As 2010 begins, the Cincinnati Bengals will be starting the new decade off just right by entering the playoffs as a No. 3 or No. 4 seed and at least one home game at Paul Brown Stadium.
Over the last 10 years, the Bengals have seen just two winning seasons. In 2005, they finished the season with an 11-5 record and made the playoffs for the first time since 1990.
Cincinnati and their fans have seen some memorable games over the last decade and hope to continue this trend over the next 10 years. As a treat to ring in the new decade and celebrate New Year's Day, here are the top five most memorable games for the Bengals from the last decade.
Honorable Mention Sept. 16, 2007: Cincinnati Bengals 45 , Cleveland Browns 51
This game would have meant more to Cincinnati and their fans if the Bengals had actually won the game. On the positive note, at least the game was still exciting to watch.
In the second week of the 2007 regular season, the Bengals and Browns went back and fourth in scoring in what ended up being the eighth highest-scoring game in NFL history.
Carson Palmer arguably had one of the best performances of his career, finishing 33-of-50 for 401 yards and a franchise record six touchdowns. Unfortunately, Browns quarterback Derek Anderson almost performed just as well, completing 20-of-38 passes for 328 yards and five touchdowns.
5. December 18, 2005: Cincinnati Bengals 41, Detroit Lions 17
2005 was the first time in 15 years the Bengals reached the postseason. In a 41-17 win over Detroit in Week 15, Cincinnati clinched the AFC North. They would finish the year with an 11-5 record (they won over the 11-5 Pittsburgh Steelers due to a better record against divisional opponents).
They would go on lose to the Steelers in the first round of the playoffs after Palmer suffered a knee injury on the second offensive play of the game, but it was still a memorable season for the Bengals.
For so long, the fan base in Cincinnati had been waiting for a winning season and a trip to the playoffs. The win over the Lions secured both for the Bengals, which is a game that will always be remembered by fans.
4. November 16, 2008: Cincinnati Bengals 13, Philadelphia Eagles 13
Prior to the game, the 5-4 Eagles came in as heavy favorites over the 1-8 Bengals. With Palmer out most of the season due to an elbow injury, Ryan Fitzpatrick led the offense but was nowhere near as effective.
Even with all of their struggles that season, Cincinnati still managed to compete with a very talented Philadelphia squad as wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh tied a career high with 12 receptions for 149 yards and one touchdown. The defense picked off Donovan McNabb three times and forced him to fumble once in what ended up being the first tie in the NFL since 2002 between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons.
While the game ended in a tie, the Bengals had a chance to seal the win after kicker Shayne Graham missed a 47-yard field goal as time expired in overtime. For once, both set of fans were frustrated with the outcome of the game.
3. October 30, 2005: Cincinnati Bengals 21, Green Bay Packers 14
The Bengals improved to 6-2 after their win over the Packers during Week Eight of the 2005 regular season thanks to a strong performance by their defense against one of the all-time greatest quarterbacks.
Not only did the defense sack Packers quarterback Brett Favre twice, but they intercepted him five times in one of the worst games of his career. Odell Thurman and Deltha O'Neal each had two interceptions while Tory James recorded one.
The rest of the season is history as Cincinnati went on to win the AFC North title and make their first playoff appearance since 1990.
2. September 27, 2009: Cincinnati Bengals 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 20
Entering the 2009 season, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger started off his NFL career 11-0 against teams in the state of Ohio. On top of that, Pittsburgh had won their last eight games played in Cincinnati. It wasn't just the fact that both streaks came to an end in Week Three this season, but how it was done.
With the Bengals trailing 20-9 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Palmer rallied his team to score 14 points to make a statement that the defending Super Bowl Champions and the Baltimore Ravens were not the only contenders in the AFC North.
After running back Cedric Benson found the end zone on a 23-yard run, Palmer capped off the rally with a four-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Andre Caldwell with 14 seconds left on 2nd-and-goal. Two plays prior, Palmer found running back Brian Leonard on 4th-and-10 from the Pittsburgh 15 to gain a first down thanks to a miraculous second effort.
It doesn't take rocket science to figure out how much the fans of Cincinnati love to beat Pittsburgh. Without a doubt, this was the sweetest win for the Bengals over their division rivals.
1. November 16, 2003: Cincinnati Bengals 24, Kansas City Chiefs 19
Throughout his nine-year career, Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco has built a reputation as a player who enjoys having fun by running his mouth against not only players, but teams. In 2003, he made one of the biggest—and craziest—predictions of his career.
In Week 11 of the 2003 regular season, Ochocinco made a prediction that the 5-4 Bengals would upset the 9-0 Chiefs at Paul Brown Stadium. As crazy as it sounded at the time, Ochocinco—who went by Johnson back then—and the Bengals came through in the 24-19 upset.
Ochocinco finished the day with seven receptions for 74 yards while Peter Warrick led the team with six receptions for 114 yards and one touchdown. Rudi Johnson also carried the team on the ground, rushing for 165 yards on just 22 carries.
Of course, Cincinnati would have come through without the impressive performance of their defense, who shut down Chiefs running back Priest Holmes. While he finished the regular season with 1,420 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns, Holmes was kept out of the end zone by a Bengals defense who held him to just 62 yards on 16 carries.
Even though the Bengals just missed the playoffs that season with an 8-8 record, their win over the previously undefeated Chiefs was one of the best games of the decade. For the first time in a while, the fans of Cincinnati felt confident of what their future held with new head coach Marvin Lewis.
Dan Parzych is the Cincinnati Bengals Examiner for Examiner.com
He is also the founder of WhoDeyBengals.com
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