Over the next few weeks, we’re beginning a series in which we rank the 5 greatest Bengals at every position. Today we’re breaking down the Bengals’ All-Time Top 5 linebackers:
5.) (Tie) Brian Simmons & Takeo Spikes
It’s only fitting that after coming into the league together, in the 1998 NFL Draft, that they tie for number five on my all-time LB’s list. Each one brought something different to the team.
Simmons was known as the “silent assassin”. He led by example on the field. The Bengals liked his intelligence so much that he still called the Defense once they moved to the 4-3 scheme and he slid to the outside. In 2001, they faced the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens for their second game. Right before the halftime, the Ravens were driving downfield. They were on the goaline. They went for it and threw into the endzone. Simmons’ made one of his greatest plays in his Cincinnati career by picking off the pass, which lead to Cincinnati’s 21-10 win. In 2003, the Bengals were again down 0-7 against the Ravens. With the Ravens, yet again, closing in on a score, Simmons sacked rookie quarterback Kyle Boller, forcing a fumble. This led to Jon Kitna’s 45-yard touchdown pass on third down. The Bengals won 34-26. A week later, the Bengals were protecting a 27-24 lead against the Seattle Seahawks in the last six minutes. Simmons deflected a Matt Hasselbeck pass at the Cincinnati 34, then deflected another at the 24, which was intercepted by cornerback Jeff Burris to win the game. In 2004, the home season opener, the Bengals were trailing the Miami Dolphins 0-3 at halftime. Three minutes into the second half, Simmons intercepted an A.J. Feeley pass and took it 50 yards for the Bengals only score of the game. It allowed Carson Palmer to get rolling and drive downfield to set up Shayne Graham’s game-winning field goal.
In Spikes rookie season he started every preseason game and every regular season game. He was the first rookie to lead the Bengals in tackles since James Francis led them in 1990. He also led the team in total snaps played on offense and defense, which added up to 997. In 1999 he was the team captain, playing in all his games as a Right Inside Linebacker and a Right Linebacker. He forced four fumbles and recovered four, leading the team in that as well. In 2000, Spikes played every game as a Right Outside Linebacker and recorded 128 tackles. He passed the 100 tackle mark for the third straight time and led the team in tackles and fumble recoveries. In 2001, Spikes again started at ROLB for all of the 15 games he played that season. He once again led the team in solo and total tackles in the 2001 campaign. Spikes might have blown away the stats had tragedy not stricken his family that year. Spikes missed 5th game of the year do the passing of his father. In 2002, Spikes was in his final season with the Bengals. He played all 16 games that season. In his tenure with the Bengals, he played 79 of a possible 80 games. He led the team in solo and total tackles once again and scored his second defensive TD by way of fumble recovery.