If you go up to any Bengals fan, and ask them about the team’s history, you will invariably get a long, sordid tale of draft busts, injuries, bad luck, and shattered dreams. Besides the obligatory ire directed at Joe Montana and the 49ers, you’ll also hear that after the 1991 season, the Bengals didn’t have another winning season until 2005. You’ll also hear that the Bengals last playoff victory came in 1990. They will give you the litany of bad draft picks during that time, along with the bad head coaching hires. By the end, you’ll feel a mix of pity, wonderment, and, possibly with a tear, sadness.
All of these things have led to a strange phenomena in Cincinnati: The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t had back-to-back winning seasons since the ’81-’82 seasons. The next team in line in that category is the Cleveland Browns, but even then it was several year difference. Since that 1982 seasons, the Bengals have followed every single good season with a mediocre-at-best one. This inconsistency is one of the many qualities that have driven fans crazy over the past few decades. The reasons for these dropoffs are different each time, but always maddening. Let’s take a look back.