If you’re a fan of sports, you’ve got to love a playmaker. It’s always fun to watch an athlete that can take over a game with an individual performance, carrying a team on their back or coming up in clutch situations.
There are high expectations for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013 after making the playoffs for the second straight season in 2012, the first time they did that since the 1981 and 1982 seasons.
They had some big games from playmakers like A.J. Green, Andy Dalton, Vontaze Burfict and Geno Atkins, to name a few. If they want to make it back to the playoffs and get over the hump with a win, they are going to need some big games from their playmakers on offense and defense.
But were any of their performances among the best individual game performances in Bengals history?
There have been plenty of playmakers for Cincinnati over the years, and I’ve tried to narrow it down to the best individual game performances of all time.
These three players had performances that just missed the cut.
Terrell Owens had 222 yards receiving and one touchdown in a 23-20 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 3, 2010. That is Owen's second most yards receiving in a single game, behind a 283-yard effort in a game against the Chicago Bears when he was with the San Francisco 49ers.
As a rookie and undrafted free agent, Vontaze Burfict set a Bengals record for tackles in a game when he had 13 solo and 2 assisted tackles in a 24-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 21, 2012.
Peter Warrick scored two critical touchdowns in the fourth quarter when the Bengals beat the then-undefeated Kansas City Chiefs 24-19 at Paul Brown Stadium on Nov. 16, 2003. He returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown early in the quarter and caught a 77-yard touchdown pass from Jon Kitna to put the Bengals ahead 24-12 with about six minutes left in the game.
Ken Anderson completed 90.91 percent of his passes in a 17-10 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 10, 1974. That is the 11th-best single-game completion percentage with a minimum of 20 pass attempts in NFL history.
While it may seem like the 11th-best performance in NFL history should be ranked higher than this, I can’t rank it higher than 10th on this list because Anderson didn’t throw for any touchdowns in the game.
He was 20-for-22 passing, which is an awesome accomplishment, but he only threw for 227 yards in the game, and both touchdowns came on short runs by running back Ed Williams.
Chad Johnson had 209 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 11 receptions in an exciting shootout that the Bengals lost 51-45 against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 16, 2007. His longest reception in the game was only for 32 yards.
Even though Cincinnati lost the game when Carson Palmer threw an interception on a pass intended for Johnson with 28 seconds left, it was still a heck of a game for Ochocinco.
There is no doubt that Johnson is one of the Bengals’ all-time best playmakers, but this performance was one of his best.
It was his second most receiving yards in a game in his career and one of his two 200-plus yard receiving days.
James Brooks ran for 163 yards and one touchdown on 18 attempts while also gaining 101 yards receiving on six receptions in a 31-7 win at New England on Dec. 7, 1986.
Brooks’ performance has to be on this list because he is one of only two Bengals players to ever have 100-plus yards rushing and receiving in a single game.
I am putting this one spot higher than Johnson's 209-yard, two-touchdown effort because Brooks’ 264 yards from scrimmage is the third most in Bengals history. While Johnson scored two touchdowns in his performance, his longest gain was for 32 yards, compared to Brooks who scored on a 56-yard rush in the fourth quarter.
It is the most sacks for a player in a single game in Bengals history and is tied for the seventh most in NFL history. The most sacks for a player in a game is seven by Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Odom’s career high for sacks in a season was eight in both 2007 (when he played for the Tennessee Titans) and 2009. It’s pretty remarkable that he was able to get five of those sacks in a game that early on in the season.
Just like Johnson’s other 200-plus yard receiving game, the Bengals were involved in a shootout that they lost.
I just can’t let that fact diminish what a historic performance this was for Johnson and Cincinnati.
He scored on a 74-yard pass and a 51-yard pass from Carson Palmer. The 74-yard pass was the second-longest reception of his career.
That feat tied him for the second most made field goals in a single game in NFL history.
Graham was a perfect 7-for-7 in field goals on the day, scoring all 21 points for Cincinnati.
None of them were long ones though, the longest ones being 35-yarders. He made four field goals from 33-35 yards, two from 21-22 yards and one from 19 yards.
Hey, it’s not his fault the Bengals couldn’t score touchdowns.
The only person to make more field goals in a single game is Tennessee’s Rob Bironas, who made eight in a game in 2007.
It is the most passing yards in a game in Bengals history by a substantial margin (43 yards) and is tied for 19th most in NFL history.
Boomer is one of the greats as he led the Bengals from the mid-eighties to the early nineties and even got them to the Super Bowl, but this was arguably one of the best individual performances of his career.
The only thing keeping this performance from being higher is that Esiason only threw three touchdowns in the game.
Carson Palmer threw six touchdown passes on 401 yards passing in a 51-45 loss in Cleveland on Sept. 16, 2007.
His six touchdown passes are a Bengals record and is tied for sixth most passing touchdowns in a game in NFL history.
Even though Cincinnati lost the game when he threw an interception on a pass intended for Chad Johnson with 28 seconds left, it was Palmer's best individual performance of his career.
I guess it’s pretty hard to win a game when your defense gives up 51 points. Palmer and the Bengals had a chance at the end, though, and in hindsight, that game ended a lot like many more would as Palmer’s career in Cincinnati continued its roller coaster ride.
Corey Dillon scored four touchdowns, rushed for 246 yards and had two receptions for 30 yards in a 41-14 win against the Tennessee Oilers on Dec. 4, 1997.
Man, I had almost forgotten what a total beast of a running back Dillon was for the Bengals during the “lost decade.”
Those numbers are just insane. Granted, three of his touchdowns were on goal-line runs, but he also had a 31-yard rushing touchdown as well as a long gain of 59 yards.
At the time, he had beaten Walter Payton’s record of 275 yards for most rushing yards by an individual in a game. As it stands now, his 278 yards is the most individual single-game rushing yards in Bengals history and the fourth most all time in the NFL.
For a team that was 0-6 at the time, this was the ultimate example of an athlete putting his team on his back and willing them to a victory.
It was and still is one of the most historic and dominant individual performances not only in NFL history, but in major American sports.