The New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals have only met eight times, with the Bengals holding the upper hand, with five victories. While the Giants have been around since 1925, the Bengals were the last team to join the AFL, in 1968. After building the Cleveland Browns into a powerhouse, first in the All-America Football Conference and then in the NFL, Paul Brown (who the Browns were named after, though reluctantly by their coach) was fired by owner Art Modell in 1963.
Wanting to start a new team in Ohio, Brown ultimately chose Cincinnati, with the new Riverfront Stadium coming down the pipeline in 1970. Besides taking the Browns' color of orange (and briefly brown) for the Bengals' uniforms to spite Modell, Brown also owned Cleveland's equipment and took that with him as well when he left Cleveland. Brown couldn't steal their name, though, and the Bengals were named after a former Cincinnati football team from the 1930s. Brown only agreed to be a part of the AFL knowing that the merger would be occurring shortly, as he was not a fan of the younger league. The Bengals joined the NFL with the rest of the AFL in 1970, and became a part of the AFC. Brown coached the Bengals through the 1975 season, and his son, Mike, eventually followed him as the team's owner.
Here's a look at each of the eight times the Giants and Bengals have matched up:
Dec. 3, 1972, Bengals 13, Giants 10, at Riverfront Stadium: In 1970, Brown and assistant coach Bill Walsh essentially created the West Coast offense, which covered up quarterback Virgil Carter's lack of arm strength but utilized his penchant for completing short, accurate passes. By '72, the Bengals had the great Ken Anderson to continue running that style of offense. On this day, Anderson went 17-for-34, and threw for 217 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Two Giants quarterbacks played that afternoon -- Norm Snead and backup Randy Johnson. Johnson threw a touchdown pass to Don Herrmann (a Giant from '69 to '74, with 165 receptions and 15 touchdowns), while Anderson connected with tight end and future Bengals and New York Jets head coach Bruce Coslet. The difference in the game was two field goals by Bengal Horst Muhlman to one for Giant Pete Gogolak. The offensive star for New York was Ron Johnson, who ran for 119 yards. He made his second Pro Bowl that season, gaining 1,182 yards. Two years earlier, he also made the Pro Bowl while being the first Giant to ever run for 1,000 yards (1,027 to be exact). Both teams finished with 8-6 records in '72, but neither qualified for the playoffs.
Nov. 27, 1977, Bengals 30, Giants 13, at Riverfront Stadium: The Giants were deep into their playoffless black hole of the late-'60s/1970s, and they played like it on this day against the Bengals. Cincinnati jumped out to a 27-0 lead, so the Giants' two touchdowns (a Jim Robinson from Joe Pisarcik five-yard reception and a Pisarcik one-yard run) were just window dressing. Ken Anderson tossed three touchdown passes for the Bengals (with Billy Brooks catching two of them) and the ingeniously nicknamed Boobie Clark ran for a touchdown. Cincinnati totaled 176 rushing yards (Archie Griffin had 83) to the Giants' 70 (Bobby Hammond led the team with 27, while Doug Kotar had 20 and Larry Csonka six). The best player for New York was their excellent punter, Dave Jennings, who made four Pro Bowls and was a two-time First-Team All-Pro in his career. He punted nine times that day, for 374 yards. The Giants finished with a 5-9 record that season, while the Bengals were 8-6, though they failed to make the playoffs.
Oct. 13, 1985, Bengals 35, Giants 30, at Riverfront Stadium: This is the most memorable game the two teams have played against each other, as Phil Simms threw for a franchise record 513 yards. The Giants fell behind 21-0 so Simms didn't have a choice but to throw, throw and throw some more. He ended up going 40-for-62, with one touchdown and two interceptions, while being sacked seven times. He completed passes to nine different receivers. Mark Bavaro was his main target, catching 12 passes for 176 yards, while Lionel Manuel hauled in eight passes for 111 yards. New York did cut the lead down to one, 21-20, but they could never catch up. Joe Morris and George Adams scored touchdowns, while Jess Atkinson kicked three field goals and also ran for a touchdown. Rob Carpenter led the Giants with 16 rushing yards. Boomer Esiason, who had taken over the starting role from Ken Anderson earlier that season, was the opposing quarterback, and he threw for 193 yards and tossed three touchdown passes without a pick. The Bengals were filled with future sports broadcasters, as Chris Collinsworth caught one of the touchdown passes. Eleven years later, Esiason would throw for 522 yards while playing for the Arizona Cardinals. The Giants went 10-6 that year, and lost to the Bears in the Division round of the playoffs, while the Bengals finished 7-9.
Dec. 1, 1991, Bengals 27, Giants 21, at Riverfront Stadium: Another road game in Cincinnati for the Giants and another loss. It was Simms (26-for-44, 296 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions) vs. Esiason (17-for-30, 204 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions) once again. The Giants ran out in front, 17-7, on a pair of Simms to Stephen Baker touchdown throws and a Matt Bahr field goal, but the Bengals scored the next 20 points, making the Simms to Mark Ingram touchdown strike too little, too late. The Giants went 8-8 that year, while the Bengals were a woeful 3-13.
Dec. 11, 1994, Giants 27, Bengals 20, at Giants Stadium: The Giants finally got a home game vs. the Bengals and they finally won. The glory days of Simms and Esiason were now over, with the not-so-glorious matchup of Dave Brown vs. Jeff Blake replacing them. Rodney Hampton, in the midst of his fourth of five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, opened and closed the scoring with short touchdown runs, and in between Brad Daluiso booted a field goal, Carl Pickens caught a touchdown pass from Blake, Brown hit Howard Cross with an eight-yard touchdown pass to give the Giants a 17-7 halftime lead, the two teams traded field goals in the third quarter, Blake hit Pickens again in the fourth and Doug Pelfrey tied it for the Bengals with a field goal before Hampton crossed the goal line with the winning points. The Giants went a respectful 9-7 that season, while the Bengals again went 3-13.
Oct. 26, 1997, Giants 29, Bengals 27, at Giants Stadium: It was now Danny Kanell's turn to take on Blake, and like Brown, he came out victorious, with the Giants' fifth win in a row, which came right before their bye week. Down 21-10 at halftime, the Giants stormed back to win, thanks to a Charles Way touchdown (he also had one in the first half, and rushed for 75 yards) and two Tyrone Wheatley touchdowns. Blake scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but the two-point conversion failed and the Giants held on to win. Kanell was not sacked in the game, but Michael Strahan got to Blake once and Chad Bratzke and Keith Hamilton had half a sack each. The Giants went 10-5-1 in Jim Fassel's first season as head coach but blew a huge lead and lost to the Minnesota Vikings in the playoffs. The loss to the Giants put Cincinnati's record at 1-7, but they then went 6-2 the rest of the way to finish at 7-9.
Dec. 26, 2004, Bengals 23, Giants 22, at Paul Brown Stadium: Another new set of quarterbacks took the field this time around, with rookie Eli Manning squaring off against Jon Kitna. The Bengals' 7-0 lead was the biggest margin of the day. The only touchdown for the Giants was scored by Tiki Barber (109 rushing yards), while Steve Christie foreshadowed Lawrence Tynes' 2012 season by kicking five field goals. The Giants held a slim 22-17 lead in the fourth quarter, but Chad "Soon-to-be-and-then-not-again-Ochocinco" Johnson caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Kitna for the winning points. The Giants did have one more chance after that, but with thirty-six seconds left and the ball on Cincinnati's 47-yard line, Manning threw a pick to Carl Powell, Kitna took a knee and the game was over. Manning had a typical rookie-season game, going 19-for-37, throwing for 201 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. The Giants finished 6-10 that year, while the Bengals went 8-8.
Sept. 21, 2008, Giants 26, Bengals 23, at Giants Stadium: This was the last time the two teams met, with the Giants fresh of a Super Bowl victory. Manning faced Carson Palmer, and the two quarterbacks had eerily similar days: Manning threw for 289 yards, with one touchdown and no picks, while going 26-for-43, while Palmer threw for 286 yards, also with one touchdown and no interceptions, and completed 27 of 39 passes. Manning wasn't sacked once, though, while the Giants D got to Palmer six times. The game was close all afternoon, with tie scores in the second, third and fourth quarters. Brandon Jacobs rushed for a touchdown and Kevin Boss caught a Manning pass for a score, while John Carney booted three regulation-time field goals. The Bengals countered with two touchdowns of their own (Chris Perry and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who caught 12 passes on the day, for 146 yards) along with three field goals by their kicker, Shayne Graham, the last one with time expiring in the fourth quarter. The difference? After a Giants punt and a three-and-out by the Bengals in overtime, John Carney kicked one through the uprights for his fourth field goal of the day, with the two key plays of the winning drive being a 28-yard reception by Plaxico Burress and a 31-yard catch by Amani Toomer. Burress would sabotage the Giants' 12-4 season, though, by shooting himself in the leg. The Bengals went 4-11-1, after starting out the season with eight straight losses. And they've had their fair share of troublemakers and lawbreakers along the way to rival Burress' boneheadedness.