As Bengals fans, you probably know that Cincinnati has been to the Super Bowl two times in the team's history. You may also know that both times, the Bengals were beaten by the San Francisco 49ers. Many Bengal fans know this, but didn't experience it based on their age. Others still feel the gut punch of John Taylor beating Ray Horton for the touchdown catch that sealed the game.
In the 1980s, the Super Bowl matchups had becoming boring for most of the football world. The games had been dominated by one of the teams to the point where there is no competition. The final scores echo the blowout sentiment:
- Super Bowl 17 - Redskins 27, Dolphins 17
- Super Bowl 18 - Raiders 38, Redskins 9
- Super Bowl 19 - 49ers 38, Dolphins 16
- Super Bowl 20 - Bears 46, Patriots 10
- Super Bowl 21 - Giants 39, Broncos 20
- Super Bowl 22 - Redskins 42, Broncos 10
The bookends for these games were the two Super Bowls featuring the 49ers and the Bengals. The first (Super Bowl 16) looked to follow the blowout pattern. The Bengals moved the ball but committed four turnovers and the 49ers held a 20-0 halftime lead. This game will be remembered for the third quarter goal line stand that kept Cincinnati from scoring a touchdown. Two fourth quarter field goals were all San Francisco could muster in the second half, but it was enough for the five point victory.
The blowouts in between had some media questioning the Super Bowl in general. There was discussion that the true championship game was the one played the week before based on the showings of the losing teams in the final game.
Cincinnati and San Francisco didn't set out to change this impression, they just played the game that kept people on the edge of their seats. Could Joe Montana pull off a late fourth quarter 92 yard touchdown drive against the Bengals defense that had become very stingy with giving up points?
We all know how it ended.
Make no mistake about it, there is a rivalry feel when these teams meet. Sure, it may be one sided coming from the banks of the Ohio, but we will never forget those two Super Bowl losses. Cincinnati has lost four of six since the last time these teams met in the Super Bowl. Each time it drags up those old memories.
The players on the field won't have the same emotions of past Bengals, but the fans have long memories and a win on Sunday would do a lot for the mental health of this fan base.