Bengals not letting past playoff failures cloud hopes

Fri Jan 3, 2014 1:33pm EST
 
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(Reuters) - It has been 24 years since the Cincinnati Bengals won an NFL playoff game and skeptical fans appear unconvinced the drought will end on Sunday when the AFC North champions host the San Diego Chargers in a wild-card clash.

With the Bengals (11-5) a perfect 8-0 at Paul Brown Stadium this season fans would seem to have little reason to doubt their team yet thousands of tickets were still available on Friday for Cincinnati's first home playoff date since 2009.

While Cincinnati's regular season results are nothing to grumble about, for a generation of Bengals supporters the post-season has brought only disappointment.

Under head coach Marvin Lewis the Bengals have had two losing seasons in 11 years.

But three times in the last four years Cincinnati has appeared in a wild card contest and fallen flat, losing twice to the Houston Texans (2012, 2011) and New York Jets (2009).

The Bengals postseason history may not inspire confidence but with five wins in their final six regular season games, including clutch victories over the rival Pittsburgh Steelers and defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati will carry considerable momentum into Sunday's showdown.

"We're playing with a lot of confidence right now," said Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. "For us to have a home playoff game, it'll be a great environment.

"We're ready for the playoffs to start."

But so are the battle-tested Chargers (9-7) who are riding a four-game winning streak, including an overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs that secured the AFC's final playoff berth on the last day of the regular season.   Continued...

 
Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (27) celebrates with teammates after intercepting a pass and running for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports