Whenever a diehard Cincinnati Bengals’ fan talks about the San Diego (now Los Angeles) Chargers, one game in particular comes to mind.
The date was January 10, 1982, and the two teams engaged in the coldest game in NFL history.
With a temperature of nine degrees below zero at kickoff, and a wind chill factor of minus 59 degrees, the Bengals dominated the Chargers by a score of 27-7 in a game that has come to be known as the “Freezer Bowl.”
Despite the cold, Cincinnati quarterback Ken Anderson completed 14 of 22 passes for 161 yards and was the team’s second-leading rusher. Anderson would go later receive both the NFL Most Valuable Player and Comeback Player of the Year honors for the 1981 season.
“You would have thought it was a spring afternoon,” former Cincinnati receiver Cris Collinsworth recalled of Anderson’s play. “It was one of the single greatest performances by a quarterback in the history of the NFL.”
That game would mark the 15th meeting between the two teams, and the Chargers owned a slim 8-7 advantage at the time. Since then, however, the Bengals have dropped 14 of the last 22 games, including last year’s 16-13 nail-biter that marked the first game of the NFL career of Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow.
Both teams have had their ups and downs this year. The Bengals started hot with a 5-2 mark before dropping two games in a row, to the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns.
Cincinnati, which trails the Baltimore Ravens by a game in the battle for supremacy in the AFC North, has come out of its bye week with two straight victories, and boast one of the top offenses, defenses and special teams in the league.
Los Angeles jumped out to a 4-1 start, including a 47-42 win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 5. But losses in four of their next six games has the Chargers at 6-5 and one game behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the race for the AFC West crown.
The Chargers boast a top-ten offense and are one slot behind the Bengals in the overall defensive standings. Cincinnati, on the strength of its home-field advantage, opened as a slight three-point favorite.
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