“Turn out the lights, the party’s over.”
The year was 1972, and “Dandy” Don Meredith was in only his third year of a 15-year run as the color commentator opposite Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football. It was also the last time the Los Angeles Rams had a winning record against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Rams (who later became the St. Louis Rams and are now the Los Angeles Rams) won the inaugural meeting with the Bengals by a score of 15-12. Cincinnati, however, has since won eight of the next 13 matchups.
Probably two of the better games between the two teams came in 1978 and 1990, respectively.
On December 11, 1978, a Rams team that was riding high with an 11-3 record and victories in three of its previous four games came to Riverfront Stadium to face a dismal Bengals team that had notched only two wins in its first 14 games, having been outscored by an overall margin 249-184.
But, on the strength of a 46-yard touchdown toss from Kenny Anderson to Isaac Curtis, a two-yard scoring plunge by Pete Johnson and a pair of Chris Bahr field goals, Cincinnati escaped with a 20-19 win.
Anderson finished the day 13-of-27 for 227 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, while Johnson rushed for 86 yards on 16 carries. Archie Griffin contributed 64 yards on 16 attempts as the Bengals got the better of the Pat Haden-led Rams.
The roles were reversed on October 7, 1990, when a 1-3 Rams team visited the 4-1 Bengals in what turned out to be yet another nail-biter.
Cincinnati jumped out to a 21-7 halftime lead, only to see Los Angeles charge back to tie it at 31-31 on a Mike Lansford 40-yard field goal. The Bengals won it in overtime when Jim Breech booted his second field goal of the day, this time from 44 yards out.
This was the day when Cincinnati quarterback Boomer Esiason set the Bengals’ record for most passing yards in a game with 490 yards, on the strength of a 31-for-45 effort that included a pair of touchdowns to James Brooks and a third to Harold Green.
Of course, as everyone knows, Joe Burrow eclipsed Esiason’s record this year when he threw for 525 yards against the Ravens.
Brooks finished this day with 10 carries for 44 yards and added another 109 yards on seven receptions. Green added 54 yards rushing on 15 carries and had four catches for 50 yards. Tight end Rodney Holman was the Bengals’ leading receiver with 10 catches for 161 yards and Tim McGee added eight receptions for 142 yards.
But that was then, and this is now. And, no matter what happens on Sunday, the Bengals will still have a winning record against the Rams. Let’s just hope that record includes the Lombardi Trophy!