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Bengals vs Lions: Recent games against the opponent

The Bengals don’t always play the Lions. But, when they do, they usually win.

Cincinnati Bengals v Detroit Lions Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Bengals are now preparing for their second preseason game as they travel to Detroit to play the Lions, whom they haven’t lost to in Detroit during the regular season in over two decades.

In fact, they haven’t lost a regular season game to the Lions in Detroit since the very first meeting between the two teams in 1970. Behind the quarterback tandem of Sam Wyche and Virgil Carter, the Bengals fell to the Lions by a whopping score of 38-3. But, they’re a perfect 4-0 in every game in Detroit since.

The Bengals and Lions last played each other in Week 7 of 2013 when A.J. Green had an 82 yard touchdown. Calvin Johnson was kept in check for the first half by the Bengals’ defense but embarrassed the Bengals in the second half of the game with one of his best-ever plays. He had a 27-yard touchdown in the third quarter (not the best play) and then a 50-yard jump ball into the endzone in which he was surrounded by what seemed like every single Bengals defender but still made the catch. The play was shown on repeat during Johnson’s final week in the NFL before retiring. Even with Johnson’s two touchdowns, the Bengals won 27-24.

Prior to the that, the two teams played in the regular season was in 2009. Carson Palmer’s Bengals cruised to a 23-13 win in Paul Brown Stadium that would have been bigger were it not for a garbage time touchdown run from Lions running back Kevin Smith.

The win was the last one the Bengals would notch before succumbing to a late season collapse where they lost three of their last four games. The streak continued into the wild card round as they fell to the New York Jets. The Lions, on the other hand, were in the middle of an awful 2-14 season. The loss to the Bengals was just another bad game in a season where they didn’t win a single game on the road.

The loss did help the Lions to secure the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft, a pick they used on Ndamukong Suh. He absolutely dominated at defensive tackle in Detroit before leaving for Miami in last year’s free agency period.

It’s been a little bit of a different story in the preseason for the Bengals and Lions. The last time the two teams met at all was in the 2011 preseason in Detroit. It was the very first game for Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. Dalton did manage to complete most of his passes in his Bengals debut. But, 69 yards on 11 completions and no touchdowns left fans hoping that he could improve going forward.

Dalton’s day was highlighted by a dirty sack from Suh in which he ripped Dalton’s helmet clean off. Suh was handed a 15 yard roughing the passer penalty that set the Bengals up at the Lions’ 14 yard line. Dalton and the offense were unable to punch the ball in the endzone. But, they did set Mike Nugent up for an easy field goal. The score gave the Bengals their first and only points of the game.

Dalton’s ineffectiveness in his very first NFL action certainly didn’t help as Matthew Stafford shredded the Bengals for two touchdowns en route to a 34-3 beatdown. But, he did bounce back to put together a good enough season when the real action started. Both teams ended up making the playoffs as Wild Card seeds that year, losing in the first round by similar margins.

In 10 total regular season meetings between the Bengals and Lions, the Bengals dominate the series 7-3. In fact, they haven’t lost at all since a fateful 19-13 loss in 1992 at the Bengals’ old home, Riverfront Stadium. Much like the Lions’ loss to the Bengals in 2009, the Bengals’ loss to the Lions in 1992 was just another loss in a terrible season for the team (5-11).

Six years later, the Bengals put together an even worse season (3-13). But, one of their three wins came against the Lions by a score of 34-28. Bengals quarterback Neil O'Donnell put together a rare high end performance in which he recorded 25 completions on 36 attempts for 303 yards, two touchdowns, and a 113.5 quarterback rating. In 2001, Jon Kitna led the Bengals to a 31-27 win despite only recording a quarterback rating of 79.9.

Since Marvin Lewis joined the team in 2003, the two teams have met twice (2005 and 2009). Both years were great ones for the Bengals that resulted in division championships. But, they were terrible seasons for the Lions, who went 5-11 and 2-14 respectively.

This Thursday, the Bengals will travel to Detroit to face off against the Lions once again. Although Dalton won’t play much more than a quarter, he will certainly be hoping to improve over his lackluster performance in 2011. It will also be the first time that Bengals fans will get to see former Bengals players Marvin Jones and Wallace Gillberry since they left for Detroit this offseason.

Neither player will likely receive a ton of playing time. Gillberry will likely be on the field more than Jones, as he fights to maintain his spot as the Lions’ backup to Ezekiel Ansah. Jones only caught a single pass in last week’s 30-17 defeat of the Pittsburgh Steelers, so it will be interesting to see how he’s used against the Bengals.