Let's rewind the clock back to early January 2006, when the youthful and talented Cincinnati Bengals were set to host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs.
The sky was the limit for the Bengals, or so it seemed.
Under center was a young Carson Palmer, who firmly placed himself in the conversation as it pertained to the top signal callers in the league.
His targets consisted of the dynamic duo Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmanzadeh, and when they wanted to go for a change of pace, bruising back Rudi Johnson answered the bell.
All this was made possibly by a solid offensive line, anchored by Eric Steinbach and Willie Anderson.
On the other side of the ball, they weren't elite, but guys like Odell Thurman and David Pollack certainly had promising futures.
Their opponent, the Steelers, were in the midst of a 25-year Super Bowl drought, as the iron city crew was mostly known for their choke jobs in AFC Championship games at home in the modern era.
Just to even get into the playoffs, they had to win their final four games in a row.
It was a day of promise for Cincinnati Bengals fans, a day where we thought all the problems of the past were finally solved.
Besides, the Bengals had beaten the Steelers weeks earlier—at Heinz Field nonetheless.
In one play, the party was over, the dream was crushed, and things have never been the same since for either organization.
The Steelers are back on top of the world, owners of two Lombardi trophies in the past five years, and the Bengals are back to their losing ways.
Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward, among others, have become household names
On the other side, Palmer has turned into an average quarterback, skittish from that injury. Johnson is now Ochocinco and a reality TV "star," and others are long gone.
Not to mention, the various off-field meltdowns have plagued this team as well.
In essence, despite the lost season, people still look forward at the chance of knocking off the Steelers. But for me, while that would be nice, seeing those black and gold uniforms will always remind me of 2005 when all was finally right in Bengal-land, but quickly lost.
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