Winning a Lombardi Trophy the year after losing the Super Bowl is a rare feat. What can the Cincinnati Bengals still do in free agency to help their cause?
It has only happened three times previously. A club loses on Super Sunday and then rebounds by walking away with a Lombardi Trophy one year later. It first occurred back in the early 1970s and in back-to-back seasons.
The Dallas Cowboys dropped Super Bowl V and then defeated the Dolphins in Super Bowl VI. Miami learned their lesson and one year later, capped off a perfect season with a victory in Super Bowl VII.
As for the third time, it was very recent. The New England Patriots bounced back from a 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII and would stifle the Los Angeles Rams, 13-3, in Super Bowl LIII.
Speaking of Sean McVay’s squad, that is the team that rallied to win Super Bowl LVI, 23-20, at the expense of the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20. Zac Taylor’s club was basically shut down in the second half thanks to the combination of Aaron Donald and Von Miller, who exploited Cincinnati’s shaky offensive front.
But 2021 was still a season of many positives for the team from the Queen City. The club won its first AFC North title since 2015. More significantly, the franchise snapped a long playoff drought.
The Bengals defeated the visiting Raiders in the wild card round, the club’s first postseason win since 1990.
Taylor’s team then upset the top-seeded Tennessee Titans in Nashville (the team’s first-ever road playoff victory. And then Joe Burrow and company rallied from an 18-point deficit at Arrowhead Stadium to upend the Chiefs in overtime.
So what will the Bengals do for a follow-up? Could they dot the I’s and cross the T’s with a few more veteran additions?
Potential Cincinnati Bengals FA no. 3: CB Joe Haden (Pittsburgh Steelers)
In April’s draft, the organization chose six players – five of which were on defense. The other player was North Dakota State guard Cordell Volsen, a fourth-round selection. Three of the five defenders are defensive backs in safeties Daxton Hill (1-Michigan) and Tycen Anderson (5-Toledo) and cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt (2-Nebraska).
Despite an improved pass rush this past season, the Bengals ranked 26th in the NFL in pass defense and ironically, gave up 26 TD passes in 17 regular-season contests.
Three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden has spent his entire 12-year career in the AFC North with the Browns (7) and Steelers (5). Could he provide leadership for a still-young Cincinnati Bengals secondary?