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Bengals' Anderson, the passing machine

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Quarterback Ken Anderson, the 6 ft., 3 in. ignition key the Cincinnati Bengals hope will turn them on against San Francisco in Sunday's Super Bowl, is the kind of pro athlete you wouldn't mind having in for dinner with your family.

You wouldn't have to tell Anderson which is the salad fork and which is the dessert fork. You could discuss world affairs or how to compute the density of an object and probably discover that your guest is smarter than you are. Or you could simply ask what date in February Ken is scheduled to take his bar exam to practice law in Ohio.

Anderson, who got his start as a quarterback at tiny Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., may be the best argument going that you don't have to go to a factory-type school to make it big in the National Football League.

People who watched Anderson complete 22 of 24 passes against the Pittsburgh Steelers (in 1974, with the Steelers going on to the Super Bowl) still can't believe what they saw.

Yet despite numerous unforgettable moments like this, Ken is still a low-profile, high-performance athlete who is perhaps the most precise passing machine in pro football.

During the regular season he threw for 3,754 yards and 29 touchdowns. In fact , he finished with the highest completion percentage (62.6) in the American Conference and the lowest interception rate (2.1 percent) among all QBs.

Yet Anderson didn't start the current season (his 11th in the NFL) as if it was going to be his best. He got benched by head coach Forrest Gregg in the Bengals' season opener against the Seattle Seahawks after only one period. Ken completed seven passes - two to the wrong team.

Additional clouds appeared on the horizon when Turk Schonert, the quarterback who replaced Anderson, helped engineer a come-from-behind win against Seattle.


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