DENVER — The last time the Cincinnati Bengals were in the National Football League’s (NFL) championship game was Super Bowl XXIII on Jan. 22, 1989 (yes, back when Super Bowls were played in January).
The Bengals eventually lost that game to the San Francisco 49ers, 20-16, for their second Super Bowl loss in franchise history. Their first loss also came at the hands of Joe Montana’s 49ers, seven years before in Super Bowl XVI.
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In the 33 years it has taken the Bengals to reach the NFL’s biggest stage again, the landscape of the league has changed quite a bit.
Here are a few events of note that have happened in the league since the end of the 1988-1989 season:
- The Los Angeles Rams moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis in 1995, only to move back to Los Angeles in 2016. Also, the Rams won a Super Bowl during their time in St. Louis. You might remember that, there is a movie about it now.
- The Los Angeles Raiders (who originally moved from Oakland to Los Angeles in 1982) moved back to Oakland in 1995. The team then relocated yet again, this time to Las Vegas in 2020.
- The San Diego Chargers moved to Los Angeles in 2019. (See a theme here?)
- The Buffalo Bills, who had never made a Super Bowl appearance prior to 1989, have lost four championships since then. They also remain the only franchise to lose four consecutive Super Bowls.
- The New England Patriots, who had only ever made one Super Bowl appearance as of 1989 (losing to Chicago in Super Bowl XX), have won six championships. Tom Brady, the winningest quarterback of all-time, was 11-years-old when the Bengals last played in the Super Bowl.
- The cities of Houston and Cleveland both lost historic franchises, with the Browns and Oilers respectively. The cities were awarded new teams by the league. Cleveland brought back the Browns name, and Houston went with the Texans.
- The Jacksonville Jaguars and the Carolina Panthers both entered the league in 1995.
- The Denver Broncos won 3 Super Bowls.
- Three franchises have won back-to-back Super Bowls since 1989: Dallas, Denver and New England.
- Every team in the NFL, except for Green Bay, Chicago, New Orleans, Miami, Kansas City and Buffalo, are playing in stadiums built after 1989.
- Tebowing was a thing.
Obviously, there are other changes in the league, such as rule changes and salary cap increases, but differences in the geographical and historical landscape of the league paint an interesting picture of just how long it has been for Cincinnati fans.
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