The 1985 Bengals lost to Washington in the penultimate game eventually costing Cincinnati a playoff spot.
The Bengals needed to win their penultimate game of the 1985 season at Washington to keep their playoff hopes alive. After getting out to a big lead Cincinnati allowed Washington back into the game and ultimately lost in a game that was a microcosm of the Bengals history.
In 1985 Cincinnati was seeking its first playoff appearance in three seasons and just their sixth in their 18th season as a franchise. Cincinnati had been competitive throughout most of its history until that point. The Bengals began week 15, 7-7 and were battling with Cleveland and Pittsburgh for the AFC Central Division title.
The Bengals had won two in a row and five out of seven to get back into the playoff picture after starting the season 2-5. Washington entered week 15 fighting for their own playoff spot. Dallas, the New York Giants and Washington were battling for the NFC East title and were also in contention for a wild card spot.
Cincinnati travelled to Washington with a two-game winning streak after pounding the Houston Oilers 45-27 and Dallas Cowboys 50-24. The Bengals offense accumulated 1,175 yards in the two victories. Cincinnati QB Boomer Esiason threw for 585 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions against Dallas and Houston.
The Bengals were on a roll as they traveled to RFK Stadium to face a Washington team that had been to two of the last three Super Bowls. Cincinnati’s defense had done their part in helping the Bengals offense getting off to good starts. Washington became the first team in six games to score a first-quarter TD versus Cincinnati.
After Washington got on the board first, the Bengals scored 24 unanswered points. Three first quarter TD passes including the first one from halfback James Brooks to wide receiver Eddie Brown put the Bengals seemingly in front with a comfortable lead. Esiason and tight end Rodney Holman connected for the next two TDs.
The second of the Esiason to Holman TDs put Cincinnati up 21-7 and a field goal by Jim Breech in the second quarter extended the lead to 24-7. That was the last points the Bengals would have in the game. Washington began their comeback with a Jay Schroeder to Art Monk four-yard TD pass in the second quarter.
Wyche was Joe Montana’s QB coach when he entered the NFL with the Niners in 1979. Wyche was hired to coach Cincinnati by owner Paul Brown in 1984, and installed the NFL’s most imaginative offense. Boomer Esiason won the MVP in 1988, and Bengals made the Super Bowl that season.
— Peter King (@peter_king) January 2, 2020
Monk who once held the NFL all-time receiving record burned Cincinnati for 13 receptions for 230 yards and the sole TD. Mark Moseley who was the last straight on kicker added field goals in the second and third quarters to get Washington within 24-20. A George Rogers 34 yard TD run in the fourth quarter put Washington up late.
The 13 receptions and 230 receiving yards by Monk were at the time the most ever against Cincinnati. Esiason finished with 335 yards passing, two TDs and two interceptions. The Bengals turned the ball over three times as a team to four for Washington.
Cincinnati had to hope to finish in a three-way tie in the AFC Central with Cleveland and Pittsburgh to make the playoffs. Pittsburgh lost its week 16 game 28-10 to the playoff bound New York Giants on Saturday in a game that hurt both Cincinnati and Washington. The Steelers lost eliminated Cincinnati from the playoffs.
The Bengals lost 34-23 to New England and Cleveland lost 37-10 to the New York Jets week 16 giving the title outright to the Browns securing their first playoff spot since 1982 and first division totle since 1980. The 1985 Bengals were in the second-year of the Sam Wyche tenure.