Cincinnati Bengals, professional football team and
one of four teams in the North Division of the American
Football Conference (AFC) of the National Football
League (NFL). The Bengals play at Paul Brown Stadium.
The team wears uniforms of orange, black, and white.
The franchise was named after the Cincinnati Bengals
football team that played in the now-defunct American
Football League between 1937 and 1941.
The Bengals joined a different American Football
League (AFL) as an expansion team in 1968. The club
was organized by Paul Brown, who as a coach had won
three NFL titles with the Cleveland Browns during
the 1950s. In the Bengals’ first season, running
back Paul Robinson led the AFL in rushing and was
named rookie of the year.
Cincinnati joined the NFL in 1970 when the NFL and
AFL completed their merger. The team won the AFC Central
Division in its first NFL season, relying especially
on an outstanding defense that starred cornerbacks
Lemar Parrish and Ken Riley. In the playoffs the Bengals
lost in the first round.
Brown guided the Bengals to postseason appearances
again in 1973 and 1975, and Ken Anderson emerged as
one of the NFL’s finest quarterbacks. He won
three consecutive passing titles from 1973 to 1975
with the help of wide receiver Isaac Curtis and tight
end Bob Trumpy. Another favorite target of Anderson
was running back Boobie Clark, the 1973 rookie of
the year. Cincinnati lost in the first round of the
playoffs in both 1973 and 1975.
Following several coaching changes and mixed results
over the next few seasons, the Bengals won the division
crown in 1981 under head coach Forrest Gregg, a former
offensive tackle and a member of the Hall of Fame.
Anderson won his fourth passing title, and running
back Pete Johnson and rookie wide receiver Cris Collinsworth
each gained more than 1,000 yards. In the playoffs,
Cincinnati defeated the Buffalo Bills and the San
Diego Chargers before losing to the San Francisco
49ers in the Super Bowl, 26-21.
The Bengals remained competitive throughout the mid-1980s.
Boomer Esiason replaced Anderson in 1985 and, like
his predecessor, became one of the NFL’s premier
quarterbacks. Following a 4-11 win-loss record in
1987, Cincinnati finished the 1988 season with a 12-4
mark. Esiason won the first of his two NFC passing
titles and shared player of the year honors with Philadelphia
Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham. Running back
James Brooks, wide receiver Eddie Brown, and tackle
Anthony Munoz also starred in the AFC’s top-rated
offense. In the playoffs the Bengals advanced to their
second Super Bowl of the decade. Once there, however,
Cincinnati again lost to the 49ers when San Francisco
scored a last-minute touchdown.
In 1990 Cincinnati won its fifth division title.
Esiason notched his sixth consecutive 3,000-yard season,
a club record. The Bengals won a total of just 11
games from 1992 to 1994, and the team continued to
struggle for much of the rest of the 1990s.
In Super Bowl XXIII, they lost 20-16 to the 49ers
on a last-minute touchdown pass by Joe Montana.
In addition to Anderson and Esiason, the Bengals
have been able to boast of many outstanding players
since their first game in 1968. None, however, was
more outstanding than tackle Anthony Muñoz,
a first-round draft pick in 1981. A perennial all-pro
choice, the USC graduate was selected to play in 11
straight Pro Bowls from 1982 to 1992 and was inducted
into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
1982 Super Bowl XVI Lost to San Francisco 49ers,
1989 Super Bowl XXIII Lost to San Francisco 49ers,
Club Records >>
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