Pro Football Talk has been going through each team in the NFL and counting down their worst four moments since the last NFL work stoppage, which occurred in 1987 when the players went on strike.
Before the video gets played, PFT makes sure to let us know that it was hard to narrow the Bengals' worst moment down to four so they had to come up with some honorable mentions.
The fourth worst moment in Bengals history since the 1987 strike was in 1999 when they selected Oregon quarterback Akili Smith with the No. 3 overall pick.
Says Mike Florio:
"It's not just that the Bengals took Akili Smith, who ultimately did nothing, not just with the Bengals or anyone else, in the top five, No. 3 overall," Florio said. "It's also that the Bengals had a chance to do what the Redskins did, which is agree to give up that pick in exchange for the entire New Orleans Saints draft in 1999, and their first-round pick in 2000."
Florio went on to question whether or not the Bengals would have still taken Smith with the lower first-round pick if they had traded with Saints but he knows that they would have been able to select some extra players that could have done the team some good. Instead they ended up with a bust of a quarterback and no extra picks.
The third worst moment, according to PFT, in Bengals history since the 1987 player strike, is the 1990 Divisional playoff game in which Bengals linebacker Kevin Walker hit Raiders running back Bo Jackson, injuring his hip badly enough that Jackson was forced to end his career early.
"For the sport, that was a bad moment," Florio said, "because it deprived us the ability to enjoy the talents of Bo Jackson, both in football and in baseball. Not that they intentionally broke his hip, or whatever specifically happened to his hip that caused it to be replaced; it was a routine play. But the Bengals were the team that did it."
Florio mentioned that the Bengals had beaten the Houston Oilers easily the week before, but after injuring Jackson's hip, ending his career, they lost the game against the Raiders (20-10), and it took them 15 years to return to the playoffs (2005) and since their win against the Oilers in the 1990 playoffs, the Bengals have not won a single playoff game in their two playoff appearances (2005, 2009).
So the third worst moment is...... some sort of curse?
"2005 was the year that the Bengals came back after 15 years of mediocrity at best, just flat out terrible football," Florio said. "They won the division, swept the Pittsburgh Steelers (Florio was actually wrong about that... they lost to Steelers in Cincinnati but beat them in Pittsburgh), and were hosting the Steelers again ..... But it wasn't meant to be. The first play from scrimmage for the Bengals, Carson Palmer gets his knee blown out by Kimo Von Oelhoffen with a low hit, it would be an illegal hit today."
Florio talked about how the Bengals were still leading the Steelers at half time of that game even though Palmer was out. He talked about Chad (then Johnson) Ochocinco's locker room melt down, which may have damaged the team's confidence heading into the second half. Of course they lost that game and had to watch the Steelers move on to win the Super Bowl from home. It's also fairly safe to say that moment was the beginning of the end of Carson Palmer in Cincinnati.
Finally, the worst Bengals moment, according to PFT, since the 1987 work stoppage is Super Bowl XXIII, which they lost in the final moments to the San Francisco 49ers.
"The Bengals weren't expected to be competitive with the 49ers in that Super Bowl game," Florio said. "They were. They had a chance to win it. They were holding the lead late. And then Joe Montana, calmly and casually, led his team down the field."
Florio wonders what would have happened if the Bengals had won that game. He mention's Boomer Esiason's comments that there isn't a culture of winning in Cincinnati. He wonders if winning that game would have changed Mike Brown to an owner who wants wins from an owner who's trying to turn a profit.
As for the honorable mentions, Florio asked for PFT reader input and came up with the 2009 playoff loss to the Jets, the 1987 loss to the 49ers when the Bengals had the lead late and decided to run the ball with James Brooks, who was stuffed allowing the 49ers to win the game, draft busts in general, losing David Pollack and Odell Thurmann from the 2005 draft and many more.
Here is the video, if you want to check it out. Warning: it is depressing.