Cincinnati Bengals: Sam Wyche

John TaylorUSA TODAY Sports
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This is one of three finalists for the most memorable plays in Cincinnati Bengals history. The others are Corey Dillon's 41-yard touchdown run that broke the single-game rushing record and the San Francisco 49ers John Taylor's game-winning touchdown catch to beat the Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII. This entry is a play from the same game; vote below for your favorite.

Score: 49ers 20, Bengals 16
Date: Jan. 22, 1989. Site: Joe Robbie Stadium

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Description: In order to be eligible for consideration on the Bengals' top plays list, a play did not have to be one that caused Who Dey Nation to erupt in raucous cheer. It could have been the direct source of heartache, too.

Exactly 15 minutes, 16 seconds after Stanford Jennings pushed the Bengals out front by seven in Super Bowl XXIII with a kick return touchdown, 49ers quarterback Joe Montana punctuated a fourth-quarter comeback drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to John Taylor. It was a catch that effectively ended the game and gave the 49ers their third Lombardi Trophy under former Bengals assistant, coach Bill Walsh.

Taylor's catch off a slant into the end zone also ended an 11-play drive that saw Montana complete eight of the nine passes he attempted. Aside from Taylor's game-winning grab, Hall of Famer Jerry Rice had three key receptions on the drive, including a 27-yard haul that put the 49ers in the red zone two plays ahead of Taylor's catch. The drive covered 92 yards and lasted barely two minutes.

Had Cincinnati's defense been able to stand as tall on that drive as it had earlier in the game, the Bengals likely would have kept the 49ers out of the end zone and held on just enough to win. Before that series, the Bengals had allowed 358 yards and just one touchdown. They also had allowed the 49ers to convert only two third downs on 10 tries. During the drive, San Francisco saw only one third down. It converted when Roger Craig plowed ahead for a 4-yard run after needing only 2 yards.

As much as Taylor's catch will forever be remembered as the iconic play that sealed the 49ers victory, it's important to note that the 10 plays before helped set it up.

Stanford JenningsGin Ellis/Getty Images
» VOTE HERE » NFC Plays: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

This is one of three finalists for the most memorable plays in Bengals history. The others are Corey Dillon's 41-yard touchdown run that broke the single-game rushing record and John Taylor's game-winning touchdown catch that allowed the San Francisco 49ers to beat the Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII. This entry is a play from the same game; vote below for your favorite.

Score: 49ers 20, Bengals 16
Date: Jan. 22, 1989 Site: Joe Robbie Stadium

Description: For 43 minutes, place kicking dominated Super Bowl XXIII. In the 44th minute, a kickoff return changed all that, giving the game an electrifying touchdown that put the Bengals in the lead with a quarter left in the defensive slugfest.

SportsNation

Which is the most memorable play in Bengals' history?

  •  
    20%
  •  
    46%
  •  
    34%

Discuss (Total votes: 30,879)

Stanford Jennings, a 26-year-old returner/running back at the apex of his NFL career, scored the first touchdown with 50 seconds left in the third quarter when he sprinted 93 yards on a kickoff return that pushed the Bengals to a 13-6 lead. Finally, after trading field goals with the 49ers, the Bengals had the game's momentum. As the Bengals prepared for the final quarter, the odds of them winning the franchise's first Super Bowl started looking quite favorable.

As we whittled down -- with your help -- the many plays that have taken place in Bengals history, it seemed clear that at least one play from one of Cincinnati's two Super Bowl appearances needed to make the list. Unfortunately for the Bengals, compared to other older and more successful teams, their 46-year history has a somewhat limited pool of cheer-worthy moments if we're discussing plays that could compete with the NFL's all-time best. Let's make it clear, though: That doesn't mean the team hasn't had any. From the "Freezer Bowl" to the franchise's founding to Chad Ochocinco's "Riverdance" to Jerome Simpson's flip and Giovani Bernard's zig-zag run at Miami last season, there have been some awe-inspiring moments.

None of those, however, made it in our top three.

Jennings' play deserves consideration as the most memorable play in Bengals history because, at the time, it was a pivotal play in one of the two biggest games the team has ever played. When Jennings was tripped up as he crossed the goal line, the Bengals sideline erupted. The entire group knew the Bengals were now in control of the game and stood a good chance to emerge from South Florida having denied one of its former sons his third Lombardi Trophy. 49ers coach Bill Walsh served as an assistant in Cincinnati under the late Paul Brown during the franchise's early years.

While then-Bengals coach Sam Wyche tried to keep his sideline calm, it was noted during the game's broadcast that he and Jennings were graduates of the same small South Carolina college, Furman. The two Paladins seemed poised to share a post-graduate honor so few who've played and coached in the NFL ever get to realize.

But two Joe Montana touchdown passes later, the Bengals lost the lead and, eventually, the game. They haven't returned to the Super Bowl since.
It was inside Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty's Monday column that a somewhat interesting possible Cincinnati Bengals practice revelation was unveiled.

The overall column was part retrospective, taking a look back at the innovator of the no-huddle offense and sharing his thoughts on the modern-day league and the modern-day team in stripes that still hasn't won a playoff game since he was in his late 40s.

That man was Sam Wyche, the former Bengals coach who helped set an offensive pace that is replicated across the NFL to this day. Although he hasn't coached since 2005, Wyche, 69, apparently believes he still can. His age and health might be an issue for some, but it seems he wishes that wasn't the case.

Deep in the column, while Daugherty shared Wyche's thoughts on the both good and not-so-good versions of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, the former coach discussed what he felt was a problem around the league with respect to practice philosophies. He didn't believe enough coaches these days were practicing pressure situations with their quarterbacks often enough. He felt too few were taking their signal-callers through two-minute drills every day. Not enough were forcing their offense to drive 90 yards or more to score until too late in the week. Not enough were forcing their playmakers to convert on third-and-longs each day between Wednesday and Friday.

He could be right. With practices closed, though, only the Bengals know what really goes on inside their tree-lined, three-field practice cocoon.

Upon first reading them, Wyche's comments took me back to phrases I used to always hear Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher utter when I covered that team. In practice, he'd say, "We like to put our team in positions of failure." What he meant was, he wanted his quarterback to convert that third-and-13. He wanted to see if his receivers could break at the right spot on fourth-and-5. He wanted to see if his offense could go 85 yards and score in fewer than two minutes.

Fisher said it a lot last season and the season before. I'm sure he said it often this past, national championship season, too.

Maybe Wyche is on to something. Or maybe, with respect to the Bengals, he doesn't fully know what he's talking about. Either way, it all sounds like a novel concept. While practice can be a great time to work on fundamentals, and timing with receivers and running backs, and installing game plans, it also ought to be a time when your quarterback and key players are put under extreme amounts of pressure, so they don't feel it on Sundays.

Because if the last three playoff trips are any indication, the Bengals, particularly on offense, just weren't very well prepared when the bright lights came on and the real pressure came.

Here's Tuesday's brief Morning Stripes:
  • First, the link from the Enquirer to Daugherty's piece with Wyche.
  • Next, a quick blog post from the Enquirer's Joe Reedy on the awards that Bengals players received Monday. Defensive end Robert Geathers, who tore his triceps in the second game of the season, was named the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner. Each team selects a winner for that award. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict also was named to the Pro Football Writers of America's All-AFC team.
  • Speaking of Geathers, Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson has this item on the award winner. With a healthy Geathers, the Bengals' defensive line next season could pick up right where it left off this season. Michael Johnson figures to be gone when free agency starts, but Geathers will return to an end rotation that will feature Carlos Dunlap, Wallace Gilberry and Margus Hunt.
  • One more list of awards and an end-of-year wrap can be found in this item from Bengals.com. Hobson looks back at the season and provides his highlights and low lights.

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