Since we're officially in Super Bowl week, Sports Illustrated has recently come out with a photo compilation depicting the top ten Superbowls of all time. Even though the Bengals have only been to two Superbowls, they managed to make the list at No. 4 with their Superbowl XXIII appearance against the 49ers in Miami, FL.
A few personal memories of this game include Tim Krumrie's absolutely devastating, and stomach-turning, broken left leg, Standford Jennings' 93-yard kickoff return to end the 3rd quarter, Jerry Rice's MVP performance, and, of course, there is that other drive at the end of the game by that other quarterback who ended up being pretty good.
Though this game began in a very non-spectacular way with a 3-3 score at halftime, the second half had plenty of action that would not leave any NFL fan wanting for more.
The second half started with the Bengals driving the ball 61 yards down the field on 12 plays and taking their first lead of the game with a 43-yard field goal by Bengal great Jim Breech. After the Bengals' 17th ranked defense was able to get a quick punt from the 49ers offense, the Bengals squandered a golden opportunity when Boomer Esiason was intercepted on the first play by 49ers linebacker Bill Romanowski. Although the Bengals defense held the 49ers to another field goal, the game was now tied 6-6 with a little under a minute left to play in the third.
On the ensuing kickoff, Stanford Jennings took Mike Cofer's kick 93 yards and gave the Bengals a 13-6 lead with 30 seconds left in the 3rd quarter. This looked like it could be the momentum turn the Bengals needed to get the rest of the team and all the fans back into the game, but it would be short-lived because Joe Montana took the 49ers 85 yards in 4 plays. Montana completed passes of 31 and 40 that set the 49ers up 14 yards away from tying the game again. Lewis Billups had an opportunity to change the game but dropped an interception in the corner of the endzone, and in true Joe Montana fashion, he made the Bengals pay for it by completing a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Rice to tie the game at 13.
There would not be another score until the four minute mark when the Bengals completed a 10-play, 46-yard drive capped off by a 40-yard field goal by Breech. Now, for many Bengals fans the final drive of Superbowl XXIII is the second worst post-season memory that comes to mind, but it became the defining moment of Joe Montana's football career.
On the ensuing kickoff, the 49ers returned the ball to their own 15, but because of an illegal block in the back penalty they were moved back half the distance to the goaline, thus beginning their drive on the 8-yard line. 11 plays, 92 yards, and 159 seconds later, Joe Montana completes a 10-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor and gives the 49ers a 20-16 lead with 31 seconds left in the game. The Bengals offense had one last chance after the ensuing kickoff and after an Esiason-to-Collinsworth pass was knocked away as time expired, the game was over and the 49ers were crowned Superbowl XXIII champions.
This game defined the career of Joe Montana, was the final game of Chris Collinsworth's career, and was also the best Superbowl performance by the Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice. Although the Bengals stats were no where near the 49ers', the game was still very close and is certainly worthy of its No. 4 ranking on the SI.com top ten list. Notwithstanding the awful taste left in the mouths of Bengals fans everywhere by this game, it is a great reminder of the Bengals' winning history while also stirring up hope in the hearts of Bengals fans everywhere knowing that we have a very bright future ahead of us with players like A.J. Green, Andy Dalton, and Andrew Whitworth leading our Bengals into next season.