The Seattle Seahawks' win two years ago cut to 13 the number of NFL teams that have yet to win at least one league championship in the Super Bowl era.
Carolina could have cut it to 12 with a win over Denver on Sunday at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California in Super Bowl 50. The Panthers, a post-merger expansion team whose first season was 1995, are now 0-2 in the big game, also narrowly losing 32-29 to New England in Super Bowl XXXVIII. Denver has won three Super Bowls, and lost a record five.
The Bengals are one of five teams that have gone to the Super Bowl more than once and come away empty-handed, joining Buffalo and Minnesota, who have made four appearances each, and Philadelphia and Carolina, with two each.
The Bengals lost to the San Francisco 49ers, this year's hosts, in Super Bowls XVI (26-21) and XXIII (20-16) by a combined nine points. The Bengals scored a combined three first-half points in the two games against a team full of Pro Football Hall of Famers each time. The total count for the 49ers: Six (Fred Dean, Ronnie Lott, Joe Montana, Charles Haley, Jerry Rice, Steve Young). For the Bengals: One (Anthony Munoz).
In Super Bowl XVI, the Bengals' 356 yards total offense (San Francisco had 275) marked the first time in history that the team which was outgained in total yards won. The Bengals tellingly committed four turnovers (the 49ers had one). Three of Cincinnati's turnovers helped San Francisco build a Super Bowl record 20–0 halftime lead.
Both teams were making their first Super Bowl appearances for the first time since Super Bowl III. Bengals wide receiver Cris Collinsworth (107) and tight end Dan Ross (104) became the second pair of teammates to each have 100 yards receiving in a Super Bowl, but 49ers quarterback Joe Montana was named MVP. Ross is the only TE to have 100 yards receiving in a Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XXIII was Collinsworth's last game (he retired after the contest). He once again was the Bengals' top receiver, with three catches for 40 yards. Rice, the MVP with 11 catches for 215 yards, later admitted that he regularly and illegally using the "stickum" substance throughout his playing career, including Super Bowl XXIII. NFL.com ranked this game No. 1 on its list of the top 10 Super Bowls of all time.
It was a game of lasts. This was the final Super Bowl that Pete Rozelle presided over as NFL Commissioner. It was the final NFL contest coached by the 49ers' Bill Walsh (he retired after the game). The Bengals have just one postseason victory since Super Bowl XXIII, a Wild Card playoff win over the Houston Oilers on January 6, 1991. The Bengals hold the NFL's longest active drought between postseason victories.
It could be worse. On the other end, four teams have yet to play in the Super Bowl. They are Cleveland, Detroit, Houston and Jacksonville.
If Bengals fans think their postseason and Super Bowl plights are bad, they're right. But, they could be living in Houston and cheering for the Texans, who not only never have made it to the big game, they've yet to make it to the playoff's divisional round.
13 NFL Teams With No Super Bowl Wins:
Philadelphia 2... 0-2
San Diego 1...0-1
Cleveland 0...0-0 (0-3 in conference championship game)
Jacksonville 0...0-0 (0-2 in conference championship game)
Detroit 0...0-0 (0-1 in conference championship game)
Houston 0...0-0 (never made it to divisional round)