The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season, while the Raiders franchise now housed in Las Vegas last claimed a postseason victory during a 2002 season run to the Super Bowl.
A long drought will end for one of the franchises on Saturday when the fifth-seeded Raiders (10-7) battle the fourth-seeded Bengals (10-7) in an AFC wild-card contest in Cincinnati.
The Bengals have dropped eight consecutive playoff games, a skid that began with a 20-10 loss to the then-Los Angeles Raiders in the 1990-91 divisional round.
In recent years, Cincinnati locals have attributed the lack of postseason success to the “Curse of Bo Jackson.” In that game against the Raiders 31 years ago, linebacker Kevin Walker tackled Jackson after a 34-yard gain and Jackson injured his hip and never played another down of football.
The curse was news to third-year Bengals coach Zac Taylor when he was quizzed about it.
“We’re just way more focused on 2021, the present and going forward,” Taylor said. “So it’s OK to be aware of what’s gone on previously, but that’s not anything that takes up our time or our focus.”
The Raiders are in the postseason for just the second time since being clobbered 48-21 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII.
They reached the postseason as the Oakland Raiders during the 2016 season, but quarterback Derek Carr missed the 27-14 wild-card loss to the Houston Texans due to a broken right fibula.
Carr and running back Jalen Richard are the team’s only players left from the 2016 squad.
“I hurt for him back then in 2016 when he wasn’t able to finish the season the way he wanted to finish it because again he was having such a stellar season,” Richard told reporters. “But now he’s coming in and he’s glowing. … I can’t wait to see him out there.”
Carr passed for a franchise-record 4,804 yards this season to go with 23 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
He helped the Raiders win their last four games — each victory pivotal as Las Vegas didn’t clinch a berth until the final second of a 35-32 overtime win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. The Raiders went 4-0 in OT games.
An unpleasant memory for Carr was the home game against the Bengals on Nov. 21 when Cincinnati pulled away in the fourth quarter for a convincing 32-13 victory.
Carr passed for 215 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Bengals back Joe Mixon was the star with 123 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries.
“I felt that we didn’t put our best foot forward,” Carr said. “But at the same time, I don’t want to take anything away from them because they beat us and they did a good job of stopping us and getting the ball from us and all those things.
“It will be an exciting challenge for us.”
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow passed for a career-low 148 yards in the November contest. However, the second-year pro was hot down the stretch with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions over his final four appearances.
Burrow passed for 971 yards in his last two games — a career-high 525 against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 16 and 446 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs the following week.
Overall, Burrow set franchise records of 4,611 yards and 34 touchdowns while being intercepted 14 times.
However, the 25-year-old quarterback is more interested in snapping that long stretch of feebleness in the postseason.
“I grew up in Ohio,” Burrow said. “I knew exactly everything that everybody says about the Bengals. I had a bunch of friends that are Bengals fans growing up, and I knew they hadn’t won a playoff game in a long time.”
The Bengals likely will be without defensive tackle Josh Tupou (knee), while defensive back Ricardo Allen (concussion) and receiver Tee Higgins (foot) were among those limited in Wednesday’s practice.
The Raiders will be without defensive tackle Darius Philon, who sustained a season-ending knee injury against the Chargers. Defensive tackle Johnathan Haskins (back, knee) didn’t practice Tuesday nor Wednesday. Tight end Darren Waller (knee), running back Josh Jacobs (ribs) and cornerback Casey Hayward (ankle) were limited on Wednesday.
The Raiders are 2-0 in the postseason against Cincinnati, also prevailing 31-28 in the divisional round of the 1975 season playoffs.
–Field Level Media