• Sal Maiorana

Flipper Anderson, not Jerry Rice, holds this NFL record

NEW ORLEANS (Nov. 26, 1989) - In the film room on Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after he had set the all-time NFL record for most receiving yards in a game with 336, Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Flipper Anderson got yelled at.

That’s right; his position coach, Ernie Zampese, didn’t like the way Anderson ran some of his routes in the Rams’ 20-17 overtime victory over the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome. Coaches; they’re never happy.

“I’m serious,” Anderson said. “The coaches kind of chewed me out for it. I was supposed to push deeper up the field. (Quarterback Jim) Everett and I, it was like we were playing street ball. I was just getting open and he was hitting me.”

Anderson caught 15 passes in the game, one of them a 15-yard touchdown reception with 1:02 remaining that tied the score at 17-17 and forced the extra period.

Anderson had a nice first half, catching four passes for 85 yards, and then Everett began to really hone in on him in the second half, and with 4:40 left to play, the Rams took possession down 17-3 and needing something to happen, and Anderson provided the spark. He caught a 46-yard pass, his second-longest of the game behind a 50-yarder in the third quarter, and that set up a five-yard touchdown run by Buford McGee with 2:46 to go.

After a three-and-out by the Saints and a short punt, the Rams were set up at the New Orleans 40 for their tying drive, though things weren’t looking too good when a sack and two penalties had them buried in a second-and-32 situation. But Anderson made a 26-yard reception, and after Pete Holohan caught a seven-yard pass to convert the third down, Anderson made back-to-back catches of 14 and 15 yards to get the ball into the end zone.

Highlights from Flipper Anderson's historic game.

Los Angeles almost won in regulation as the Saints went three-and-out again, and Anderson’s 24-yard catch gave kicker Mike Lansford the chance to kick a winning 52-yard field goal, but he was wide left. In the overtime, the Rams defense held on the first possession, and Everett – who passed for a career-best 454 yards - directed a 71-yard drive to Lansford’s winning 31-yard field goal.

Naturally, Anderson was huge as he drew a 35-yard pass interference penalty, and made catches of 14 and 26 yards. “Amazing, unbelievable,” Everett said of Anderson’s performance. “I can’t explain it. I knew he was going to catch everything I threw up there. It was Flip’s day.”

Earlier in the year, Anderson caught a 78-yard touchdown pass with 1:22 remaining to give the Rams a 20-16 lead over the Bills in a Monday night game at Rich Stadium. But Frank Reich, playing in place of injured Jim Kelly, rallied the Bills to the victory when he hit Andre Reed for an eight-yard TD with 16 seconds left for a 23-20 Buffalo victory.

Anderson remembered that night in Buffalo, and another game in Minnesota where the Rams took a late lead, only to lose. “Me and Aaron (Cox) celebrated early in Buffalo,” Anderson said. “We celebrated in Minnesota. This time, we have a big high-five after the game. Everybody’s been calling and saying, ‘Do you know what you did? You did more than (Jerry) Rice! You did more than Swann!’”

To this day, none of the great receivers have surpassed, though Detroit’s Calvin Johnson came awfully close when he totaled 329 yards in a 2013 game against the Cowboys.

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