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Third Time’s the Charm?

By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.

The Cincinnati Bengals are one of only 12 NFL teams to have never won a Super Bowl. In fact, it’s been a while since the franchise even appeared in the big game. (The last time the Bengals were in the Super Bowl, current head coach Zac Taylor was just five years old. QB Joe Burrow was seven years away from being born.) In both previous appearances, Cincinnati lost by narrow margins to one of football’s all-time great teams – Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers.

Here’s a recap of the Bengals’ Super Bowl history. The Bengals are four-point underdogs to the Los Angeles Rams this Sunday. Could the third time be the charm?

SUPER BOWL XVI: January 24, 1982. Inside the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan, the 49ers raced out to a 0-0 halftime lead, then withstood a Bengals rally to win their first Super Bowl championship, 26-21. Montana was named the game’s MVP after throwing for 157 yards and accounting for two TDs (one passing, one rushing). The MVP daily could have been placekicker Ray Wersching, who booted four FGs and two extra points to tally more than half of the Niners’ point total.

For the Bengals, the star of the game was veteran QB Ken Anderson, who was named both the NFL MVP and NFL Comeback Player of the Year that season. Anderson completed 25 of 34 pass attempts for 300 yards, two TDs and two INTs. Both of his TDs came in the final quarter, including a three-yard dart to Dan Ross with just 16 seconds left in the contest. Trailing by five, the Bengals attempted an onside kick, but San Francisco recovered to end the game.

SUPER BOWL XXIII: January 2, 1989. The Bengals and 49ers met again seven years later, this time at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami. A bit of “Montana Magic” once again spelled doom for Cincinnati, as the future Hall of Famer’s 10-yard TD strike to receiver John Taylor with just 34 seconds left in the game gave the Niners the comeback victory.

This was a low-scoring contest. The Bengals’ offense, led by QB Boomer Esiason and RB Ickey Woods, failed to score a TD. Cincinnati’s lone TD came on Stanford Jennings’ 93-yard kickoff return in the third quarter.

San Francisco WR Jerry Rice was the game’s MVP. Rice snared 11 passes for 215 yards and a TD.

TRIVIA NOTE: NBC football analyst Cris Collinsworth played for the Bengals in both Super Bowls. In Super Bowl XVI, the speedy receiver caught five passes for 107 yards. In Super Bowl XXIII, Collinsworth totaled three receptions for 40 receiving yards.

Collinsworth and his broadcast partner Al Michaels will be calling Super Bowl LVI for NBC this Sunday. The game will also air locally on both ESPN Honolulu and CBS 1500. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.

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