For the past three decades, the Bengals and I have amassed the same number of playoff wins. You have to go back to 1990 to find the last time they were able to get it done after week 17. It’s been a bit of a tough existence for them, but perhaps things are starting to turn around.
Cincy has had a number of great players come through the organization. But the last time they won… I wasn’t even alive yet. LeBron James was seven years old. And Brett Favre was just a rookie backup for the Atlanta Falcons.
Andy Dalton helped lead the team to the playoffs every year from 2011-2015. They should have beaten Pittsburgh in 2016, but silly penalties cost them that chance in the backend of the fourth quarter.
Let’s re-live the last postseason win, in anticipation of Joe Burrow ending this drought within the next few seasons.
The Circumstances Surrounding their 1988 Super Bowl Trip
In 1988, the Bengals had a terrific season. Not only did they win their division with a 12-4 record, but they went all the way to the Super Bowl. With wins over Seattle and Buffalo, they were able to find their way into the big game. Ickey Woods ran for over 1,000 yards and scored 15 TD’s in his rookie campaign,
James Brooks added another 931 yards and eight scores. Boomer Esiason was slinging the ball well. And their defense was very good. But, they ran into the 49ers, and in the final game and took a 20-16 loss. Joe Montana led a 2:56 TD drive and guided his squad to a score with just 34 seconds left. That was that.
Two years later, they went 9-7 and clinched a home playoff game. And, here we are.
A Battle Against Houston
Waiting on the other side were the Houston Oilers, who were also 9-7 in the regular season. They had Cody Carlson at QB and a run game didn’t look so good that day. They had 13 attempts for just 67 yards, the offense garnering barely over 200 for the game. The Cincy defense was very good.
Boomer was still QB’ing this team, and he did just what he needed to. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 150 yards and two scores. He also led the way with 57 rushing yards (on five attempts) and added another TD. Ickey Woods and Eric Ball also punched it in once.
The Bengals D was able to force Carlson into three turnovers. They picked him off once and jarred it free twice, leading to a pair of fumbles lost. By the time Ernest Givins crossed the plane late in the third quarter for the Oilers first points, they had already allowed 34.
Everything was going right for Cincy, who employed a simple ground-and-pound attack for much of the ballgame. They ran it 44 times for 187 yards. Three different players punched it in.
The game ended with a 41-14 Bengals win. On to round two!
The L.A. Raiders were the Bengals next opponent. And they just could not slow them down. Marcus Allen had 21 rushes for 140 yards. Bo Jackson added another six carries for 77 yards. They controlled tempo, and wound up with a 20-10 win over the Bengals.
Cincy picked up just 12 first downs, and got outgained 389-182. It wasn’t meant to be.
It would take all the way until 2005 for the team to make the playoffs again. This marked the only time they made it with Carson Palmer, the #1 overall pick in 2004 at the helm. Palmer actually got hurt after throwing only one pass, and the former starter Jon Kitna had to take over.
He completed 24 of 40 passes for 197 yards, with a TD and two INT’s. Rudi Johnson had a rushing TD. But their defense could do nothing. Cincy led 17-7 at one point in the first half, but then allowed their opponents to score the game’s final 24.
Andy Dalton guided them to the playoffs every year from 2011-2015. And each time, they fell short, for one reason or another.
Six consecutive empty playoff trips. But, the drought will end soon. Joe Burrow is going to be the QB who takes them back to at least round two. Book it.
THANK YOU FOR READING!
After a 3-1 start in 2021, things may finally be looking promising for Cincy again. After 30 years without a playoff win, maybe they can get things right.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Though I’m a Ravens fan, even I want to see them snap this drought. It’s been brutal. Cheering for Joey B and the gang.