We have gone over the Bengals postseason failures over and over and over again now for a few years.
We talk about the constant disappointment and the heartbreak and we continue to go into every season believing this is the year it finally happens, right? We get our hopes up because lets be realistic here, as fans we are really fortunate to watch a damn good Football team play and compete every Sunday. We are just waiting for them to get over that hump and make a postseason run.
But with all these tough and brutal losses, two of these games stand out more than the others. The 2006 AFC Wildcard game and this seasons 2016 AFC Wildcard game against the teams arch nemesis, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Now I know every playoff loss has been brutal, these are the two that just pull at your heart every time you discuss or think about them. It’s not just the fact that both seasons ended in these games, or the fact that it was by the hated Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s also the two times you really believed were the Franchise’s best chances at making a deep playoff run.
Lets review them both to discuss the pain from these games shall we? Please hold off on drinking your bourbon until cases for both games have been reviewed.
January 8, 2006: After a 15 year drought from the postseason the Bengals finally make it. A great 11-5 season with a young group of future stars, a franchise QB and a huge grasp of hope. The day is finally here, the Bengals are in the playoffs but against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the class of the AFC North.
We all know how it goes from here. Quarterback Carson Palmer throws a bomb downfield to the rookie Wide Receiver Chris Henry for the longest offensive play in Bengals postseason history…. Just to see Carson Palmer on the ground after a brutal hit from Steelers defensive linemen and former Bengal Kimo von Oelhoffen.
Although having the lead going into halftime of that game with backup Quarterback Jon Kitna at the helm, the Bengals cannot get anything going in the second half, the Pittsburgh Steelers roll on through the game and onto winning their 5th Super Bowl in franchise history while Bengals fans sit and wonder of course, what could have been.
January 9, 2016: The Bengals have a great 12-4 regular season tying a franchise record for most wins in a single season. Although starting quarterback Andy Dalton is unavailable due to a broken thumb, backup QB and College Football sensation A.J. McCarron takes over to lead the Bengals into this game.
Three quarters of not getting anything going leads to the Bengals being down 15-0 at the start of the 4th Quarter. After a Ben Roethlisberger injury and a beautiful 4th quarter by McCarron, he hits star Wideout A.J. Green to give the Bengals a 16-15 lead late in the 4th quarter. Shortly after the score, linebacker Vontaze Burfict makes what looks to be the game winning interception to set a date for the Bengals in Foxborough, Massachusetts to take on Tom Brady and the class of the AFC New England Patriots… Just to watch the ultimate nightmare for anyone who is a fan of a sports team.
Jeremy Hill fumbles, Leon Hall lets Antonio Brown beat him on a 4th down conversion, Vontaze Burfict gets a penalty for an illegal hit, coaches come on the field and it ends with Adam Jones getting a personal foul penalty.. Yes its still vivd in memory.
Steelers kick the field goal, win 18-16 and advance to face the Denver Broncos in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.
Maybe we should be over it, right? Let it go, move on… We’ve heard all the cliches that sound like you just went through a rough breakup with your serious Girlfriend, but it’s just not that easy. These games are ones that Bengals fans will always be able to describe with heartbreak and disappointment, and probably won’t feel better unless one of these days they get their poetic justice and beat the Steelers in the playoffs to end their season.
So Bengals fans we are now left to wonder. Which of these two postseason defeats hurts the most?