When is the last time Bengals went to a Super Bowl? History of Cincinnati’s big game appearances

The Bengals are on the verge of history.

It has been a long time since Cincinnati has made the trip to the Super Bowl, or even made it to the conference championship, for that matter. Yet on Sunday, the Bengals will play for the chance to make the trip to Los Angeles in what would be just the third Super Bowl bid in franchise history.

Just reaching the game alone would be history for the team. Winning it would be another major step for one of the NFL’s franchises that has yet to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

Sporting News dives into the history of the Bengals, and their history in the Super Bowl ahead of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Chiefs.

Bengals Super Bowl history

When is the last time the Bengals went to a Super Bowl?

The last time Cincinnati played for a title was 1989. It was the second trip to the big game the team had made in its franchise history, and the second time it had faced the 49ers.

Cincinnati had gone 12-4 in the regular season under the guidance of coach Sam Wyche and were led under center by quarterback Boomer Esiason, who was the league MVP that season. The Bengals took a late 16-13 lead in the Super Bowl, but Joe Montana hit John Taylor with a 10-yard touchdown pass in the fourth to take the lead and ultimately win the game 20-16 for his third of four Super Bowl rings .

The first time Cincinnati played the 49ers in the Super Bowl, Montana was still under center, but it was Ken Anderson leading the Bengals. Like Esiason, Anderson was the league MVP for the 1981 season and capped off the year by taking Cincinnati to the Super Bowl, its first-ever trip to the big game.

The 49ers took a 20-0 first-half lead, but Cincinnati scored 14 unanswered to start the second half. San Francisco kicked a pair of field goals to stay out in front, however, despite a late touchdown from Anderson to Dan Ross as Montana claimed his first ring in a 26-21 victory.

Game Date Opponent Result MVP
Super Bowl 16 Jan. 24, 1982 49ers 49ers 26, Bengals 21 Joe Montana
Super Bowl 23 Jan. 22, 1989 49ers 49ers 20, Bengals 16 Jerry Rice

How many Super Bowls have the Bengals won?

The answer to that, unfortunately for Cincinnati fans, is zero.

The Bengals are one of 12 teams currently in the league that do not have any Super Bowl victories in their franchise’s history. It is one of the four expansion teams created during the Super Bowl era that have not won, along with the Panthers, Jaguars and Titans.

The first year of the Super Bowl was 1966, and Cincinnati’s first season was 1968.

Most Super Bowl appearances without a win

The Bengals are not alone among teams that have reached the final stage multiple times and leave empty-handed.

There have been four other teams that have reached the Super Bowl at least twice without success.

Team Losses Most Recent Appearance
Vikings 4 1976
Bills 4 1993
Bengals 2 1988
Panthers 2 2015
Falcons 2 2016

Should Cincinnati advance to Super Bowl 56 and lose, it would move into sole possession of third place. Should they win, the Bengals would get to leave this list.

The Cardinals, Chargers and Titans are each 0-1 in the Super Bowl.

Longest Super Bowl appearance drought

Cincinnati has gone a long time without appearing in the Super Bowl.

Among teams that have been to a Super Bowl, only three teams have had a longer absence: the Jets, Vikings and Dolphins.

Team Date Result
Jets Jan. 12, 1969 Jets 16, Colts 7
Vikings Jan. 9, 1977 Raiders 32, Vikings 14
Dolphins Jan. 20, 1985 49ers 38, Dolphins 16
Bengals Jan. 22, 1989 49ers 20, Bengals 16
Washington Jan. 26, 1992 Redskins 37, Bills 24

That does not include the list of teams that have never been to a Super Bowl, which had its first edition in 1966.

Team Year Founded Farthest NFL Playoff Round
Lions 1930 Conference Championship
Browns 1946 Conference Championship
Jaguars 1995 Conference Championship
Texans 2002 Divisional Round

The Browns won eight championships before the Super Bowl, four in the All American Football Championship and four in the NFL, with the most recent being in 1964. The Lions have four NFL Championship titles, most recently winning in 1957.

Super Bowl rematches

On the table as a possible outcome is that the Bengals and 49ers meet again in the Super Bowl for a third time.

There already have only been a handful of rematches in the Super Bowl to begin with, and just two teams have met three times in the final round.

Teams Matchups
Steelers Vs. Cowboys 3
Dolphins Vs. Redskins 2
49ers vs. Bengals 2
Cowboys vs. Bills 2
Patriots vs. Eagles 2
Patriots vs. Giants 2
Patriots vs. Rams 2

The Bengals and 49ers would join only the Cowboys and Steelers as the two teams that have met each other three times in the Super Bowl.

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