UPDATE: It’s official – Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals are headed back to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1988 season after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 in an overtime thriller in the AFC Championship Game.
This year’s Cincinnati Bengals squad is already one of the most successful in franchise history and has turned the tables on the team’s recent reputation of playoff failures.
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Cincinnati hadn’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season entering this NFL postseason, but it wasn’t for a complete lack of attempts. The Bengals made the playoffs seven times between the 2005 and 2015 NFL seasons, but each time fell in the Wild Card round.
But now Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Zac Taylor and the rest have flipped that misfortune on its head. Cincinnati defeated the Las Vegas Raiders 26-19 in the Wild Card round before dramatically upending the AFC No. 1-seeded Tennessee Titans 19-16 to advance to the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium Sunday afternoon.
There, the Bengals will have the chance to earn an unprecedented level of accomplishment in their team’s history.
When was the Bengals’ last Super Bowl appearance?
Cincinnati’s last Super Bowl appearance came in the 1988 season against the San Francisco 49ers. The Bengals took down the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills en route to the Big Game.
The first half was a rock fight that ended at 3-3, but the Bengals took a 13-6 lead in the third quarter on Stanford Jennings’ 93-yard kickoff return touchdown. From there, though, Joe Montana engineered two touchdown drives, including the game-winning 10-yard scoring pass to John Taylor with 39 seconds remaining.
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Before this 2021 season, Cincinnati had won just one playoff game since that heart-breaking loss.
When was the Bengals’ last Super Bowl win?
Cincinnati is the only team of the conference finalists that has not won a Super Bowl. Their only other appearance came in the 1981 season, also against Joe Montana and the 49ers.
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San Francisco built a 20-0 halftime lead with the help of three Bengals turnovers, and despite a five-reception, 107-yard effort from now-NBC announcer Cris Collinsworth, Cincinnati was unable to claw its way back in. Montana and Co. won the franchise’s first of five Super Bowl titles by a score of 26-21.
The Bengals played just two seasons in the AFL before joining the NFL in 1970, so they have no league championships of any kind to their name. That makes this year’s opportunity even more significant for the team.
Bengals Super Bowl history
- 1988 season: Lost Super Bowl XXIII vs. the San Francisco 49ers, 20-16
- 1981 season: Lost Super Bowl XVI vs. the San Francisco 49ers, 26-21