Ken Houston's record-setting 1971 season
|Photo Gallery: Ken Houston's record setting INT return. Click on image above to launch gallery.|
In 1971 Ken Houston became the first player, and today remains one of just three defenders, in NFL history to return four interceptions for touchdowns in the same season. Jim Kearny of the Kansas City Chiefs (1972) and the Philadelphia Eagles’ Eric Allen (1993) are the others.
Houston’s interceptions that he returned for touchdowns that season were pivotal moments in three of the Oilers four wins that year. He set the season record in the final week of the regular season in a game against the Chargers. In doing so, he also established a career mark for interception touchdowns eclipsing the record of seven that he had shared with fellow Hall of Famer Herb Adderley and the Cleveland Browns Erich Barnes.
Houston’s career record was later broken by Class of 2009 inductee Rod Woodson who returned 12 interceptions for TDs during his Hall of Fame career.
The jersey Houston wore during his record-setting 1971 season was donated to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. [CLICK HERE TO SEE THE JERSEY]
Houston’s INTs for TDs fuel Oilers wins in ‘71
Week 7 (Oct. 31) vs. Cincinnati Bengals – His 48-yard return in the third quarter was the only touchdown of the game as the Oilers defeated the Bengals, 10-6. Victim: Ken Anderson
Week 13 (Dec. 12) at Buffalo Bills – Houston’s 17-yard return put the Oilers ahead 13-0 in the third quarter. Houston won the game, 20-14. Victim: Dennis Shaw
Week 14 (Dec. 19) vs. San Diego Chargers – Despite receiving a cut on his cheek that required six stitches, Houston endured. Two plays after he returned to the game, he picked off a pass and raced 35 yards for the score. He then intercepted the first throw after the ensuing kickoff and returned that one 29 yards for his second interception touchdown, the game-winner, in a 34-second span. The Oilers downed the Chargers, 49-33. Victim: John Hadl