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The history of Detroit Lions vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Going back in time for this brief rivalry.

Detroit Lions Alex Karras... Set Number: X15247

0-5 has never been this sweet has it, Detroit Lions fans? Are we having a good or what? This Sunday the Lions will welcome the Cincinnati Bengals into to town to answer one question. Which Lions player will have a season-ending injury this week? Until we learn that, let’s learn some history. I called my friend H.G. Wells and he brought his time machine over. Let’s go back in time. Way back to September 27, 1970.

The first time

The Bengals were just two years old when they played Detroit for the very first time. The Lions proceeded to beat the hell out of the Bengals in a 38-3 win in Detroit. The picture we used for this article is from that game. That’s Hall of Famer Alex Karras going in for the kill against Bengals quarterback Sam Wyche. Some of the older Lions fans may remember Wyche from his one season with the Lions in 1974. Although his Lions career wasn’t exactly memorable with his one career pass for the team before he was drafted by the Florida Blazers in the 39th round of the World Football League draft. That one pass was picked off, by the way.

The Bengals would go on to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history after this loss. The Lions made it, too.

What the world was like

A lot was going on in September of 1970. Just one week before this game, the first ever Monday Night Football game went down. The Browns beat the Jets 31-21 in that game. Rapper Mystikal was born a few days earlier and his first words were “Danger!” The number one movie in America was “Tora! Tora! Tora!” a film about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Roger Ebert said it was “one of the deadest, dullest blockbusters ever made,” which proves it's impossible to make a good movie about Pearl Harbor.

Random stats

While the Lions won that first matchup, they would only go on to beat the Bengals two more times. The Lions are 3-9 against the Cincinnati and haven't beat them since November of 1992. The number one song in America the last time the Lions beat the Bengals was “Home Alone 2: Lost In New York” which starred a 12-year-old Macaulay Culkin. He’s now 41.

The Lions haven’t played the Bengals since 2017, and they haven’t played them at home since 2013. The Lions have only beat the Bengals once in Detroit. It was that first game in 1970. Macaulay Culkin wasn’t alive yet.

Worst memory

We’ll go super recent for that one. The Lions needed a win over the Bengals to have a chance to make the playoffs in 2017. On top of that, Jim Caldwell’s job was on the line. The Lions headed out to Cincinnati and proceeded to poop the bed an ugly 26-17 loss. Caldwell was fired a few weeks later and Matt Patricia was then hired. This game ultimately started the downfall of the entire organization from potential playoff team to the 0-5 team that stands before you today.

Best memory

Gee, that’s a hard one. Anyone here alive in 1970? What about 1974? I was alive in 1992, but I can’t remember this game. So I guess the best memory would have to come from a loss. How about the time Barry Sanders ran for 185 yards and three touchdowns in an overtime loss to the Bengals back in 1998? Here, check out this video.

Game dive

Let’s do something a little different. Let me dive into a game I wasn’t even alive for. The Lions 23-19 win over the Bengals in December of 1974. Before we dive into that, let’s talk a little about the 1974 Lions. This was the last season the Lions played in Tiger Stadium. They would move to the brand new Pontiac Silverdome the next season. The Lions went 7-7 that year and missed the playoffs.

In the game, Greg Landry threw for 115 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. The Bengals rolled with Ken Anderson. The 16-year Bengals quarterback threw for just 87 yards in this game before he suffered an injury. He was eventually replaced by Wayne Clark, who threw two interceptions on eight passes.

Charlie Sanders caught Landry’s sole touchdown in this game, but it came with 35 seconds left and gave the Lions the lead for the rest of the game. It was one of Sanders’ three touchdowns during the 1974 season.

Check out the highlights: