Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Top Ten Wins

10.  The 2013 home victory over the Vikings, 42-14.  As my friend Josh would say, why you always troll the Vikings?

I don't.  But this was a great game.  Especially after the debacle that was the last time we played the Vikings in 2009 in Minnesota.

The highlight of this game for me was Gio Bernard's huge catch and run on a little dump pass.  One of the best plays of that year!

9.  The 1995 27-9 victory over the Steelers - in Pittsburgh - over the Steelers.  Thought the Bengals came in at 2-4 (and the Steelers would rebound after this loss and make a run to the Super Bowl), they hit took the field by storm for this Thursday night game and never let up.  Jeff Blake's deep ball talents were on display as he finished the game with a perfect quarterback rating.  This game typified what was so great (one of the very few things that were even good about these Bengals teams in the 1990s) about the Bengals' offense: they could throw the ball all over the field.  Blake would go on to make the Pro Bowl and Carl Pickens would go on to catch 17 touch down passes and Darnay Scott would emerge as a serious deep threat (though his hands were always questionable) and Tony McGhee was always a decent tight end threat.  If they just would have had some coaching and a defense, this team could have made the playoffs.

8. The 2012 victory over the Steelers - in Pittsburgh - to guarantee a playoff birth, and, best of all, to knock the Steelers out of the playoffs.

The Bengals sat at 8-6.  So did the Steelers.  The winner would secure a Wild Card spot in the playoffs.  And though the Bengals couldn't must anything on the ground and little threw the air, they pulled off a gutty 13-10 win on the road.

The highlight of the game was Big Ben launching a deep pass late in the game that was picked off by his nemesis, Reggie Nelson, and returned into Steelers territory.  Thanks to a connection on a beautiful deep out pattern by AJ Green, the Bengals drove in to field goal position where Mike Nugent sealed the win.  Where was Nugent back in 2006 when we needed him?

7.  The 2004 come from behind victory over the Ravens at Baltimore 27-26.  This proved Carson Palmer was legit.

The Bengals were 5-6 under a struggling Carson Palmer, who was in his first year starting at quarterback for Cincinnati.  Though he did through an interception that was returned for a TD, he did rally the Bengals to pull out a one point victory against that vaunted Ravens defense.  All Palmer did was light the Ravens up for 24 fourth quarter points.  Palmer used his two big weapons - Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmandzadeh to drive the final 60 yards in 7 plays with under 1:42 to set up the wining FG.

This set the stage for what was a Pro Bowl year and a division championship year in 2005 for Palmer.

6.  The 2015 28-24 come-from behind road victory over the Ravens.

The Bengals jumped all over the Ravens before Steve Smith exploded.  The Bengals trailed 14-17 in the 4th quarter.  It was the first time they trailed all year despite this being their third game.  They trailed for all of 8 seconds.  Thanks to the amazing AJ Green.

This left the Bengals 3-0 and helped propel them to their 8-0 start last year.

5. The 2015 27-24 overtime home victory over the Seattle Seahawks where the Bengals erased a 17 point fourth quarter deficit.

This game had it all.  AJ Green going off on the Seattle secondary.  Andy Dalton finally coming up big in a critical situation. And it had my favorite play of the entire year - Mike Nugget's last second field goal to send the game into OT.  Dalton drove the Bengals down the filed to get them in position to go ahead with a touch down.  But he was hit on a scramble and brought down for a minimal game. This is usually no big deal.  However, Cincy had no time outs left, so the field goal team had to hustle onto the field with only about 16 seconds to go - and no way to stop the clock at all - and execute the field goal, which they did as time expired.  This capped a 17 point rally by the Bengals.

4.  The 2005 38-31 victory over the Steelers - in Pittsburgh - to guarantee their first winning season since 1990.

This was a great game that went back and forth.  Thanks to a bevy of turnovers from Big Ben, Cincy was able to come out ahead.  This included the final Bengals' touchdown from Rudi Johnson, a 14 yard run against an all-out blitz from the Steelers, to put the Bengals up 38-28.

This basically won the division for the Bengals for the first time in 15 years.  It also guaranteed they would have a winning season since 1990 too.

3.  The 2003 24-19, Chad Johnson guarantee win, over the undefeated KC Chiefs.  This meant that the Bengals were legit under Marvin Lewis.

This game basically put the Bengals and Chad Johnson on the map.  This was Lewis's signature win of his first year.

Cincy hosted the 10-0 Chiefs.  Despite being a subpar 4-5, Chad Johnson - who hardly anyone had ever heard of before despite his first 1,000 yard season a year earlier - guaranteed a win.  This brought a frenzy of media attention to the Queen City and the yet unknown Johnson.  I saw a pregame show on Johnson that featured him wandering around the stadium in the middle of the night and basically living there.  Where did that hunger go?  This was the best of times for Johnson and the worst.  He would ink a very lucrative contract extension earlier in the week, but this brought out a dark, me-me-me, side in Johnson that would later lead to his trade from the team.

Though the spotlight was on Johnson, it was Peter Warrick who stole the show with a punt return for a TD and a fourth quarter TD of 77 yards.  Rudi Johnson also ran over the vaunted Chiefs defense.  And the Bengals defense forced 10 straight punts from the Chiefs before their offense would finally get rolling and make a game of it.

2.  1981 AFC Championship - 27-7 over the Chargers in what is known as "The Freezer Bowl."

This was the game that made me fascinated by the Bengals.  I was watching it - or sitting through it as I did on most Sundays as my family watched football on TV.  Something about those orange and black jerseys and those awesome tiger striped helmets won me over for life that day.  Ken Anderson out dueled fall of fame Dan Fouts in this frigid game that sent the Bengals to their first Super Bowl.

1.  The 1988 AFC Championship - 21-10 over the Buffalo Bills.

This has to be the best Bengals' win in team history.  The entire city was captivated by the Bengals, who had been a miserable 4-12 the year before but had the best record in the league at 12-4.  They were undefeated at home and had the league MVP in quarterback Boomer Esiason.  They had a deep threat in Eddie Brown.  They had the biggest offensive line in the league, led by Pro Bowlers Max Montoya and Anthony Munoz.  They had a two headed monster at running back in the scat-back / do-everthing James Brooks (who scored 14 touchdowns rushing and receiving and who almost broke 1,000 yards rushing while averaging over 5 yards a carry) and the rookie sensation Ickey Woods, who rushed to a league leading 15 touchdowns, which he capped with his "Ickey-Shuffle."

Ickey would rumble for two late touchdowns and Brooks caught a short TD pass to account for all the scoring.  All Pro safety David Filcher sealed the win with an end zone interception as time expired.

This sent them to their second Super Bowl, this one again against the dreaded 49ers.

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