Cincinnati Bengals: Top 5 Season Openers

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Jan 3, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. The bengals won 24-16. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 3, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. The bengals won 24-16. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cincinnati Bengals will begin their defense of the AFC North championship on Sunday when they travel to East Rutherford, NJ, to take on the New York Jets in the 2016 season opener.

This list will countdown the top five season-opening moments in the Bengals’ 46-year history.

Honorable mention

2014: Bengals 23, Ravens 16

Cincinnati had not won in Baltimore since they swept the division during their 2009 division-championship campaign, but had to take on the Ravens to open up the 2014 season.

Despite losing tight end Tyler Eifert to an elbow injury just eight snaps into the game, Cincinnati took a 15-0 halftime advantage thanks to five Mike Nugent field goals.

Baltimore responded in the second half, however, with Justin Forsett’s 7-yard score and a Justin Tucker field goal cutting the Bengals’ lead to five.

With less than six minutes remaining in the game, Joe Flacco eluded the pocket and heaved an 80-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith Sr., which brought Baltimore all the way back to take a 16-15 lead.

One year earlier, A.J. Green had caught a  hail Mary that sent the game to overtime (an eventual Bengals’ loss). On this day, he would burn the Ravens again, hauling in a 77-yard score just two plays after Baltimore had taken the lead. Andy Dalton tossed the two-point conversion to Mohamed Sanu to give Cincinnati a 23-16 lead, which would stand as the final as Flacco was sacked on 4th down by Wallace Gilberry and Reggie Nelson with 1:00 minute left in the game.

1988: Bengals 21, Cardinals 14

After losing seven games by 7 points or less in 1987, the Bengals brought back head coach Sam Wyche for the 1988 season and needed to find a way to finish a game. In the season-opener at Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati trailed 14-7 in the second half until a pair of Boomer Esiason touchdown tosses gave them a 21-14 lead in the fourth quarter.

With Phoenix driving, the Bengals needed to put the game away. They did just that on 4th and goal from the 10-yard line when defensive end Jason Buck broke through the offensive line and hit quarterback Neil Lomax as he threw, forcing the ball to fall incomplete at the feet of intended receiver J.T. Smith.

The ’88 Bengals would feed off that goal line stand, winning their next three games all by one possession and starting the season 6-0, which would be stand as the best start in franchise history until the team’s 8-0 beginning in 2015.

Now for the ones that count!

Next: Raiding Riverfront

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