Cincinnati — The last time the Cincinnati Bengals won a playoff game, it was in another century in a stadium that has since been torn down against a team that no longer exists.
The latest letdown came Sunday when the Bengals turned the ball over four times and lost a halftime lead to fall to the San Diego Chargers 27-10 in a rainy AFC wild-card playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium.
This was supposed to be the franchise's year to finally end its lengthy postseason drought.
Favored to win after reeling off victories in five of their past six games and playing on their home field where they were unbeaten this season, many expected the Bengals to finally put an end to a 23-year wait since the franchise's most recent postseason victory.
"We felt like this was the year — and now next year's going to be the year," said wide receiver Marvin Jones, who had 12 catches for 130 yards. "We'll hear it for another year. And deservedly so."
The Chargers blitzed the Bengals 20-0 in the second half, discouraging a sodden crowd of 62,277 that had flooded the surrounding parking lots and businesses before the game, confident that they would see some history.
In a way, they did.
It marked the third year in a row that the Bengals had been knocked out in their first game, tying an NFL mark for futility according to STATS, LLC.
Their last playoff win was a 41-14 victory over the Houston Oilers in Riverfront Stadium on Jan. 6, 1991. The 23-year wait is tied for the sixth-longest drought in NFL history.
The Bengals have had 15 starting quarterbacks since that last postseason win. The latest defeat calls into question the current starter at that position.
"Obviously, quarterbacks are going to be judged on how they play in big games. Unfortunately, the last three years we haven't been able to win one of these playoff games, so there's going to be a lot of criticism and talk," quarterback Andy Dalton said.