The Five Most Gut-Punching Cincinnati Bengals Losses of All Time

John Breech@@johnbreechCorrespondent ISeptember 16, 2009

(Most Bengals fans would love to knock the smile off Joe Montana's [pictured right] face.)

For most NFL fanbases, losing a game on an 87-yard tipped touchdown pass would probably be the low point in franchise history.

Not in Cincinnati, though. Nightmares happen here more often than on Elm Street.

The truth is that no Cincinnati fan over the age of six actually thought the game was over after Cedric Benson's touchdown.

With 38 seconds left in the game, I swear to David Klingler I had this exact thought:

"I bet Kyle Orton throws a high liner for Brandon Marshall that Leon Hall tips into the air, it will be caught by Brandon Stokley, who hasn't had a catch all day, and he'll scamper 87 yards for a touchdown."

OK, so I didn't think that. I was thinking more along the lines of, "I bet Matt Prater makes a 68-yard field goal left-footed with no shoe on."

Hopefully you get the point here—Bengals fans have very active imaginations when it comes to ways to lose a game.

Anyway, let's get to the five most gut-punching losses ever. Please get out the puke bucket because your stomach is going to get queasy...

Honorable Mention

Sept. 19, 1976 at Baltimore—28-27

Maybe the Bengals should just forfeit weeks one and two to make things easier on the fans. In week two of 1976, the Bengals watched their 27-21 lead disappear late in the fourth quarter on a Roosevelt Leaks two-yard touchdown run.

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Cincinnati would finish 10-4 and out of the playoffs. The Colts would go 11-3 and be the last team in.

Jan. 24, 1982, Super Bowl XVI

The Bengals' first foray into the big game almost turned into embarrassment when they found themselves down 20-0 at halftime. However, the Bengals came within inches of a miraculous third quarter comeback.

On first-and-goal from the one, Cincinnati had four chances to punch the ball in for a touchdown that would have cut the 49er lead to 20-14.

However, this is the Bengals, so we all know what happens. Bengals don't get in, 49ers end up winning 26-21.

Sept. 13, 2009 vs. Broncos—12-7

You know what happened. The immaculate deflection. Let's just say that historically, the Bengals do not respond well to adversity. See the past 18 seasons for reference.

Sept. 12, 1999 vs. Tennessee—36-35

On opening day 1999, the Bengals managed to blow a 35-26 lead in the fourth quarter. Al Del Greco hit the game winner as time trickled down.

Dec. 31, 2006 vs. Pittsburgh—23-17, OT

Mr. Almost Always Automatic Shayne Graham goes wide on a 39-yard attempt that would have put the Bengals in the playoffs. This is probably just as painful as game No. 5 on the list, but No. 5 shows off Bengal ineptitude, which no other franchise can match.

5. Dec. 24, 2006 at Denver

Ninety-nine percent of Bengals fans had a flashback to this game on Sunday.

Either you did it after Brad St. Louis botched the snap on the first half field goal. Or you kept saying to yourself after Cedric Benson's touchdown, "They're going to screw up the extra point, I just know it."

We all remember this Christmas Eve classic. St. Louis and holder Kyle Larsen look like they've never held or snapped a ball in their lives. Blah, blah, blah, read this post for the rest of the story.

Bottom line: This game costs Cincinnati a playoff spot. Bengals lose 24-23.

4. TIE: Oct. 30, 1994 vs. Dallas and Oct. 20, 1996 at San Francisco

I think you'll notice that the 49ers are on this list 17 times.

Anyway, in the Dallas game, the 0-8 Bengals are 17-point underdogs to the defending Super Bowl champs.

Jeff "Shake 'n" Blake comes out firing and hits Darnay Scott with two long touchdown passes (67, 55) as the Bengals shoot out to a 14-0 lead. Um, let's see, how does this game end again?

How about Cowboys kicker Chris Boniol hitting a late fourth quarter field goal for a 23-20 Cowboys win?

The 49ers-Bengals game also involves a bomb or two to Scott, only this time the Bengals would jump out to a 21-0 lead.

Then Steve Young, who, if you believe the announcers, was dying of cancer in the second half, made a miraculous comeback.

49ers win 28-21 with a fourth quarter touchdown. Young is called a hero, a trooper, and probably would have been named Pope if he wasn't Mormon.

3. Sept. 20, 1987 at Cincinnati vs. San Francisco

Former Bengals kicker Jim Breech is going to love this list because three of the five losses listed cost him fame, fortune, and probably his own Cessna.

In this game that most fans don't remember and pretty much is the equivalent of getting hit in the face with a tire iron, Breech hit four field goals (23, 42, 41, 46), including two in the fourth quarter that gave Cincy a 26-20 lead.

With six seconds showing on the clock, the Bengals had the ball on their own 31.

Coach Sam Wyche didn't want to risk a blocked punt, so he had running back James Brooks run a sweep, the thought being that the speedy Brooks could run out six seconds.

But this is the Bengals, so we all know that didn't happen.

Brooks loses six yards and is tripped up at the 25-yard line with one second left.

That turns out to be all the time Joe Montana needs to hit Jerry Rice for a game-winning touchdown.

Ray Wersching's extra point means the 49ers escape Riverfront with a 27-26 win.

If you're looking for a gut-punching last second loss where there is no time left on the clock, this is it.

2. Sept. 20, 1992 at Green Bay

(Sept. 20 must be cursed. This game, the game above. None of this bodes well for this Sunday's game.)

I won't go into detail here about this game because I've written about it here on b/r.  Let's just say Bengals kicker Breech hits a 41-yard field goal to give Cincy a 23-17 lead with 1:11 showing on the clock.

The ensuing kickoff leaves the Pack at their own eight-yard line. 

What do the Packers have going against them?

Top receiver Sterling Sharpe goes out one play into the drive thanks to an injury. Starting quarterback Don Majkowski had already gone down in the first half, so Green Bay needed their backup quarterback (a second-year castoff from Atlanta) to drive them 92 yards, which is the equivalent of putting a homeless guy in a chemistry lab and asking him to cure AIDS. 

What do you think happens? It's the Bengals, and it's the game that makes Brett Favre a legend. Packers 24-23.

Even more heartbreaking, the Bengals were 2-0 going into this game. They would finish the season 5-11.

1. Super Bowl XXIII

(I'll let YouTube explain this one.)

But let's just say, Breech makes his cameo appearance with 3:16 left in this game when he hits a 40-yard field goal to put the team up 16-13.

Bengals fans get happy.

Bengals fans realize they will probably lose.

Bengals fans knew this was coming, so crying was kept to a minimum.

(John Breech is the Sports Editor at the Beacon newspaper in Roswell, Ga.   He also runs the third coolest blog on the Internet Its Never Sunny in Cincinnati.) 

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