Before the Cincinnati Bengals were added to the American Football League in 1967, there was a previous professional football organization in Cincinnati formed in 1937. The earliest Cincinnati franchise disbanded in 1941 as a result of World War II.
The current Cincinnati Bengals franchise was founded by Paul Brown.
The Bengals were fruitless in their attempt to win their first franchise game as they were defeated by the San Diego Chargers on September 6, 1968 in San Diego. The first franchise victory occurred on their home field at Nippert Stadium when they defeated the Denver Broncos by a score of 24-10. The Bengals, however, would only record two additional wins throughout their inaugural season in the AFL.
The AFL became the American Football Conference of the National Football League in 1970. The Bengals were placed in the AFC Central Division. Furthermore, the Bengals introduced their new home, Riverfront Stadium. They christened the new stadium with a 31-21 victory over the visiting Oakland Raiders. The Bengals would emerge as one of the AFC’s top teams as their seven-game winning streak catapulted them into the top spot in the AFC Central Division. For the first time, the Bengals would appear in the NFL post-season. However, a 17-0 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champions, the Baltimore Colts, ended their first winning season.
In 1975, Paul Brown replaced himself with Bill Johnson as head coach. Brown opted to focus on his ownership and administrating obligations.
After concluding the 1981 regular season with an AFC best 12-4 record, the Bengals returned to the post-season. After eliminating the Buffalo Bills and San Diego Chargers, the Bengals earned their first Super Bowl appearance. The San Francisco 49ers proved to be formidable opponents in Super Bowl XVI as they toppled the Cincinnati Bengals 26-21.
In 1984, rookie quarterback Boomer Esiason replaced long-time starter and MVP quarterback Kenny Anderson.
It was like deja vu for the Bengals in 1988 as they finished the regular season with a 12-4 record, and faced the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl, as was the case seven years earlier. However, this time, it was the Bengals that controlled the scoreboard. With a mere 34 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, 49ers quarterback Joe Montana found wide receiver John Taylor in the end zone, giving the 49ers the 20-16 come-from-behind victory. It was another heartbreaking Super Bowl defeat for the Bengals and their fans.
After clinching a playoff berth in 1990, the Bengals would begin an excruciating streak of 14 successive seasons without a winning record.
In 1999, the Bengals relocated to their new home field, CINergy Field (now Paul Brown stadium), after 29 years of hosting games at Riverfront Stadium.
The Bengals were placed in the AFC North Division as a result of the NFL realignment in 2002. The AFC North Division included the Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Baltimore Ravens.
In the 2003 NFL Draft, the Bengals selected quarterback Carson Palmer out of USC in the first round. Marvin Lewis was hired as the Bengals head coach.
The 2005 NFL season signified better times for the Cincinnati Bengals franchise. The team was led by a cast of characters such as quarterback Carson Palmer, running back Rudi Johnson, and the colorful wide receiver Chad Johnson. Not only did the Bengals collect their first winning season since 1990, they also won the AFC North Division title, which was also their first division crown since 1990. The welcomed revival of the Cincinnati Bengals franchise ended with a 31-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Many Bengals fans will rationalize that Carson Palmer’s first-quarter knee injury was the primary reason for the Bengals loss. The victorious Steelers would move on and capture the Super Bowl.