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Infamy approaches

Bengals reach new depths with feeble passing numbers

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Posted: Wednesday November 15, 2000 10:16 PM

  Akili Smith Akili Smith and the Bengals are not exactly dominating the airwaves. Jonathan Daniel/Allsport

By Jacob Luft,

The Cincinnati Bengals' anemic passing attack is beginning to reach historic proportions.

Averaging a mere 126.0 yards passing per game through Week 11, Cincinnati is on pace to become the worst passing team since passing became a cool thing to do in the NFL (circa 1980).

The Bengals' per-game average is 98 yards less than the NFL average.

The team with the next-closest disparity was the 1984 Los Angeles Rams, who averaged 148.8 yards per game passing, 79.2 less than the league average of 228.

But at least those Rams had an excuse -- superstar tailback Eric Dickerson, who rushed for 2,105 yards and led them to the playoffs as a wild card.

End Zone is Where?
Fewest TD passes thrown in a 16-game regular season*
Yr  Team  TD 
1995  Bucs 
1998  Eagles 
1993  Bears 
1979  Bears 
1979  Chiefs 
1978  Chiefs 
1981  Saints 
1992  Seahawks 
1985  Bills 
1979  49ers 
1991  Cardinals  10 
1991  Colts  10 
1989  Steelers  10 
*The NFL switched to a 16-game regular season in 1978.

The Bengals are third in the NFL in rushing, thanks to Corey Dillon's efforts. But that hasn't helped them much in the win column.

Here are a few more notes regarding the Bengals and anemic passing attacks in NFL history:

  • Bengals starting quarterback Akili Smith has failed to reach 100 yards passing in six of his eight starts this season. With only two scoring passes, Cincinnati has a strong chance to set the record for fewest TD passes since the NFL went to a 16-game regular season (1978). The 1995 Tampa Bay Buccanners mustered a mere five touchdown passes despite throwing for a respectable 3,341 yards.

  • Weak passing attacks don't always mean a failed season. The 1982 Miami Dolphins went to Super Bowl XVII despite having the league's worst passing attack. Instead, they rushed for 1,344 yards in the strike-shortened season.

  • Until now, the 1993 Chicago Bears were the alpha and omega of terrible passing teams. The Bears' 2,270 net yards passing were doubled by the Dolphins' 4,564. Their seven TD passes were equally unimpressive.

  • The forward pass hasn't always been a valued weapon in the NFL. That's why, as bad as the Bengals are, they are in no danger of breaking the single-season record for fewest passing yards (302), set by the 1934 Chicago Cardinals. As recently as 1978, five teams averaged less than 150 yards passing per game.

    Vertically Challenged
    The Bengals are on pace to become the worst passing team since 1980.
    Yr  Team  Avg. Passing Yds  NFL Avg.  Diff. 
    2000  Bengals*  126   224  98  
    1993  Bears  141.8   215  73.2 
    1992  Bengals  142.8   205  62.2 
    1988  Patriots  145.8   218  72.2 
    1992  Seahawks  145   205  60 
    1984  Rams  148.8   228  79.2 
    1999  Eagles  150.3   228  77.7 
    1998  Eagles  150.8   207  56.2 
    1982  Dolphins  155.7   221  65.3 
    1994  Colts  157.4   227  69.6 
    *Bengals stats are through 10 games this season.

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