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A Bengal playoff retrospective

As stated in a previous column I said the Cincinnati Bengals were for real and they proved me correct by winning the AFC North this past weekend, and by finishing a perfect 6-0 in division play this season.
     Now besides a game with the New Your Jets in the final week of the regular season, the playoffs await the black-striped team from Ohio, and with how the NFL season has panned out who knows what will happen in the postseason.
       I guess that is why they play the games.
      This season they have swept the defending Super Bowl champions, lost to a team that is a shell of its former self in Oakland, routed by the team from Texas who won’t be playing in the postseason (Houston) and plucked the feathers of one of their fieriest rivals, not once, but twice.
      They beat teams they should have in the Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns (twice), Chicago Bears and the Kansas City Chiefs.
     This year the Bengals were struck by a lightning bolt in a West Coast loss to the San Diego Chargers (last second field goal), but went to Lambeau Field in Green Bay during the second week of the season and defeated what became one of the top defenses in the Green Bay Packers 31-24.
       In week one Cincinnati lost  to the Broncos via the luckiest catch of the season when Brandon Stockley caught a deflected pass for and ran for a  touchdown with no time left in regulation for the win.
    The Bengals only lost two consecutive games on one occasion, both against playoff bound teams in Minnesota and San Diego.
      But before the Bengals take the field for their newest playoff game, I thought it would be fun to look back at the history of the Cincinnati Bengals’ postseason adventures. Their highs and lows, as they have not played in the postseason since Jan. ’05, taking part in 13 playoff games, including two Super Bowls in 39 years.
       In ’70 the Bengals had a regular season record of 8-6 and they were the AFC Central champions.
    Their first playoff game as a member of the NFL was a 17-0 loss to the Baltimore Colts, with future Bengal head coach Sam Wyche completing his one and only pass attempt for 29 yards as a member of the Bengals. Starting QB Virgil Carter passed for 64 yards on seven competitions. The Bengals had just seven first downs and gained a total of 139 net yards on offense, while allowing 299 yards.
    Fun fact: This was the first season for the Bengals as a member of the NFL. They started the season 1-6 but won their last seven games to make the playoffs. Future Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas, with his trademark black high tops, passed for 145 yards and two touchdowns in the AFC Divisional playoff game for the Colts held on Dec. 26.
      Cincinnati didn’t fare much better in their next two playoff appearances losing to the Miami Dolphins in ’73 and to the Oakland Raiders in ’75. The leading rusher against the Raiders for the Bengals was Boobie Clark with 46 of the 97 total rushing yards.
    Fun fact: Another future Bengal coach, Bruce Coslet, played for Cincinnati in ’75. Against the Raiders he caught two passes for 14 yards. His 14 yards were more yards than any Bengals team he coached in the ‘90s had in the playoffs (no playoff appearances). Coslet’s head coaching record in Cincinnati from 1996-00: 21-39, having two seven-win seasons. Note: Coslet took over in ’96 after the Dave Shula was let go. At Shula’s departure the Bengals were 1-6.
     The Bengals finally celebrated their first NFL playoff win after beating the Buffalo Bills 28-21 on Jan. 3, 1982 (’81 season) at Riverfront Stadium.
   It was a big year for the Bengals after finishing 12-4 in the regular season under head coach Forrest Gregg. The following week the Bengals won their first AFC title with a 27-7 win over the San Diego Chargers in what is called “The Freezer Bowl.” (Must have been a cold winter in Ohio.)
    (Not so) Fun fact: Bengals defensive end Eddie Edwards suffered a frostbitten right ear in the game. (I am serious!)
     The Bengals lost to the San Francisco 49ers as that Super Bowl started the legend of Joe Montana. The 49ers reached Super Bowl XVI with the play named “The Catch” as Montana found Dwight Clark in the corner of the end zone for the game-winning touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys.
      The following season Cincy lost to the New York (J-E-T-S) Jets, Jets, Jets in the divisional round.
    Fun fact: Archie Griffin played for the Bengals vs. the Jets, rushing for 17 yards on three carries. Entering the game, the Bengals had the No. 3 rushing defense in the NFL. The Jets gained 234 yards rushing.
      Six years later the Bengals reached the playoffs and Super Bowl again, defeating the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills. Playing the 49ers in the Super Bowl and facing Joe Montana, again, the result was the same: losing the Vince Lombardi trophy to San Fran with a comeback by Montana.
       Fun fact: Ickey Woods led all rushers with 79 yards. (This might have been the last time anyone ever spotted Mr. Ickey Shuffle in an NFL game.)
     Extra fun fact: On the game-winning drive Montana was so cool; he spotted John Candy in the stands and told his offensive huddle about it, on the game-winning drive! (John Candy was the ‘80s version of Chris Farley, at least in the weight category. Farley was funnier.)
     OK, I was wrong. Ickey shuffled his way into the ’90 playoffs for the Bengals as they beat the Houston Oilers 41-14, and then lost to the L.A. Raiders 20-10. Then he disappeared off the face of the earth.
   (Not so) Fun fact: The Raiders game was the game the NFL career of Bo Jackson ended. “Bo Knows” finished with 77 yards on six carries.
    Fun fact: The rout of the Oilers on Jan. 6, 1991 was the last playoff win for the Bengals.
     From the 91-04 the Bengals transformed into the Bungals, compiling Detroit Lion stats of the decade. They lost Boomer (he came back, but not as the same Boomer), drafted David Klingler (‘92), John Copeland (‘93), Dan Wilkerson (‘94), Ki-Jana Carter (‘95), Akili Smith (‘99), Peter Warrick (‘00), Chris Perry (‘04) all in the first round. Umm, yeah good solid choices.
       Made the perfect draft pick in ’03 in Carson Palmer. Things turned around, and the Bungals became the Bengals in ’05. Won AFC North, lost to eventual Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers in Wild Card round, as Palmer was injured. The team finally regrouped this year, lost teammate Chris Henry in tragic accident.
Dedicated remainder of season to fallen teammate.
     So in a quick lesson we now are informed on the ups and downs of the history of the Bengals and the thing called the NFL playoffs.
     Only one thing left to say: Who Dey? Who Dey think gonna beat dem Bengals?
     My guess: the San Diego Chargers.

     Stephen Forsha is the sports editor of The Highland County Press.[[In-content Ad]]

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