By Conrad Clowers
Herald Sports Writer
I started covering the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1990 season. They went to the playoffs that season. They lost in the second round. It would be 16 years before they would go to the playoffs again. It would be 31 years before a playoff game was won. The magical 2021 season continues as the Cincinnati Bengals, once the biggest joke in the NFL, are one step away from playing in the largest game in Western civilization. It will be their first Super Bowl since the 1988-89 season.
Once again, the Bengals proved all the naysayers wrong. The team went to Tennessee and defeated the Derrick Henry led Titans 19-16. The story continues to be the same one that got them to that point. Joe Burrow, Joe Burrow, and more Borrow. The second year QB out of LSU continues to be the generational talent he was advertised to be. Despite being put on the ground with 9 sacks, Burrow still mustered over 300 yards of passing and sacrificing his own body for first downs to lead the Bengals to a 19-16 victory. The Tennessee win will go down as one of the most strangely-odd-defying victories the team has ever had. No quarterback has ever been sacked nine times and had the team win.
The City of Cincinnati now has a vibrancy not seen in a long time. Normally, you can go into any store, such as Target, Walmart, Meijers and find much Bengal gear 40-60% off. Now, not only will you not find the discounts, the stock will like go quickly.
Bengal head coach Zac Taylor is in his third year as Bengals head coach. Cincinnati has a third year coach going to bars and giving game balls to fans. No Bengal coach has ever reportedly gone to bars and given game balls to fans.
If the Bengals are to make it to their third Super Bowl, they will have to knock off the team that has won the last two AFC title games. The Kansas City Chiefs earned the right to meet the Bengals in what many say was the most thrilling playoff game ever. Kansas City defeated the Buffalo Bills in overtime 42-36.
Even in Burrow’s second year, there are few more ballyhooed quarterbacks in the NFL. But Kansas City has one that is. Patrick Mahomes did not receive a $503 million dollar contract for nothing. He is the best in the game. Mahomes may be inconsistent at times, but when #15 gets behind center, he always gives his team a chance to win with his sheer talent.
Burrow does the same. Cincinnati and Kansas City mirror each other in ways. Sundays’ title game will be billed as Burrow and Chase vs. Mahomes and Hill. Two dynamic receivers with tow dynamic quarterbacks.
The difference may come down to defense. Cincinnati is playing some of its best defense of the season, while Kansas City is not only formidable, but can get to the QB. Hold the Chief’s defensive line, and you enter your third Super Bowl.