Tuesday, February 1, 2022

TUESDAY TIDBITS: "Fellow Babies I'm Burning Up"

By TJ Troup
We all love to laugh, or at least we should all have a sense of humor? There have been many, MANY situational comedies on television, and with few exceptions just did not think many of them were funny. No, you are going to get a list from me; but with the passing of Howard Hesseman just thought would share. The format, the writers, and the actors and actresses who starred in "WKRP in Cincinnati" kept me tuned in every week. Johnny Caravella becomes Dr. Johnny Fever, and the rest shall we say becomes history. 

Howard Hesseman passes as the Bengals rally to win a game most thought they had no chance to win----especially down 21-3 and the Chiefs inside the ten-yard line right before the end of the half. This is a game that the Chiefs coaching staff will painfully review, and if the team falters next year and does not return to the AFC title game, will always be remembered as one of those "what if" games. Right now we have so-called experts and pundits attempting to explain how and why the Bengals got this far? Next week will go into more detail on the silver trophy game. 

The San Francisco 49ers proved to one and all they can take the field, and go toe to toe with ya for four quarters, and while a year to remember for Niner fans, a season that leaves us with more questions than answers. 

My friends across the country will verify that my pre-season prediction hit the bullseye...The Rams will go to the Super Bowl". Again, more on the match-up of the two teams next week. The Rams change to white and blue uniforms beginning in '64 has a lasting place in the memories of all of us who relish watching the old NFL Films highlights. 

Los Angeles wore those classic uniforms through 1972, and youngsters that is where we are going today; back to 1972 and the first time the Bengals played the Rams. Is it time for some background? Of course it is, simply 'cause that is how I operate...bet you knew that? 1970 is a line of demarcation in league history, and the Rams under my "guru" George Allen faltered late in the season and did not earn a wild-card berth. 

George Allen will be leaving Los Angeles with a lasting legacy. The Bengals caught fire at mid-season and won a division title with an 8-6 record. The Tommy Prothro Rams of 1971 played winning football, but lost the division race to the 49ers, while the Bengals stumbled back to their losing ways during that season. Prothro has a talented team to work with, but his college-style coaching still seems very strange to many who follow and love their Rams. 

Paul Brown does not handle losing well, and he knows his team can be a factor in the AFC Central. Five weeks into the season and Los Angeles is 3-1-1, while Cincinnati is playing first-place football at 4-1. We are in the Coliseum on a 63-degree day on this 22nd day of October, and the Rams are wearing their blue jerseys. 

The classy Dick Enberg states in the Rams highlight film "a game that meant much to the standings". Los Angeles usually has a strong running attack, and scores first on the ground, but struggles almost the entire game running the ball (gain -2 rushing in the first half). The Bengals meanwhile actually move the ball on the ground against a supposed Ram strength? David Ray kicks a field goal in the second quarter and the Rams head to the locker room at the half up 10-0. 

When Parrish fumbles a punt the ball hits the leg of a hustling Dean Halverson and ricochets back into the Cincinnati end zone where Neal Craig falls on it, and Joe Sweet of the Rams falls on top of him for a safety. 
Joe Sweet scores a safety
Kenny Anderson is replaced by Virgil Carter, and on a flea-flicker play pitches a 25-yard strike to Trumpy in the endzone to narrow the lead. Horst M. kicks a 25-yard field goal and the Bengals begin to believe they can win this game on the road. 

A 12-10 lead, what are the odds that the score will be tied on the next scoring play? The Rams try the same flea-flicker Cincinnati did, but a fumbled exchange near the twelve-yard line has the ball bounding back into the Los Angeles endzone. Sherman White falls on top of Gabriel and we are tied at 12! Time is winding down and this game could wind up being a 12-12 tie? 
Gabriel falls on fumble in end zone for a Bengals safety

Paul Brown must have been in pain on the Bengal sideline since Horst has missed three fourth-quarter field goals, and all from very makeable distances of 21, 17, and 26 yards. 

The Bengal passing attack is guided by quarterback coach Bill Walsh, while the Rams passing attack is guided by Dick Vermeil. Roman Gabriel's sore arm has limited the air attack, and late in the game, he has completed just 8 of 22. Sure looks like Prothro is gonna play for a tie with less than a minute to play as Gabriel hands off to Ellison twice, and he punches through two nine-yard gains. 

Then the Roman of old puts the old mustard on the ball and completes a pass to Rentzel on a square in route. Away from the ball Bill Bergey clotheslines Bob Klein and the 15-yard penalty gives David Ray an opportunity to kick a 32-yard field goal with three seconds left----IT'S GOOD! 
David Ray kicks the game-winner at the gun
The Bengals managed to win four of eight to finish a winning season, but a third-place divisional finish behind the playoff-bound Browns and Steelers. The Atlanta Falcons are playing the best football in their history, and actually had a chance to win the division, but the resilient 49ers overcome both the Rams and Falcons to win the division for a third consecutive year. Prothro and his punting on third down is dismissed, and enter Chuck Knox and the blue & gold Rams of '73. 

Only four times since the merger have both the Rams and Bengals earned a playoff berth in the same season. Which years are those you ask? Why, 1973, 1975, 1988, and now 33 years later this memorable season. 
In closing, this past Sunday the 30th was a day to celebrate a Ram birthday, Mr. Nolan Cromwell. Though he will never be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, he remains for me the best athlete to ever put on a Ram uniform, and his 1980 season at free safety ranks with the greatest ever. There have been many safety tandems that displayed savvy, toughness, range, tackling ability, and of course the skills to intercept—Anderson and Scott were dynamic for the Dolphins in the early '70s, yet for me, if I had to pair two men to play together from the same era at the safety position that could be both strong and free...it would be Gary Fencik and Nolan Cromwell. So very fortunate to have seen them play against each other in the '80s.

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