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How many times have Cincinnati Bengals reached AFC Championship Game?

The Cincinnati Bengals, who face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, are returning to the AFC Conference Championship for the first time since the 1980s.

Jan 22, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Cincinnati Bengals kicker Evan McPherson (2) celebrates after kicking the game-winning 52-yard field goal to defeat the Tennessee Titans 19-16 during the AFC Divisional playoff football game at Nissan Stadium. Mand
Kirby LeeUSA TODAY Sports

After beating the Tennessee Titans in the Divisional Round of the 2021/22 NFL Playoffs, the Cincinnati Bengals are preparing for only the third AFC Championship Game in their history.

The Bengals were underdogs going into Saturday’s game against the Titans, who were the number-one seeds in the AFC Playoffs, but Evan McPherson’s late 52-yard field goal gave Zac Taylor’s men a dramatic 19-16 victory at Nissan Stadium - and ended Cincinnati’s long wait for a return to the Conference Championship Game.

Bengals back in Conference Championship Game after over 30 years

The Bengals last battled it out for the AFC Championship back in the 1988 season - a 33-year drought that was the NFL’s longest active run without an appearance in a conference title decider.

That unwanted record has now been passed on to the Washington Football Team and the Detroit Lions, who both last appeared in a Conference Championship Game in the 1991 campaign.

Evan McPherson (2) kicks the Cincinnati Bengals' game-winning field goal against the Tennessee Titans.
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Evan McPherson (2) kicks the Cincinnati Bengals' game-winning field goal against the Tennessee Titans.Christopher HanewinckelUSA TODAY Sports

Bengals' appearances in Conference Championship Game

The Bengals’ two previous appearances in the AFC Conference Championship Game both came in the 1980s, and both saw Cincinnati book their ticket to the Super Bowl.

However, the Bengals are yet to get their hands on the Vince Lombardi Trophy: their 100% success rate in the Conference Championship round contrasts with a record of two defeats in two Super Bowls, both to the San Francisco 49ers.

1981: Cincinnati see off San Diego to win AFC title

In the 1981 season, the Bengals saw off the Buffalo Bills 28-21 in the Divisional Round before winning their maiden AFC Conference Championship with a 27-7 victory over the San Diego Chargers at Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati’s former home.

At Super Bowl XVI, held at the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan, the Bengals rallied from a 20-0 half-time deficit to the 49ers - at the time, this was a Super Bowl record - but lost out 26-21.

1988: Bills beaten in AFC Championship Game

In 1988, the Bengals booked their berth in the Conference Championship Game with a 23-13 triumph over the Seattle Seahawks, before beating the Bills 21-10, again at their home stadium, to clinch their second AFC title.

At Super Bowl XXIII, Cincinnati led 13-6 heading into the fourth quarter, but were once more denied by a 49ers team on a run of four NFL titles in nine seasons.

See also:

Legendary San Francisco quarterback Joe Montana delivered fourth-quarter touchdown passes for Jerry Rice and John Taylor, either side of a 40-yard field goal by Jim Breech, as the 49ers won 20-16.

Bengals face Chiefs clash in AFC Championship Game

In what will be the teams’ first ever meeting in the NFL Playoffs, the Bengals visit the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in the 2021/22 AFC Championship Game on Sunday (3:05pm ET).

While the Bengals are returning to the Conference Championship for the first time in over three decades, the Chiefs have been regulars in the fixture in recent years. Kansas City have appeared in the past three AFC Championship Games, winning the last two, and will be the first ever NFL team to host the clash in four consecutive seasons.

Television viewers in the US will be able to watch the Bengals vs the Chiefs on CBS. You’ll also be able to follow the action in Missouri with AS USA’s live-text coverage.


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