It’s a very small sample size, but it’s not pretty if you’re a Buffalo Bills fan. As the second-seeded Bills prep for Sunday’s postseason meeting with the No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals, they’re hoping to change the course of playoff history between the two franchises.
The teams have met just twice in the postseason, both times coming in the 1980s. The Bengals have ended Buffalo’s season on both occasions.
Things are a little different for the Buffalo Bills this time
The Bills and Bengals meet Sunday afternoon for the right to play in next weekend’s AFC Championship Game. The teams met in Week 17 of the regular season, but Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest during the first quarter, and CPR was administered on the field. Hamlin was transported to a local hospital in critical condition.
After a delay, the game was canceled, with the Bengals holding a 7-3 lead. Hamlin has since made a remarkable recovery and has been released from the hospital. He spent part of the week at the team facility.
This week, the teams meet with much higher stakes. It’s the third time the teams have squared off in the playoffs. The Bengals have won both previous meetings.
This year, however, is a bit different. The two prior meetings were both held at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. This one Buffalo is hosting. The Bills ended the season with a 13-3 record, while the Bengals were 12-4. Because of that canceled game, both teams played one less game than every other team. If they can reverse course in their playoff history with the Bengals, the Bills will reach the AFC title game for the first time since the 2020 season.
The Bengals have gone to the Super Bowl each time they beat the Bills in the playoffs
The Bengals certainly hope their postseason trend against the Bills continues. Not only have they beaten them twice, but they’ve gone on to play in the Super Bowl both times.
In 1982 (1981 season), the Bengals finished with the best record in the AFC. Led by their MVP quarterback Ken Anderson, the Bengals jumped out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter. Joe Cribbs then had a pair of rushing touchdowns to make it 14-14.
After Charles Alexander scored his second rushing touchdown of the game to put Cincinnati back on top, Bills quarterback Joe Ferguson hit Jerry Butler with a 21-yard pass in the fourth quarter to make it 21-21. Cris Collinsworth’s touchdown reception from Anderson sealed the deal for the Bengals in a 28-21 win. The Bengals then defeated the San Diego Chargers in the conference title game before falling to the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.
In 1989 (1988 season), Bills quarterback Jim Kelly threw three interceptions in a 21-10 loss to the Bengals. Rookie running back Ickey Woods scored two touchdowns and rushed for 102 yards as the Bengals advanced to the Super Bowl.
The ’88 season was eerily similar to the ’81 season for the Bengals. Cincinnati finished 12-4 both years, and its quarterback was named MVP, with Boomer Esiason winning in 1988. The Bengals also beat the Bills each time en route to a Super Bowl berth, where they lost to the 49ers both times.