-out called by the Chargers to stop the clock. Gene Klein, owner of the San Diego Chargers, survived a heart attack the middle of 1981. You knew that recognized the problems coming into this kind of climate. But he’s a great sportsman and gentleman, and he’d be the first one in that Cincinnati locker room to congratulate the Bengals.>>And there are only four teams playing today, Dick. All the rest are at home watching. He’s got to be proud of his team and the kind of season they’ve had. They went through their problems this year. They fought their way back. They fought their way into this game. Came right down to the last game. They had to sit and watch Denver play to find out if they were gonna have a chance to go. They’re here. They’ve done a great job. They’ve had a good season. You know, it’s a shame that they couldn’t have shown their wares on a day like today, but we’ve talked about that. The Bengals earned the right to play at home. They’ve earned their victory today. They’ve earned their trip to the Super Bowl.>>And what a year for that man, Ken Anderson. He’s been maligned in this city. They’ve booed him. Paul Brown — he’s been there before. He’s able to hold his emotions perhaps better than — It’s something about that first time, whether it’s your first love or your first championship. You never really forget that one. And for Forrest Gregg and for the Cincinnati Bengal fans, this is their first, and they’re in love with this ball club.>>Well, they certainly have regenerated the enthusiasm and the interest of this town in football. This place is going crazy.>>Johnson hit at the 21-yard line. And the clock runs. 1:04, 1:03. The Chargers cannot stop it now. They’ll get the ball, but that will be about all. Congratulations to that man. All his honors and intelligence, physical talent. He outpassed the opponents, he outran all the quarterbacks in this league, and, at the age of 32, has enjoyed his finest moment. In the meantime, just for fun, he earned his law degree. That’s a busy man. And Paul Brown.>>There, you see the smile. I think maybe it’s finally sinking in. They are, indeed, making their trip to the Super Bowl.>>A 60-to-1 long shot, ladies and gentlemen. Down to 27 seconds. They’re gonna let the clock run. There will be a chance for one play. The 30-second clock is at 10. Gonna be about 9 seconds left when Cincinnati initiates the play. And talk about Paul Brown and the men that played under him that went on as successful coaches. Don Shula was a Brown disciple. Chuck Knoll played for Paul Brown. Mike McCormack played for Brown. At Great Lakes Naval Academy, Bud Grant played for Paul Brown. So his heritage will live on, his teaching talent. Certainly one of the great football minds of all time.>>Although this team is coached by Forrest Gregg, it certainly bears the stamp. And you see the smiles. They’re not even feeling that 59-degree-below-zero chill factor right now. You talk about warmth. They’re bouncing up and down with it on the Cincinnati sideline.>>The final seconds in Cincinnati. McInally gets his kick away. When it comes down, the Bengals are champions! And Forrest Gregg survived a bitter firing in Cleveland, stayed out of football, went to the Canadian league, was regarded by some of his players as too tough. But you listen to every Bengal, and they say, “The difference is that man, our coach.” He survived two cancer operations. And the Bengal stripes — they really earned them, didn’t they?>>They earned their stripes and they’ve earned their victory today, their trip to the Super Bowl. Good football on an incredibly bad football day. But it was the Bengals who wanted it the most, who were able to take advantage of some miscues by the San Diego Chargers. Some costly interceptions by Dan Fouts. Able to grind it away. Anderson able to throw the ball effectively. It was a Bengal day.>>Exhilaration of victory in the Bengal locker room, in contrast to the numbing defeat by the Chargers. Stay with us now. Part of the delight is to get the feelings of the athletes who took part in this championship game — won by the Bengals, 27-7.

100 Replies to “1981 AFC Championship Game: Chargers vs. Bengals | “The Freezer Bowl” | NFL Full Game”

  1. 16:48 Bengals Force Fumble on Kickoff

    18:26 K. Anderson 8-yard TD Pass to Harris

    33:46 D. Fouts 33-yard TD Pass to K. Winslow

    40:23 P. Johnson 1-yard TD Run

    46:38 D. Fouts Intercepted by Breeden

    53:23 D. Fouts Intercepted by Kemp

    1:01:57 Chargers Fumble in Bengal Territory

    1:17:54 Bengals Fumble in Chargers Territory

    1:36:44 K. Anderson 3-yard TD Pass to D. Bass

    1:47:21 Chargers Stop Bengals on Fourth Down to Ice the Freezer Bowl

  2. Despite those extreme temperatures, the Ohio River in Cincinnati did not freeze over like it did in January 1977. Guess it was just a freak cold snap in January 1982.

  3. The Chargers would have won but it was just too cold. Dan Fouts (QB) said that it was so cold that it was very difficult to throw the football.

  4. Very rare for Cincinnati/Kentucky to see this kind of cold. I think I read that this was the third or fourth-coldest day ever in the city dating to the 1800s. The Sunday before this when the Bengals beat Buffalo at home the temperature was in the 50s.

  5. Speaking of Bengals, why not go back to the 1981 uniforms, minus the helmet. That Orange stripe helmets from 1981 is still fresh and clean and is still used today anyhow.

  6. No way it was -59. The coldest ever recorded temperature in Ohio was -39. Perhaps wind chill was -59. Still unbelievably cold!

  7. oh my God Enberg said midget I'm so offended I'm still so offended how could he say such a mean terrible work where's my coloring books.

  8. So lets get this in perspective. The Chargers flew from San Diego ( dry air and sunny sky ) to Miami Florida and played in hot humid weather ( for January) , played a double overtime game where they had to fight muscle cramps , had to carry Winslow off the field . Then the Chargers flew back to San Diego , practice in dry air and sunny sky , then fly to Cincinnati and attempt to play a game in minus fiftynine degrees. – 59 ? You kidding me ? Has any team ever gotten that shitty of the end of the stick before? Oh yeah , to top it off the Chargers play their home games on grass , Miami game on grass , now go play on what was basically rubber on top of concrete in " minus 59 degrees " weather .

  9. Played on a neutral field – or just on a day with 0 degree temperatures – The Chargers win that game. But at -59 it was almost impossible to get the passing game going consistently. And coming from 84 degrees and a ton of humidity the week before there was no way any team was going to win in Cincinnati that day. The weather beat the Chargers more than the Bengals did.

  10. My dad went to this game when he was a kid, he told me he had like 4 layers of clothing and a sleeping bag! He also told me the Kenny Anderson and Dan Fouts got frostbite on their hands!🥶

  11. Nice post AZ…many memories. Football is first and foremost an element sport.This is what originally made the game exciting!

  12. I say this because I've lived in Southern California almost all my life. I bet you if the Bengals and Chargers played a playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium these days in early January, and the weather was about 10 degrees, NOT a single Charger fan would be at that stadium. Los Angeles people get scared and then bundle up in thick layers of clothes in 53 degree weather. People on the West Coast can't handle (mentally or physically) cold weather like people in the Midwest and East Coast can.

  13. Chargers choked again! They would lose to David Woodley in 82. Favored from 79-82 to win Superbowl. Bills would do worse. Lose 4 Super Bowls in a row. Bengals have yet to win anything.

  14. How can I see the Monday night game in 1975 when Ken Anderson passed for 450 yards to beat the Bills with O.J. gaining 200 yards rushing?

  15. Strange watching games back in the day. Gotta admit it's kinda nice to not see the players celebrate after every first down. Or when the score a touchdown, they don't all go into some stupid dance routines. Just some high fives and hand the ball to the ref

  16. That old Riverfront turf was bad enough under favorable conditions.. I can't even imagine what it felt like on a day with -59 wind chill.. whatever these players got paid it wasn't enough

  17. The Freezer Bowl inspired the NFL to play the Super Bowl in warmer climates until stupid politicians got involved and changed it!

  18. Looking back on this game, Chargers should have won it easily in spite of the poor conditions. They were deep in Cincinnati territory a number of times and failed to score with what looked like faulty play calling. The Bengals meanwhile were far from impressive. Goes to show, the better team does not always win. Also, human psychology. The prior win for the Chargers was possibly the greatest NFL game of all time in Miami. For whatever reason, teams tend to have a let down after big wins like that.

  19. Merlin Olson says after Fouts first pass, "you lose the feeling in your hand for the ball in weather this cold." He doesn't notice, or neglects to point out, that Fouts is wearing a glove on his passing hand; Anderson elects to throw bare handed. The Bengals came in with the better record than the Chargers, they'd beaten San Diego in the regular season, and handled their nemesis, the Steelers, in both season games. Anderson was #1 rated passer in this season (and #1 runner among QBs), since he had a line that could protect him and players who could run the ball (P. Johnson) as well as help for Curtis (Collingsworth, Ross). But despite his impressive numbers, Anderson at the age of 32 didn't have the same zip on the ball as he did at ages 24 and 25 (again #1 passer, under QB coach Bill Walsh). He's a smarter QB, but he couldn't do much about the turn-overs that cost the Bengals their first Superbowl.

  20. Friends mom worked for the Cinci mayor, so he had box seats….almost froze to death walking up from the parking lot..didn't dress for the day but figured why bother, ill be inside :(…had my feet on the heater and didn't thaw out until halftime….i would have never made it sitting outside, not a cold weather person.

  21. In January, 1982 when this game was played, NBC-TV Network's Mon.-Fri. daytime game shows were Alex Trebek-hosted original "Battlestars" series, "Password Plus" and "Wheel/Fortune". Same month, January 10 yrs. prior (1972) "peacock" network's (NBC's) Mon.-Fri. daytime game shows were original "Concentration", original "Jeopardy!", "III On Match", early-1970s "…Century", original "Hollywood Squares" series and "Who-What-Where Game"

  22. always football games are rigged I believe the Dallas Saints game was rigged to I mean how can you get away with so many blatant headshots without a flag

  23. In 1971, the Packers could ave drafted Ken Anderson in the 3rd round…instead they waited until the 6th round to draft Scott Hunter….One of the MANY gaffs by Dan notso Devine…

  24. 6 quarterbacks that I wish would have got a Super Bowl ring: Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Warren Moon, Bert Jones, Ken Anderson & Dan Fouts. All should be in the HOF

  25. I wish i could go back to this time in nfl and invent fantasy football. then take my time machine back to 2019. Id be richer than jeff bezos 😂😂😂

  26. Ken Anderson was likely the best all round QB from mid 70’s to early 80’s IMO. He was on a terrible team for years and got no respect.

  27. 1ST D. Enberg He was Class Act he could Make Any1 Look Good…San Diego ran twice to start the Game & got 1st down& thn Tried to throw..Its -59, U have to Establish the running game Plus it would keep UR Guys Moving & they Never Went Back To it…

  28. Would’ve LOVED too have Seen Faust Vs Montana in Good Weather.. they’d have to have Given a Better Showing than What Cinn. Did.. Might have been one of the Worst SB.. At least there’d been A Lot Of Offense..& High Scoring

  29. I wonder if the Brown family told the Bengals back then they didnt care if they won or lost just pack the stadium
    and make us $$$.

  30. 1:01:57 – Watch the grit of Fouts, diving in to try to recover that fumble….in a pile of bodies….with a wind chill of 59-below-zero. Contrast that with the Gutless Wonder, aka Cam Newton, who couldn't even be bothered to simply fall on a fumble in the Super Bowl to keep his team in the game….with only a single outstretched arm to contend with….in balmy conditions.

    And yet stupid fanboys continue to defend and excuse Newton and his utter cowardice.

  31. At least in Cincinnati they still play in the weather. You can work up enough warmth either by playing or cheering in the stands but there's nothing can be done about the wind chill. R.I.P. Forrest Gregg and Chuck Muncie and thanks for the memories

  32. Chargers should have stolen play sheets, filmed walk throughs, added a 2nd channel to their head sets then they would have been a dynasty. its been shown to be very successful.

  33. I don't think this was the missing ring for the Chargers. I feel SBXV was definitely the missing ring for the Chargers.

  34. 1981 was a memorable NFL season the playoffs had great games SDvsMia 41-38 2ot thriller BuffvsNYJ wc NYG made playoffs 1st time since 1963 and of course the DALvsSF "theCatch" NFC title game which aired right after this game was over!

  35. All I have to say about this game is hats off to both teams in that frigid weather. I think Winslow said a few years ago that he still has some ailments from that game.

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