Cincinnati BengalsBased in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Cincinnati Bengals are an American professional football team in the AFC of the NFL. Established as an expansion team in the AFL in 1968, the Bengals were soon merged into the NFL in 1970. Paul Brown, a revered figure in football, was a founding member and the first head coach.
The 1970sThe Bengals’ first year in the NFL was marked by their first winning record and an AFC Central championship. It was in 1972 that Ken Anderson, a young quarterback, took control of the offense and set various franchise passing records. Although the Bengals made two additional playoff appearances in the ’70s, they were defeated in their first contests each time.
Changing TimesPaul Brown stepped down as head coach after 1975 but continued as president until his passing in 1991. In 1980, he made a significant move by drafting tackle Anthony Muñoz, who is regarded as one of football’s best offensive linemen. He played a crucial role in the Bengals’ success over 13 seasons.
The ’80s Glory DaysIn 1981, the Bengals posted 12 regular-season wins and two postseason victories, advancing to Super Bowl XVI, where the San Francisco 49ers defeated them. In 1984, Sam Wyche became head coach, and in 1988, Boomer Esiason led the team to a second Super Bowl appearance, only to lose again to the 49ers.
The 1990s StrugglesThe 1990s were tough for the Bengals, who became known as one of the worst franchises in North American professional sports. They lost more games than any other NFL team during this decade and faced poor draft choices. Despite the presence of Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon, the team consistently lost, marking 14 years without a winning record.
Moving to Paul Brown StadiumIn 2000, a major shift occurred when the team moved to Paul Brown Stadium, a football-specific venue.
Rise of Palmer and Johnson2005 saw the end of the Bengals’ 14-year postseason drought, thanks to quarterback Carson Palmer and wide receiver Chad Johnson. The team captured a division title but lost in the playoffs. Despite achieving a franchise-first streak of playoff qualifications from 2011 to 2015, the Bengals lost their opening game each time.
Recent YearsA series of losing seasons culminated in 2019 with a 2–14 finish. This led to the top pick in the 2020 NFL draft, where the Bengals selected quarterback Joe Burrow. Though his promising rookie season was cut short by injury, Burrow returned with rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase to win 10 games and a division title in 2021.
Back to the Super BowlThe postseason of 2021 was historic for Cincinnati, with three narrow victories leading to the franchise’s third Super Bowl appearance. However, the Bengals were defeated by the Los Angeles Rams in a closely contested game.
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