It feels like a lifetime ago that the Cincinnati Bengals were playing on the NFL’s biggest stage.
Yet, despite the recent struggles of the team and their continued journey to get over the playoff hump, there was once a time that the Bengals made not one, but two trips to the Super Bowl in an eight-year span.
While neither journey to the NFL’s biggest stage ended in glorious victory for the orange and black, there will still plenty of great memories in each battle for the Lombardi Trophy.
Here are two of my favorite moments from each Super Bowl trip for the Bengals:
Super Bowl XVI: Bengals recover opening kickoff
The Bengals’ start to their first Super Bowl trip was a promising one. After returning the opening kickoff 17 yards, 49ers return man Amos Lawrence was hit by Bengals linebacker Guy Frazier and fumbled at his own 26-yard line, marking the first time in a Super Bowl that a turnover took place on the opening kickoff.
John Simmons recovered for Cincinnati, and just like that, the Bengals were in great position to score on what should have been the 49ers’ first possession. To beat a team in the midst of what would become a dynasty, this was exactly the kind of play the Bengals needed to get on the board early and truly believe they could win this game.
Alas, that great start was short lived after Ken Anderson threw an interception at the goal line to prevent the Bengals from capitalizing.
Super Bowl XXIII: Jennings’ run to daylight
This was the Super Bowl moment that most Bengals fans will remember most. With less than a minute left in the third quarter of a 6-6 game, it appeared that this would become the first Super Bowl ever to go three quarters without either team scoring a touchdown.
But on the ensuing kickoff, Bengals return ace Stanford Jennings received the ball at the 7-yard line, ran straight up the middle and burst into the open field for a 93-yard touchdown return, giving the Bengals a 13–6 lead.
Jennings joined Fulton Walker as the only other player at that time to return a kickoff for a touchdown in the Super Bowl. It also marked the first go-ahead touchdown the Bengals scored in either of their trips to the Super Bowl.
In a game where neither offense did much of anything until the final drive, this was easily the biggest play of the night of Cincinnati.
Now, it’s your turn. What are the best Super Bowl moments for Cincinnati in your mind?