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Bengals recent games vs Redskins have been momentum-builders

The Bengals have a history of building momentum against the Redskins. Will it continue in 2016? Let’s hope so!

Cincinnati Bengals v Washington Redskins Photo by Larry French/Getty Images

The Bengals travel across the pond this week for the first time ever to take on the Washington Redskins in a game that could define their season. Through the first seven weeks, the Bengals have only managed to win three games, all coming against opponents with losing records and none coming consecutively. This week, the Bengals can make a statement by taking down the 4-3 Redskins a week after beating the 0-7 Browns and climbing to only one game behind the division-leading Steelers in the AFC North.

If recent history is any indication of what will happen this week, the Bengals should pull out a hard-fought win and build some momentum going forward. The Bengals haven’t lost to the Redskins since September 22, 1991. To be fair, the Bengals went through a long period of not playing the Redskins at all from 1992-2003. But, they have played them every four years since 2004 and haven’t lost since.

In the second year of the Carson Palmer - Marvin Lewis era, the Bengals dominated the Redskins for the first 55 minutes. Palmer was average, throwing 39 passes for 24 catches, 217 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2interceptions. But, Rudi Johnson went off on 31 rushing attempts for 102 yards and 1 touchdown.

By 7:28 in the second quarter, the Bengals built a 17-0 lead that would not change until the Redskins scored a field goal with 5:46 left in the game. They did score a touchdown a few minutes later with 2:22 left to go to bring the score to 17-10. But, the comeback attempt was too little, too late for the Redskins, whose next drive stalled. The win gave the 3-5 Bengals a leg to stand on as part of a late season push that saw them win six of their final nine games, building up hope for the division-winning 2005 season.

Four years later, in 2008, the Bengals met up with the Redskins again. The 1-11-1 Bengals weren’t supposed to take down the 7-6 Redskins. Sure, they were on a losing streak and coming to Cincinnati, but the Bengals were the worst team in the NFL at the time. In the face of doubters, Bengals quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick played really well, putting up 209 passing yards, 29 rushing yards, and 1 touchdown through the air and 1 on the ground. The win set the Bengals up for a three game winning streak at the end of the season. Three wins at the end of an abysmal season didn’t seem like much right away, but it did provide a confidence boost for the Bengals going into a division-winning 2009 season, much like the win in 2004.

In 2012, The Bengals received yet another confidence boost by beating the Redskins early in the season, as part of a three game winning streak after losing in Week 1 to the Baltimore Ravens. The Bengals fell to 3-5 after a rough stretch from Week 5 to Week 9. But, the Week 3 win over the Redskins that saw Andy Dalton have one of his best games ever (19/27 for 328 yards, three touchdowns, one interception and a 132.9 quarterback rating) gave the Bengals enough of a boost early on that they were able to go on a run in the second half of the season to secure the AFC’s No. 6 seed.

Does that scenario sound familiar? It should, because it is similar to what the Bengals are facing this week. Granted, we are already in Week 8, so this game doesn’t provide an opportunity for the team to build some early momentum. But, it would give the Bengals their first back-to-back wins of the 2016 season with an easier schedule ahead than what they’ve faced so far. Once again, the Bengals could see a huge confidence boost, leading to a playoff push, by beating the Washington Redskins and then heading into their bye week.

However, the Bengals building momentum with victories over the Redskins has been a development that has only been particularly prevalent during the Marvin Lewis era. Before Lewis came to town in 2003, the Bengals had only beaten the Redskins twice - once in 1979 and once in 1988. Granted, the Week 17 win in 1988 gave the Bengals some much needed confidence heading into the postseason after losing by a score of 41-6 to the rival Houston Oilers in Week 16. The Bengals wouldn’t lose again that season until Joe Montana’s infamous game winning drive sealed the Bengals’ fate in Super Bowl XXIII.

But, the Bengals dropped a game to the Redskins the next time they played, in 1991. It was part of an eight game losing streak to start the season that culminated in the team’s worst record ever, at the time (3-13). The only other time the Bengals ever beat the Redskins before the Marvin Lewis era was in the 1974 season.

The Bengals beat the Redskins 28-17 that year, and the momentum carried over into the following week when the Bengals beat the Browns. But, it didn’t last long as the Bengals finished 7-7 that year, third place in the AFC Central, and had to wait until the following season to make their first ever playoff appearance. It was the one time that a Bengals victory over the Redskins did not lead to any significant momentum shift. It was also the one time the Bengals beat the Redskins in their first two decades of existence.

The Bengals will certainly be hoping to build some momentum this week, much like they have in virtually every recent game between the two teams. The Ravens and Steelers are both off this week, but one of them are guaranteed to lose the following week as they play each other in Week 9.

A win for the Bengals this week will put them in second place for the division and could put them in a tie for first place if the Ravens beat the Steelers during the Bengals’ Week 9 bye. If the Bengals win and the Steelers win next week, Cincinnati will remain solidly in second place with a slew of winnable games through the final eight weeks while the Steelers attempt to maintain their winning ways against the Cowboys, Browns, Colts, Giants, Bills, Bengals, and Ravens in the second half of the season.