Top 10 Bengals players to ever play in the Super Bowl

    The Bengals' Super Bowl history isn't exactly filled with highlights, but who are their top players to take the field when it mattered most?

    Before we start, let’s set the rules for the selection process. To be eligible for the list, each player has to have represented the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl. However, the quality of the player and their career, including their time away from the Bengals franchise, if any, will be considered.

    Top 10 Cincinnati Bengals players to play in a Super Bowl: Super Bowl XVI vs. 49ers

    The Bengals faced the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XVI on January 24, 1982. The game was played in the Pontiac Silverdome near Detroit, MI. The 49ers won 26-21 thanks to quarterback Joe Montana, but the Bengals’ offense definitely put up a fight.

    Ken Anderson | QB

    Ken Anderson was drafted by the Bengals in the third round of the 1971 NFL Draft. He played his entire 16-year NFL career in Cincinnati, leading them to the Super Bowl following the 1981 season. Anderson led the Bengals to a 12-4 record that year, and he won both the Offensive Player of the Year and the MVP that season.

    Anderson faced off against Montana in Super Bowl XVI. He completed 25 of 34 passes for 300 yards, with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in the game. He also rushed 4 times for 15 yards and a score on the ground.

    Even though the team came up short in Super Bowl XVI, Anderson is one of the best quarterbacks the Bengals have ever had. He’s the Bengals all-time passing leader with 32,838 yards and is easily worthy of a spot among the top Bengals players to ever play in a Super Bowl.

    Cris Collinsworth | WR

    One of the best receivers in Bengals history also played in SB XVI against the 49ers: Cris Collinsworth. Ironically, he’ll be in the booth calling Super Bowl LVI this weekend when the Bengals play the Rams, 40 years after his first Super Bowl appearance.

    Collinsworth was a rookie in 1981 and helped the team to their 12-4 record on the back of his 1,009 yards receiving on 67 catches. Much like Anderson, Collinsworth was a Bengal for his entire eight-year career, including Cincinnati’s second Super Bowl appearance in 1989. He is currently fifth all-time on the Bengals’ receiving list with 6,698 yards.

    Anthony Munoz | LT

    Anthony Munoz is easily the best lineman the team has ever had. He was drafted in 1980, and like Collinsworth, he played in both Super Bowls that the Bengals went to in the decade.

    At left tackle, Munoz protected Anderson in Super Bowl XVI and Boomer Esiason later on in Super Bowl XXII. He was named an All-Pro nine times and selected to a whopping 11 Pro Bowls in his 13-year career, playing every season for the Bengals. Munoz was eventually inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998 and is well-deserving of a list like this.

    Ken Riley | CB

    Ken Riley is the lone defensive player on this list, largely because of his longevity with the team. He didn’t do much in the Super Bowl game itself, but in his 15-year career (all with the Bengals), he played in an astounding 207 contests. Riley also collected an awe-inspiring 65 interceptions, fourth-most when he retired in 1983. However, he was never voted into the Pro Bowl, nor was he inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, which is a contentious point among Bengals fans.

    Isaac Curtis | WR

    Across from Collinsworth in Super Bowl XVI was WR Isaac Curtis. He also didn’t do much in the game, only catching 3 passes for 42 yards. But like several of his teammates, Curtis played his entire career as a Bengal. He was a first-round pick in 1973 and played for 12 seasons. During his career, Curtis played in 167 games for the Bengals, fourth-most all-time, and amassed 7,101 receiving yards. That’s definitely a solid career.

    Dan Ross | TE

    Last but not least is tight end Dan Ross. Ross wasn’t exactly a big name outside of Cincinnati, but his 104 yards and 2 fourth-quarter receiving touchdowns in Super Bowl XVI helped keep the Bengals in the game down the stretch. He was selected to his only Pro Bowl the following season. Ross is currently 14th in Bengals history in terms of receiving yards with 3,204. Not too bad for a tight end no one’s heard of if you ask me.

    Super Bowl XXIII | Bengals vs. 49ers

    Super Bowl XXIII was held at Joe Robbie Stadium near Miami, FL, on January 22, 1989, and was a rematch between Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco. The 10-6 49ers defeated the 12-4 Bengals 20-16 on a fourth-quarter TD pass from Montana to WR John Taylor with 34 seconds remaining. It was a brutal loss for the Bengals and the third Super Bowl win for the 49ers franchise.

    Boomer Esiason | QB

    The Bengals drafted Norman Julius Esiason, aka “Boomer,” in Round 2 of the 1984 NFL Draft. He sat behind Anderson his rookie year but took over the starting job in 1985. In 1988, Esiason passed for 3,572 yards on 388 attempts and won the MVP award, much like Anderson did the year he took the team to the title game.

    The game itself was largely a battle of field goals, but Esiason was the lone bright spot on offense. That’s not saying much, unfortunately. Esiason only completed 11 passes on 25 attempts for a meager 144 yards. And when the team needed him most at the end of the game, he couldn’t quite get it done. The Bengals went to 0-2 in title game appearances.

    That said, Esiason is still a legend in Cincinnati. He played for the team until the 1993 season. After leaving, he played for the Jets and Cardinals before returning to finish his career in Cincinnati in 1997. Esiason finished his Bengals career third all-time in passing with 27,149 yards. That alone makes him deserving of a spot on this list, even though the team didn’t win in his only Super Bowl appearance.

    Ickey Woods | RB

    I won’t lie, Ickey Woods makes this list largely because of his famous end-zone dance, the Ickey Shuffle. Everyone was talking about it leading up to the game, but Woods didn’t get to showcase his skills under the bright lights in Miami.

    He carried the ball 20 times for a respectable 79 yards but just couldn’t find the end zone. Either way, almost every football fan from the late 80s remembers his name as well as his signature dance. Bengals fans definitely do.

    Stanford Jennings | KR

    It’s not every day that a special-teams player makes a list like this, but I think Stanford Jennings deserves it. In the Super Bowl, the score was tied at 3 at the half, with neither team really doing much on offense. However, late in the third quarter, that changed when Jennings returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown.

    This was the first touchdown of the game and the only one the Bengals scored all day. He might not be widely known, but he returned a total of 136 kickoffs for the Bengals in his seven seasons with the team, third-most in franchise history.

    Super Bowl LVI | Bengals vs. Rams

    The two Bengals teams that made it to the Super Bowl in the 1980s are very different from the team that will play in the game this year, but there are some similarities as well.

    Joe Burrow | QB

    Joe Burrow is from Ohio and was the team’s first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. He had a rough rookie year due to a knee injury that ended his season early. But he’s come back strong and ready to play this year. In my mind, he’s already on the list of best Bengals players to ever play in a Super Bowl, and he hasn’t even taken the field in the Super Bowl yet.

    Ja’Marr Chase | WR

    Alongside Burrow is his college teammate Ja’Marr Chase. Again, while Chase hasn’t played in a Super Bowl just yet, he’s already proven himself worthy. He’s a stellar receiver with some amazing skills. Chase won Offensive Rookie of the Year and broke the rookie receiving record on the way to this year’s title game. He’s another easy addition to this list regardless of what he does on Sunday night.

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