The 2015 season for the Cincinnati Bengals started with a considerable amount of hope from fans who had seen the franchise successfully reach the playoff for four consecutive years only to watch them fall in the first round. The franchises’ 48th season and thirteenth under Marvin Lewis offered considerable promise given the offensive and defensive talent on the team.
The Bengals picked up plenty of draft picks thanks to be awarded a second pick in the third round for losing Michael Johnson to free agency. The Bengals selected Cedric Ogbuehi, a tackle from Texas A & M to help shore up their offensive line.
In the preseason, the Bengals managed to go 3 – 1 and showcase the reasons why their fans were expecting plenty from the team as they smashed the New York Giants and Chicago Bears, but just squeaked out a victory against the Indianapolis Colts and losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It really seemed that the Bengals had a chip on their shoulder at least during the first part of the 2015 season. After rattling off a win against the Oakland Raiders, the Bengals beat their next five opponents in a row which included the San Diego Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks, and Buffalo Bills which had them 6 – 0 going into the bye week.
It seemed that nothing had changed for them after coming out of the bye week as they managed to beat two of their division rivals, the Pittsburg Steelers at Heinz Field and the Cleveland Browns to have the Bengals sitting at 8 – 0 with dreams of an undefeated season or at least home field advantage for the playoffs becoming closer to reality.
However, the following week the Bengals lost in curious fashion to the struggling Houston Texans at home and followed it up with a loss to the Arizona Cardinals at Phoenix. Still, the ship seemed to be righted when the Bengals managed to smash their next two opponents, the St. Louis Rams and their big division rivals, the Cleveland Browns to reach 10 – 2.
From there, the Bengals managed to split the final four games of the season, winning against the lowly San Francisco 49ers and finishing the season with a win against the Baltimore Ravens. However, it was the losses to Pittsburg at home and on the road in a crucial game against the Denver Broncos where the Bengals lost in overtime that prevented the team from getting home field advantage through the playoffs.
Despite the losses, the Bengals finished the regular season at a very remarkable 12 – 4, the most wins since 1988 when they made it to the Super Bowl.
The Bengals entered the playoff game against their arch rivals, the Pittsburg Steelers at home. However, despite holding a small lead late in the game, two crucial defensive penalties allowed the Steelers to close within field goal distance and win the game 18 – 16. This marked the fifth time in a row that the Bengals had lost a first round playoff game, an NFL record.