It’s been over three years since the Bengals last had a losing record. In Week 1 of the 2013 NFL season the Bengals gave up a 21-10 fourth quarter lead to drop the opener 21-24. After beginning the season 0-1, they responded by winning their next two games. They defeated the Steelers 20-10, and followed that up with a thrilling home victory against the Packers. After giving up 30 straight points, the Bengals stormed back for a 34-30 victory, secured by this play.
In 2014 the Bengals began the season 3-0, and flirted with 0.500 when they fell to 3-2-1, but responded with back-to-back victories, and held a winning record all season. They finished the year 10-5-1.
In 2015 the Bengals started out 8-0, and remained above 0.500 all season. The closest they came to 0.500 was an 8-2 mark following a road loss in Arizona. They finished the year 12-4.
But, back to 2013. On Monday night, September 16, 2013 after the Bengals defeated the Steelers 20-10, they reached the 0.500 mark (1-1). They never again dropped below 0.500 until their 2016 Week 3 home loss to the Denver Broncos, more than three years later.
That’s a long run to remain above 0.500, because it not only means you need to win in Week 1, but it means you can’t have a bad stretch of games early in the season and need to be a strong playoff contender every single year with a solid record at the mid and end points of the season.
The Bengals have been very successful, and the fans have grown accustomed to their team winning games. For over three years Bengals’ fans have not seen their team hold a losing record. The last time the Bengals dropped below 0.500, they responded with a good season and a playoff appearance. So a 1-2 start is a little too early to start forecasting doom and gloom. There is still much football to be played.
What if the unthinkable happens, and the Bengals drop a primetime game to the hapless Dolphins? That would drop the Bengals to two games below 0.500. The last time that happened was almost four years ago. The Bengals have only once been two games below 0.500 in the five plus years of the Andy Dalton era. Way back in 2012 the Bengals dropped four straight games to sit a 3-5 at the midway point of the season. They responded by dismantling the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants 31-13 on their way to victories in seven of their last eight games and earned a spot in the playoffs.
The Bengals have rarely fallen below 0.500 since Dalton and A.J. Green have been on the roster. But every time they have fallen, they have gotten back up and made the playoffs. Many consider the Bengals’ schedule to get easier as the season progresses, and there is no reason not to be optimistic for the team’s chances to bounce back this year as well.