There are several things that can make a football season have historical significance. Obviously, the first year of any team is an important year (that would be 1968 for the Cincinnati Bengals). I have decided not to include that in my list here, as it’s an easy choice, and would be true for all 32 franchises. I’ve created the list based on, well, my own set of criteria, and how I remember them. Without further ado, the five most significant years in Cincinnati Bengals history.
5. The 2005 Season:
Beginning with the 1991 season, the Bengals ran off 14 straight seasons without a winning record. That would in this season. Carson Palmer had been drafted in 2003, and going into his third season, was a rising star, mentioned along with names like Brady and Manning. Chad Johnson was also one of the leagues top receivers and he and T.J. Houshmandzadeh formed a formidable duo. The high-powered offense would pair with an opportunistic defense, led by a +24 turnover differential, to lead them to an 11-5 record and 1st place in the AFC North. It would be their first trip to the playoffs since 1990. Unfortunately, it ended in disaster, with a playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game in which Palmer suffered a serious leg injury, causing him to miss most of the loss. It would be another four years before the Bengals would go back to the playoffs.
4. The 2011 Season:
After a disappointing 2010 season that saw the Bengals go 4-12, Carson Palmer declared that he wanted to be traded or he would retire. This began a long standoff between he and owner Mike Brown. The Bengals, in an effort to start all over, drafted quarterback Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green with their first two picks to be the cornerstones of the future. Nobody told the duo that they were rebuilding though and the young duo, along with a stout defense, started out 6-2. Though they faltered down the stretch against some quality opponents, they finished 9-7 and made the playoffs. Dalton and Green made the Pro Bowl and Dalton was in the running for Rookie of the Year honors. A team that was supposed to be starting fresh surprised the league, and began a whole new era of excitement in Cincinnati