In a new feature here at the blogolumn, I will be doing one of those fancy running diaries. However, it won’t be for a current sports event or draft; it will be for an NFL regular season game from September 20, 1992. It features the Cincinnati Bengals hosted by the Green Bay Packers. It is notable (SPOILER ALERT!) for being Brett Favre’s first comeback victory. In light of recent events, it feels quite appropriate to look back at the start of the Favre-era in Green Bay. On a side note, I didn’t see this game when it first aired despite already being a fan of the Packers, since I was out of market. All I saw where the updates of Majkowski getting injured and the TD to end the game.
A little background info before starting. The Bengals were a team that did quite well in the 80’s, making 2 Super Bowls appearances. In 1990, they made the playoffs but lost to Bo Jackson’s Raiders in the conference semi-finals. In 1991, they went 3-13 and fired their coach, Sam Wyche. Their search for a new head coach came down to Dave Shula and Bill Cowher. They hired Shula and went to have one of the worst decades in sports history. They did however start the Shula-era 2-0 in 1992.
The Packers coming into 1992 had only made the playoffs twice in the last 24 seasons, only winning one playoff game in that span (during a strike shorten season, no less). They had just hired a new coach, Mike Holmgren, and GM, Ron Wolf. They came into this game 0-2 and were destroyed the previous week by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
And here is the opening kickoff:
Calling the game is boxing’s Jim Lampley and NBA Inside Stuff’s Ahmad Rashad. Its on NBC, who I am now very glad eventually lost their NFL coverage rights to FOX if they were seriously using a boxing announcer and Claire Huckstable’s real life husband to call games.
Bengals rip off a big run to start after a touchback on the kickoff. Bengals start some rookie named Carl Pickens at WR. Ahmad notes that Boomer Esiason is “the best faking QB in the NFL”. I guess the term “play action” wasn’t a household term yet.
The Packers D features no significant stars, but does feature a young safety named Leroy Butler, and another safety named Chuck Cecil, who was infamous for cheap shots and getting fined for said cheap shots.
Last week the Packer’s D apparently made “Vinny Testaverde look like Sammy Baugh”. Talk about an outdated reference even for 1992.
Bengals were chewing up chunks of yardage until Harold Green fumbled rather easily on your basic tackle. Should have at least had a field goal out of that drive.
Pack takes over. They start a RT named Tootie Robbins. Awesome. They start a former Pro Bowl QB named Majkowski, aka “The Magic Man”, a RB named Workman (more on him later), a FB named Buford (nothing more on him later), Sterling Sharpe at WR, another WR named Sonjay (maybe the weirdest collection of names on one offense ever? Tootie, Buford, Sterling, Sanjay), and TE Ed “The Tool Box” West. Buford is starting for Harry Sidney, which sounds about right based on my Tecmo Super Bowl roster knowledge.
Of the Bengals D, the only name I recognize is Tim Krumrie. He is apparently from Wisconsin, and Ahmad can’t pronounce his name.
First play for the Pack, sweep left and Workman is almost murdered on the tackle. 3 and out for the Pack, and here comes there punter who is nicknamed “Hang Time”. He punts it into the endzone.
Unfortunately, since this game is a replay on NFL Network, we get regular modern day commercials (starting with Bowflex), rather than some retro 1992 commercials which is what they really should include.
AND WE’RE BACK with a look at first round pick Terrell Buckley. He was the last first round pick to sign according to Lampley. First down and some more great faking from Boomer. We get a glimpse at some in progress scores from around the league in 1992. Meanwhile, Johnny Holland horse collar tackles Harold Green, back when horse collar tackles didn’t have a name and weren’t penalized. Packers drop an easy interception that could have gone back for a TD. Time to punt and Buckley gets onto the field for the first time in his career. He has nicknamed himself the ‘new Jim Thorpe’. He gets a few yards and then gets blasted, not so Thorpe-esque there Terrell.
The Magic Man not looking comfortable in the new west coast offense, then he gets sacked and Tim Krumrie lands on his ankle. He is hurt, and Tim Krumrie deserves an honorary Super Bowl ring from 1996, because here comes Brett Favre. Well, after they get the ball back he will make an appearance, because its fourth down and that means here comes “Hang Time”. From now on, I am calling 4th down “Hang Time”.
Johnny Holland picks off a tipped Boomer pass. He actually fumbled it while being tackled but no instant replay means here comes Favre. Smartly, he does what the Magic Man couldn’t figure out, throw the ball to Sterling Sharpe. Farve was already being called a ‘gunslinger’ by Ahmad. Workman has a couple nice runs, and lets discuss this guy. He was the most appropriately named RB in league history. He could get you 1000 yards in a season, but in 16 games that’s less than 70 yards per game, which is not that great. If there was a hole, he would find it and get you a few yards, but lacked breakaway speed and seemed to always get tackled by the first guy with a clean shot at him. He seemed like a good RB to have, until you replaced him with someone else and realized that he wasn’t anything more than an average workman type player. Right on cue, Krumie strips Workman to stall out the promising drive. Onto to try the FG from 32 yards from the right hash is Jacke and he misses it wide left by a mile. Still tied at 0.
A holding penalty negates a huge play, and on the next play Boomer throws in directly to Johnny Holland. That’s three turnovers for the Bengals, two picks by Holland, and one forced fumbled by Holland.
Favre takes a shot at the end zone that sails 20 yards over Sharpe’s head. Sharpe stops before the ball even hits the ground to complain about being held by the defender (is he the one who started that?). Favre fumbles the snap on the next play and Krumie recovers. So, at the end of the 1st quarter our score: Bengals 0, Packers 0, Krumrie 3 (two forced fumbles and one QB’s career ended), Holland 3 (see above).
Ahmad’s words of wisdom – “There are few quarterbacks in the league where interceptions don’t bother them at all. And that’s the way you gotta be. You throw an interception, you have to come right back and throw it again.”
Lampley thinks the reason for the Packers bad record at home in the 6 years leading upto this game is that they get use to playing at Lambeau while it is special for opposing teams. I think its because their team was mostly awful, and the fact that they had a 20 game win streak in Lambeau during the mid-90’s proves my hypothesis.
Bengals cruise down the field again, we find out they call their offense when they bring in big backup RB Derrick Fenner, “Hammer Time”. Hammer Time fails to get the ball into the end zone on 3 carries inside the 5 yard line. So, Bengal’s kicker Jim Breach tries his best to miss a 20 yard field goal, but it squeezes through. Bengals take a 3-0 lead.
Robert Brooks makes an appearance on the kick return. Favre opens the drive by throwing to Sterling in triple coverage. Shockingly incomplete. Workman is getting ‘overworked’ according to Ahmad, so the Pack bring in Edgar Bennett and it seems like their entire Super Bowl team was on the bench to start the 92 season. Hang time is on to punt, and Pickens takes the return from the 6 and makes one of the best punt returns you will ever see. He went right, broke three tackles, cut all the way across the field, slowed down to let one tackler almost catch up with him and then tauntingly hit the speed burst button to cruise into the end zone. WOW! Bengals 10 Packers 0.
Packers slowly moving the ball, convert a 4th and 1 on the Bengals 40, but then go backwards and here comes Hang Time. Bengals decide they don’t want a 10 point half time lead, and rough the kicker. Favre gets booed after he tries to call a timeout that he is not allowed to call and then gets back up under center, almost trips on the exchange, and fires the ball out of the back of the endzone on 3rd down. Jacke hits the field goal to follow. Bengals 10 Packers 3.
Jacke follows that up by kicking the ball out of bounds to give the Bengals the ball at the 35 with 36 seconds and 3 timeouts. They pick up 10 yards on 1st down and call a quick timeout. Then for some reason they decide to hand the ball off again. No gain. Then they let the clock expire rather than try to gain 20 yards to get in range for a long field goal. Curious.
Half time. Bengals 10 Packers 3.
We are back, and we learn that Majkowski hasn’t been able to stay healthy since 1989. A fact I know all to well from many failed Tecmo simulated seasons that were destroyed by him getting injured and Anthony Dilweg taking over to lead the team to a 7-9 finish. 3 and 7 on the first drive and Favre shows us a glimpse of his future. He spins of a unblocked passrusher and throws across his body to the fullback for a 1st down. Sonjay Beach stalls out the drive due to not being able to jump to catch a would-be touchdown, and yes his name was seriously Sonjay Beach. Jacke misses another field goal, this time wide right.
Boomer throws what should have been another interception, but it hit Terrell “The New Jim Thorpe” Buckley right in the hands and he can’t hold on.
They bust out a quick comparison graphic between Esiason and Favre so far. Not so good Boomer when a guy seeing his first significant action and is throwing the ball over everyone’s head is outplaying you by a large margin. On the plus side, Boomer’s flowing blond locks are looking glorious today.
In motivation news, we find out Krumrie was passed up by his home-state Packers in the 10th round of draft in favor of a basketball player named Tim Thomas.
After a Bengals punt, Favre get shelled on a blitz and the Bengals have the ball inside the Packer’s 30 as we near the end of a not-so-eventful 3rd quarter. Boomer throws a nice pass for a 19 yard TD, which Ahmad informs us is his longest completion of the year (not a good sign for your season in the long run when your longest completion through 3 weeks is 19 yards). Bengals 17 Packers 3.
Favre fumbles twice more on the next drive, but the Packers recover both and we get another visit from Hang Time to start the 4th quarter, and another punt into the end zone. Next drive doesn’t go anywhere for the Bengals because their scheme of trying to send their slow, white, possession WR deep on Buckley who’s main asset is speed somehow ends in an incompletion. That leads to a Buckley 58 yard punt return TD in which he held the ball in one hand over his head and high stepped for the last 30 yards. Bengals 17 Packers 10.
Apparently, David Shula’s strength is “organization skills” which is nice because we know now that coaching wasn’t. Tony Bennett spears Boomer in the chest and he is layed out.
Unfortunately for the Bengals they don’t have a Brett Favre on the bench, they have a Don Hollas and a legendary draft bust David Klingler. For that reason, Boomer comes back in after one play out. There is a shot of a ball-boy wearing green and gold zubaz, and I continue to wait for the return of zubaz. I assume its imminent as I saw someone rockin’ a flat top earlier this week. Cereal.
Bengals end up deep in Packers territory with a 7 point lead almost halfway through the 4th quarter. On 4th and 1, Shula makes the smart decision and takes the field goal. Bengals 20 Packers 10 (remember those 10 came on a punt return TD and a field goal set up by a roughing the punter penalty) 8 minutes left.
Favre leads a quick drive right back down the field, capped off by Sharpe carrying 3 Bengals into the endzone for a TD. Bengals 20 Packers 17 with 4 minutes remaining.
Bengals end up punting. Of note on the drive, Danny Noonan makes his debut for the Packers (Not the famous Bushwood caddy who helped Ty Wood and Al Czervik defeat Judge Smails), and LeRoy Butler almost murders one of the Bengals on one of those swing passes to the fullback that NEVER works. Buckley tries to make something happen on the return and gets stripped. Bengals recover inside the Packers 35 with 3 minutes left and the Packers with only 2 timeouts remaining.
Bengals pick up a first down and get both timeouts from the Packers in the process. 2:53 remaining. Two more runs and 5 more yards for Hammer Time Derrick Fenners has us at the 2 minute warning. 3rd and 5 for Cincy on the Packers’ 20. Hand off to the right in another shockingly smart call from Shula. Breach misses a huge field goal, but gets bailed out on a false start call, so Breach gets a mulligan and makes it. Bengals 23 Packers 17 with 67 seconds remaining.
Bengals try to kick the ball out of bounds on the kickoff to help the Packers out, but rookie Robert Brooks decides to catch the ball while going out of bounds at the 7 yard line. They need to go 93 yards in 67 seconds with no timeouts. After a small gain, the Bengals, using a cover 2 defense with the CB turning Sharpe loose and the safety arriving late, let Sharpe lose down the sideline in their secondary for a HUGE gain. Another quick pass to Workman takes them inside the Bengals 40 with 19 seconds left and Sharpe is seriously hurt. Kitrick Taylor replaces him and promptly receives a rocket throw from Favre for the game tying TD. Basically, the same exact play that the used to get down the field on the pass to Sharpe. Jacke hits the PAT and Favre is running around with his helmet off like its the Super Bowl. Bengals 23 Packers 24 with 13 seconds remaining.
Game ends as Boomer fails to get a hail mary to the end zone, and the Favre-era begins. Who better than the Bengals to kickstart a legendary career. And everything will come full-circle when Favre is the starting QB for the Bengals in 2013.