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Bengals lost Super Bowl XXIII 26 years ago today

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The Cincinnati Bengals made their last Super Bowl appearance 26 years ago today, when Joe Montana completed a game-winning touchdown for the 49ers with just seconds remaining in the game.

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Super Bowl XXIII. The date was January 22, 1989... 26 years ago today.

I was 10-years-old, but it's a memory that floats to the surface with the buoyancy of an ice cube. My mother, a stanch football antagonist, was younger than I am today and my siblings had yet to arrive on this blue planet.

The Cincinnati Bengals had just taken a 16-13 lead following a Jim Breech 40-yard field goal with 3:20 remaining in the game. San Francisco 49ers returner, Del Rodgers hauled in the ensuing kickoff at the seven-yard line, returning it to the 15. A holding penalty pushed San Francisco back at their own eight. It felt perfect. Defense was winning the day and Cincinnati had the advantage on special teams.

There was a maroon couch with an itchy surface in my living room with cigarette burns on the arm rest. I was bouncing like a lottery ball around the room. The pillows, with the same patchy designs and deep blood color, experienced a new sensation as punching bags.

A year prior to this game, we were living in Minnesota. Imagine my enthusiasm when I discovered that my new city featured a Super Bowl team and the Cincinnati Reds, who were a big deal. Life was good for a 10-year-old sports fan.

Joe Montana completed an eight-yard pass to Roger Craig and then an seven-yarder to tight end John Frank -- who would later become an otolaryngologist. Whatever. Prevent defense. Right? Montana applied the west coast offense brilliantly and the over-confident Bengals defense had obsessed over deep passes that left underneath routes wide open. Jerry Rice snagged a seven-yarder in the flats, and another 17-yarder on the sidelines. Before we knew it, San Francisco crossed midfield and continued marching down the field.

It was tense. Gripping these matching deep tinted pillows, it became evident that... 1) the 49ers were going to tie up the game and send it into overtime or 2) they were going to score a touchdown to win the game. With 39 seconds remaining in the game, Joe Montana took the snap and won the game on a well-placed pass to John Taylor for the touchdown.

Normally you'd say it's a horrible memory to have. It's the last time that Cincinnati made a Super Bowl appearance... 26 years ago today.

What were your experiences? Were you even born yet?