As the Cincinnati Bengals prepare for Super Bowl 56, Joe Burrow is the talk of the NFL — and the entire state of Ohio. The second-year quarterback has taken the NFL by storm and is now just 60 minutes away from a Super Bowl victory.
The only thing that stands in the way is the Los Angeles Rams, who benefit from playing the game at SoFi Stadium. Nonetheless, the Bengals’ emergence has been a quick one, and just two years after drafting Burrow No. 1 overall, they are doing interviews for the Super Bowl.
However, the Bengals would be kind to send a very special thank you to the Miami Dolphins. After all, they played a crucial role in giving Cincinnati the top choice in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The ‘Tank Bowl’ helped give the Bengals the top choice in the draft
The date was December 22, 2019. The Dolphins and Bengals faced off in a meaningless game for most people. However, for the Bengals, this game wasn’t useless.
As the 2019 season approached an end, the 1-13 Bengals traveled to Miami to take on the 3-11 Dolphins. A game that looked like an afterthought on the schedule turned out to be an overtime thriller and, in a weird way, helped the Bengals secure the top seed in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Miami went up 35-12 to start the fourth quarter before Andy Dalton led a magnificent run with 23 unanswered points. But, the Dolphins ended up pulling out the victory with a Jason Sanders game-winning field goal in overtime.
The Bengals dropped to 1-14 while the Dolphins improved to 4-11. There was no tanking involved for Miami, despite Brian Flores’ recent reports of Stephen Ross offering him money to tank during that same 2019 season.
The Bengals finished that season with a 2-14 record and earned the No. 1 choice. Unfortunately, the Washington Commanders and Detroit Lions finished with three wins.
Things would have been different if the Dolphins ended up winning that game
Usually, meaningless games at the end of the year get swept under the rug. However, this Dolphins-Bengals 2019 Tank-a-Thon played a significant part in Cincinnati walking away with the top seed.
At the time, nobody cared about that game. But, two years later, this matchup paid enormous dividends for both teams, albeit for very different reasons.
Were the Bengals intentionally tanking? Not at all. After all, the Dalton-led Bengals scored 23 points in the fourth quarter to send it into overtime before having their hearts broken in the extra period.
Now, look at what happened: Cincinnati got Joe Burrow first overall, and the Dolphins walked away with Tua Tagovailoa at No. 5 overall.
After two seasons, the Dolphins just fired Flores and named Mike McDaniel as the hew coach. Miami also flirted with a Deshaun Watson deal and expressed concern with Tagovailoa’s performance.
The Bengals won the AFC North and three playoff games — including two on the road — to earn a Super Bowl berth. Burrow was phenomenal, magical, marvelous, and clutch as can be.
And how different things would have been if Sanders had missed that field goal back in December of 2019.
The Bengals can cap off this Cinderella run with a Super Bowl victory over the Rams
The Bengals defeated the Las Vegas Raiders, Tennessee Titans, and the Kansas City Chiefs to capture the AFC title. Next up is a matchup against the Rams in LA, and the Bengals are one victory away from capping off their impressive Cinderella run.
Burrow has been electric all season long, and it’s hard to believe that he tore his ACL in his rookie season and has come back at an incredible rate.
Can Burrow will the Bengals to one more victory and earn that cherished Lombardi Trophy?
Regardless, the Bengals’ franchise restoration is here, and Burrow is why things would have been much different if they had lost that 2019 game against the Dolphins.
The entire fan base in Cincinnati should be eternally grateful that the Dolphins won that game.
Stats Courtesy of Pro Football Reference
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