2006 Cincinnati Bengals season
|2006 Cincinnati Bengals season|
|Head coach||Marvin Lewis|
|Home field||Paul Brown Stadium|
|Division place||2nd AFC North|
|Playoff finish||did not qualify|
The 2006 Cincinnati Bengals season began with the team trying to improve on their 11–5 record in 2005, defending their AFC North Division Championship title, and progress further through the playoffs than they made in the 2005 season having lost to Pittsburgh in the 1st round after losing star quarterback Carson Palmer to injury on the second play of the game.
|This section requires expansion. (June 2008)|
Each year ps a theme to focus the players and coaches attention on certain mental and discipline aspects of the game and team. The 2006–07 season used The Pyramid developed by successful former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. Some of the characteristics it highlights are:
- Team Spirit
- Competitive Greatness
Personnel moves 
Jan 10 Signed S Tony Bua from the practice squad.
Feb 1 Signed WR P.K. Sam (Free Agent from New England Patriots).
Feb 7 Signed QB Doug Johnson (Free Agent from Tennessee Titans).
Feb 13 Signed LB Rashad Jeanty (Free Agent from CFL team Edmonton Eskimos).
Mar 10 Terminated contract of DE Duane Clemons.
Mar 13 Signed S Dexter Jackson (Unrestricted Free Agent from Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
Mar 21 Signed WR Antonio Chatman (Unrestricted Free Agent from Green Bay Packers).
Mar 31 Terminated the contract of S Kim Herring.
Apr 3 Signed DT Sam Adams (Unrestricted Free Agent from Buffalo Bills).
Apr 21 Signed QB Anthony Wright (Unrestricted Free Agent from Baltimore Ravens).
Draft picks 
|1||24(24)||Johnathan Joseph||CB||University of South Carolina|
|3||27(91)||Frostee Rucker||DE||Southern California|
|4||26(123)||Domata Peko||DT||Michigan State|
|5||24(157)||A.J. Nicholson||OLB||Florida State|
|6||24(193)||Reggie McNeal||QB/WR||Texas A&M|
|7||1(209)||Ethan Kilmer||WR/DB||Penn State|
Carson Palmer's rehab 
Exceeding expectations Carson Palmer was able to play on his reconstructed ligaments in only 8 months.
SI interview 
Carson's fame was boosted by a favorable interview with Sports Illustrated documenting his recovery progress.
Lewis/Carson conflict on perceived recovery time 
There was a minor controversy when it appeared that Marvin Lewis wanted Carson to play in the preseason earlier than Carson said. The controversy was dismissed by Lewis as miscommunication and sensationalism by the media.
Legal troubles 
During the 2006 offseason and season, nine different Bengals players were either arrested or suspended for their actions off the playing field. The sports media wrote extensively on the legal woes and character questions of some of the Bengals players. The media also commonly noted that the 2006 Bengals had more arrests than wins. The following is a list: 
- Chris Henry: marijuana charges, charged with pulling a gun on a group in Orlando, speeding and drunken driving, charged with providing alcohol to minors, over the course of several months in 4 different incidents over that time.
- Odell Thurman: suspended for the first four games of the 2006–2007 regular season due to a drug-test related suspension which Odell stated was due to him skipping a test, not failing one. He chalked it up to being immature. In addition to Thurmans's drug-related suspension, he was also arrested for drunk driving early Monday morning after the Bengal's victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Thurman is scheduled to be in court on Oct. 2, 2006.
- Frostee Rucker: charged with two counts of spousal abuse and vandalism (the alleged incident occurred prior to Cincinnati drafting him)
- A.J. Nicholson: charged with burglary; previously arrested twice on suspicion of alcohol-related offenses (the alleged incident occurred prior to Cincinnati drafting him)
- Matthias Askew: subdued by a taser after refusing to move his allegedly illegally parked car (Askew was cut from the team during the preason games. He is currently seeking legal action against the officers responsible for his being tasered in a lawsuit worth $50 million after the charges were proven unfounded).
- Eric Steinbach: charged with boating under the influence.
- Reggie McNeal: charged with resisting arrest and drug possession (Dec. 3rd, 2006)
- Deltha O'Neal: charged with driving while intoxicated following a traffic stop (Dec. 9, 2006).
Lawsuit dropped 
The lawsuit introduced by a city council member charging the Bengals' organization with making the deal in bad faith was dropped.
|2006 Cincinnati Bengals staff|
Special Teams Coaches
Strength and Conditioning
Regular season 
||This article reads more like a story than an encyclopedia entry. (December 2007)|
Week 1: at Kansas City Chiefs 
The Bengals opened the regular season on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs on September 10. The Chiefs scored first on a 29-yard field goal by opposing kicker Lawrence Tynes. However, in the second quarter, the Bengals exploded with 17-straight points. Kicker Shayne Graham tied the game up with a 37-yard field goal, then RB Rudi Johnson ran 22 yards for a touchdown, and RB Kenny Watson ran 8 yards for a TD, making the score 17–3 at halftime. After both sides failed to score in the third quarter, a third quarter marked by Trent Green getting tackled so hard that he did not remember it (and subsequently resulted in his removal from the game), Bengals kicker Shayne Graham made the score 20–3 with a 42-yard field goal. Afterwards, the Chiefs tried to come back with a 9-yard TD pass from opposing back-up QB Damon Huard to opposing TE Tony Gonzalez. A 36-yard field goal by Graham would put the game away in favor of the Bengals as they began the season 1–0.
Week 2: vs. Cleveland Browns 
The Bengals began Round 1 of 2006's Battle of Ohio in the Week 2 home-opener against the Cleveland Browns. Cincinnati started off with QB Carson Palmer throwing a 22-yard TD pass to WR Kelley Washington. The Browns would respond with a 30-yard FG by opposing Kicker Phil Dawson. The Bengals would further their lead with Palmer throwing an 8-yard TD pass to WR Chad Johnson. In the second quarter, Kicker Shayne Graham kicked a 37-yard field goal as time ran out in the half to give Cincinnati a 17–3 halftime lead. There wouldn't be any scoring in the third quarter, but in the fourth, points were flying everywhere. Graham would give the Bengals a 37-yard field goal, but then, the Browns responded with a 1-yard TD run by opposing RB Reuben Droughns. Two TD runs by RB Rudi Johnson (a 1-yarder and a 9-yarder) helped put the game out of reach. The Browns would get one more touchdown with opposing QB Charlie Frye scoring on a 2-yard run, but the game belonged to the Bengals as they improved to 2–0.
There were several injuries to Bengal players in starting positions. David Pollack, a 2nd year linebacker, suffered a non-paralysis broken neck (fracture of the C6 vertabrae) and was out for the rest of the season, and potentially for his career. Offseason free agent veteran acquisition, Dexter Jackson, had a severe ankle sprain and the amount of time he would be lost was not clear. Long time Bengal center, Rich Braham also suffered a leg injury and was expected to be out for some weeks. Popular receiving star, Chad Johnson had a few incidents that appeared to hamper him. On his 8-yard touchdown pass his shoulder was injured (noticeable by his unenthusiastic post-score celebratory dance) and, even though he continued to play, appeared to be in pain. Later in the game, during an intercepted pass by the Browns, he was blindsided hit by Brown's safety causing a concussion. A special team starter, Tab Perry, was also injured (hip) and appears to be out for a few games.
The loss of so many starting players and possible unavailability of other key players is a concern for the upcoming game at Pittsburgh.
Week 3: at Pittsburgh Steelers 
The Bengals maintained their shared lead in the AFC North (3–0, 2–0) by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 28–20 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The game was marred by sloppy play by both teams, however Cincinnati benefitted greatly by creating 5 Steeler turnovers and blocking a Jeff Reed field goal attempt.
Pittsburgh appeared to be well on their way to a win, with Willie Parker scoring a touchdown on their first drive of the game. Following a Deshea Townsend interception of Carson Palmer, the Steelers again drove into the redzone, however a Ben Roethlisberger pass was intercepted by Madieu Williams in the end zone and returned to the three-yard line.
The change in momentum was evident as the Bengals marched 97 yards capped by a 16 yard touchdown pass from Palmer to Chris Henry. Following a blocked field goal by John Thornton, Palmer and Henry would reconnect in the endzone late in the second quarter giving Cincinnati a 14–7 lead at the half.
In the third quarter Pittsburgh took back the momentum, scoring a field goal on their first drive followed by an Ike Taylor interception of Palmer on the Bengals' first drive of the half, setting up the Steelers on the Bengals' 7. Parker scored 4 plays later giving the Steelers a 17–14 lead.
After the touchdown, neither offense could get on track with the next seven drives ending in either punts or turnovers. With 8 minutes left in the game, the Bengals were forced to punt. A muffed return by Ricardo Colclough and subsequent recovery by the Bengals' Tony Stewart gave the Bengals the ball on the Steelers' 9. Palmer connect with T. J. Houshmandzadeh on the first play from scrimmage giving the Bengals a 21–17 lead. The Bengal defense responded by forcing a fumble on the next Steeler drive, giving the offense the ball on the Steeler 30-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Palmer again went to Houshmandzadeh in the end zone, connecting for a 30 yard touchdown and extending the lead to 28–17. The Steeler offense returned on the next possession, driving to the Bengals' 18 and adding another Jeff Reed field goal. After forcing a Bengal 3-and-out, the Steelers received the ball on their own 11 with 2:42 to play in the game. Roethlisberger was able to drive the Steelers down to the Bengals' 16 yard line, however the game effectively ended when a pass intended for Nate Washington in the end zone was intercepted by Kevin Kaesviharn.
The Bengals showed maturity and patience in an important win against the Steelers while improving to 3–0. However, the Bengals allowed 6 sacks, gave up 3 turnovers and were unable to involve either of the "Johnsons" as a significant part of the offense. The Bengals looked to improve in week 4 at home against the Patriots.
Odell Thurman was arrested for a DUI with teammates Chris Henry and Reggie McNeal in the vehicle. Odell had just entered the 3rd game of a 4 game suspension for violating the NFL's drug policy. The NFL suspended him for the remainder of the season.
Week 4: vs. New England Patriots 
The Bengals quarterback protection issues seemed to continue as Palmer was sacked an additional four times during this game. This was a major change to last year's success in that area, where Palmer was sacked only 21 times for the entire year. Already, this year,[when?] he's been sacked 16 times. For the offense and defense the running game proved problematic. Rudi Johnson failed to gain 50 yards on the ground while the Patriots' running backs, former Bengal Corey Dillon and rookie RB Laurence Maroney, combined for 192 rushing yards. Even Patriots QB Tom Brady uncharacteristically got into the act with a 22-yard scamper, even though he's usually considered a run-shy player. Caleb Miller started in the right linebacker position and led the Bengals in tackles during the game.
The passing offense for the Bengals appeared largely unsuccessful. Although WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh gained 94 yards, his starting counterpart, WR Chad Johnson, did not gain more than 70. WR Chris Henry was deactivated for the game for what was believed to be a disciplinary measure by Head Coach Marvin Lewis for his involvement in Odell Thurman's DUI incident.
This was the first game that Corey Dillon played at Paul Brown Stadium as a non-Bengal during a regular season game. His controversial behavior in his latter years with the Bengals made him a target for anger for many Bengals' fans.[who?] According to post-game reports, Dillon waved the rookie running back off the field when the Patriots were close to scoring a touchdown so Dillon could run it in himself. When he did he threw the football into the stands and proceeded to celebrate with such length and production, he drew a flag for a personal foul from the referees. Typically an NFL ball that made it to stands is considered a rare souvenir, but because of Dillon's reputation within the Bengals' fan base, the ball was rejected by the fans and tossed back onto the field instead.
The Cincinnati Bengals fell to second place in the AFC North (3–1) after a disappointing loss to the New England Patriots, 38–13. Going into the bye-week, there is an expectation of the extra weekend will give some injured Bengals the time they need to return and play.[according to whom?] Historically speaking, Lewis has done a great job with the first game after a bye, having won the majority of those games but as coach for the Bengals his record to this point was 1–2.
Week 5: Bye 
The NFL determined Chris Henry would be suspended for the next 2 NFL games due to his involvement with the DUI incident involving Odell Thurman.
Week 6: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 
Hoping to rebound from their home loss to the Patriots, the Bengals flew to Raymond James Stadium for a Week 6 fight with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After a scoreless first quarter, Cincinnati took an early lead, as QB Carson Palmer completed a 33-yard TD pass to WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh for the only score of the half. In the third quarter, the Bucs would tie the game, as QB Bruce Gradkowski completed a 2-yard TD pass to TE Alex Smith, but the Bengals would regain the lead as kicker Shayne Graham kicked a 37-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, Graham would help Cincinnati increase the lead with a 47-yard field goal. During the last drive for the Buccaneers, on 1st down after penetrating the Bengals' 20 yard line close to scoring, DE Justin Smith apparently made the first sack of Gradkowski for the game during a solo tackle, however, the officiating crew felt Smith tackled the QB in such a way as to have driven the QB's head into the ground and penalized the Bengals for roughing the passer. The call is currently being reviewed by the league but a public statement will probably never be made by the NFL officiating committee if the call was errant or not (the NFL later reviewed the play and sent a letter of apology to the Bengals for the bad call). During the apparent sack, Smith caused a fumble which was recovered by the Bengals, with less than 2 minutes left on the clock and the Bucs with no time outs. When the play was overturned due to the controversial call, Tampa Bay managed to win on an 8-yard TD pass from Gradkowski to WR Michael Clayton later in the drive. Originally, it was ruled incomplete, but replay reviews managed to see that Clayton managed to break the plane of the goal line before losing the ball. With less than 1:30 minutes left in the game the Bengals drove from their 30 to the Bucs' side of the field and tried an extremely long 62-yard field goal against the prevailing winds and missed. With the loss, Cincinnati hold a 3–2 record. Lewis' win/loss ratio after the bye with the Bengals fell to 1–3.
In a post-game interview when Marvin Lewis was asked how Justin Smith might have avoided drawing the controversial roughing the passer penalty during the attempted sack, he responded "I don’t know. I guess you have to cuddle him to the ground."
Justin Smith said "I've never seen anything like that in my six years in the NFL." The official who made the call "must have season tickets down here." He further explained ""The dude (QB) ducked", suggesting it wasn't the force of Smith tackling but the QB's effort to double-over and protect the ball that made it appear he was being forced into the ground head first.
Houshmandzadeh said "You might as well put a red jersey on (Gradkowski) and play two-hand touch."
Week 7: vs. Carolina Panthers 
Hoping to rebound from their embarrassing loss to the Bucs, the Bengals went home for a showdown with the Carolina Panthers. In the first quarter, things didn't start out good for Cincinnati as Panthers QB Jake Delhomme completed a 7-yard TD pass to TE Kris Mangum for the only score of the period. In the second quarter, the Bengals managed to get on the board with QB Carson Palmer completing a 16-yard TD pass to TE Reggie Kelly. However, Carolina would respond with Delhomme completing a 20-yard TD pass to RB Nick Goings. In the second half of the game, it was all Cincinnati, with kicker Shayne Graham nailing a 23-yard field goal in the third quarter and Palmer completing a 1-yard TD pass to WR T. J. Houshmandzadeh. The drive which led to Housh's (a nickname used by local radio commentators for Houshmandzadeh) was kept alive by an uncharacteristically risky play. On 4th and 1 instead of the expected, and typically successful quarterback push in the middle or a short-yardage dive play involving a running back, the Bengals ran a "play action pass". Carson tossed a high arching pass down the sideline where a sprinting Chad Johnson caught up to it and made a tumbling catch just out of the reach of the defender for a 32-yard gain. The Panthers' last scoring opportunity was thwarted by Delhomme's first interception ever thrown as a Panther when in the opponent's 20 yard line. Kevin Kaesviharn made the interception to end the threat, much like the pass he intercepted during the Steeler's game earlier this year. This game saw the return of 3rd down running back specialist Chris Perry and safety Dexter Jackson. With the victory, the Bengals improved to 4–2, tying the Ravens for the lead in the AFC North.
There has been some speculation that the Panthers game may prove to be a pivotal moment in the Bengals' season. Specifically a focus on the daring 4th and 1 play that went for 32 yards. The somewhat downtrodden Bengals' offense is expected to have gained some confidence after their showing.
During this time period the Bengals' held a workout for former Bengal Peter Warrick. This appears to be in response to their thinning receiving corps.
After being relatively silent for most of the season Chad Johnson spoke out boastfully before the Atlanta game predicting he would score multiple touchdowns and damage the defensive back rival, DeAngelo Hall, into being cut from Atlanta's team. Chad stated he was using this opportunity for the offense to regain some of its confidence and swagger.
Week 8 vs. Atlanta Falcons 
Following their victory against the Panthers, the Bengals stayed at home for a throwdown with the visiting Atlanta Falcons. In the first quarter, the Falcons drew first blood, as kicker Morten Andersen nailed a 42-yard field goal. The Bengals would respond with a 1-yard TD run by RB Rudi Johnson. Yet, Atlanta drew closer with Andersen kicking a 40-yard field goal. In the second quarter, Cincinnati added on to their lead with QB Carson Palmer completing a 12-yard TD pass to WR Chad Johnson. However, the Falcons would respond with QB Michael Vick completing a 16-yard TD pass to TE Alge Crumpler. The Bengals had kicker Shayne Graham nail a 51-yard field goal near the end of the half. In the third quarter, the Falcons started to get some steam with Vick completing a 26-yard TD pass to WR Michael Jenkins. Graham would kick a 26-yard field goal for Cincinnati's only score of the period, yet Vick managed to hook up with FB Justin Griffith, which was followed up with a bobbled snap on the PAT and a failed two-point conversion). In the fourth quarter, Andersen helped the Falcons get a 39-yard field goal and a semi-hefty lead over Cincinnati. The Bengals would respond with Palmer completing a 55-yard TD pass to WR Chris Henry. However, on their last drive, any chance for Cincinnati to pull off a comeback ended in a fumble, as the Falcons held on to win, while making the Bengals fall to 4–3.What happened during practice is Chad Johnson, on the back of his name label, it says Ocho Cinco instead of C. Johnson.Soon, Carson Palmer ripped it off to reveal C.Johnson.
Week 9: at Baltimore Ravens 
Hoping to rebound from their home loss to the Falcons, the Bengals flew to M&T Bank Stadium for an AFC North fight with the Baltimore Ravens. From the get-go, the Bengals trailed, as RB Jamal Lewis got a 2-yard TD run, while QB Carson Palmer got intercepted by CB Samari Rolle at Cincinnati's 49-yard line. Rolle would go 24 yards, before lateraling the ball off to Free Safety Ed Reed, who ran the remaining 25 yards for a touchdown. In the second quarter, kicker Matt Stover got a 43-yard field goal for the Ravens. The Bengals would finally get a touchdown, as Palmer completed a 26-yard TD pass to WR T. J. Houshmandzadeh. In the third quarter, Stover got two more field goals for Baltimore (a 25-yarder and a 36-yarder), while Cincinnati kicker Shayne Graham nailed a 51-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, the Bengals started to claw back with RB Rudi Johnson getting a 4-yard TD run. However, Stover got another field goal, which was from 35 yards out. Even though Graham would get a 31-yard field goal, the Ravens emerged as the victor, while the Bengals fell to 4–4.
Week 10 vs. San Diego Chargers 
Hoping to snap their two-game skid, the Bengals went home for a Week 10 match-up of former AFL West rivals with the San Diego Chargers. The Bengals started off strong with FB Jeremi Johnson getting a 3-yard TD run. Afterwards, RB Rudi Johnson got a 7-yard TD run and QB Carson Palmer completed a 51-yard TD to WR Chad Johnson. In the second quarter, the Chargers managed to get on the board with RB LaDainian Tomlinson getting a 9-yard TD run. Cincinnati would respond with Palmer completing a 7-yard TD pass to WR Chris Henry. For the second half, the points came in huge chunks. In the third quarter, San Diego responded with Tomlinson getting a 4-yard TD run, while QB Philip Rivers completed a 46-yard TD pass to WR Malcom Floyd. The Bengals would respond with kicker Shayne Graham getting a 21-yard field goal. The Chargers would strike with Rivers completing a 9-yard TD pass to TE Brandon Manumaleuna. The Bengals would answer with Palmer completing a 73-yard TD pass to Chad Johnson. In the fourth quarter, the points didn't stop coming in, as San Diego responded with Tomlinson getting a 2-yard TD run and a 9-yard TD run. Cincinnati would get a 44-yard field goal from Graham, but the Chargers wrapped up this high scoring contest with Rivers and Manumaleuna hooking up with each other again on a 5-yard TD pass. With the loss, the Bengals fell to 4–5.
Week 11 at New Orleans Saints 
Hoping to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, the Bengals traveled to the Louisiana Superdome for a Week 11 fight with the New Orleans Saints. In the first quarter, the Bengals drew first blood as QB Carson Palmer completed a 41-yard TD pass to WR Chad Johnson. However, the Saints would reply with QB Drew Brees completing a 72-yard TD strike to WR Joe Horn. In the second quarter, Cincinnati took the lead before halftime as kicker Shayne Graham nailed a 21-yard field goal. After a scoreless third quarter, New Orleans tried to come back in the fourth quarter, as kicker John Carney nailed a 24-yard field goal. The Bengals offense went into overdrive as Palmer and Johnson connected with each other two more times with a 60-yard TD pass and a 4-yard TD pass. Then, the defense helped out as rookie DB Ethan Kilmer returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown. The Saints could managed only one more touchdown, as Brees completed a 27-yard TD pass to WR Terrance Copper (with a missed PAT), but the Bengals managed to snap a three-game skid and improve to 5–5.
Week 12: at Cleveland Browns 
Coming off of their impressive road win over the Saints, the Bengals flew to Cleveland Browns Stadium for Round 2 of the Battle of Ohio against the Cleveland Browns. From beginning to end, Cincinnati dominated the game. In the first quarter, the domination began with RB Rudi Johnson getting a 1-yard TD run for the only score of the period. In the second quarter, QB Carson Palmer completed a 7-yard TD pass to WR Chris Henry, while kicker Shayne Graham completed a 24-yard field goal. In the third quarter, Palmer would hook up with WR T. J. Houshmandzadeh on a 6-yard TD pass (with a failed PAT) for the only score of the period. In the fourth quarter, Palmer and Henry would hook up one more time on a 10-yard TD pass. With their second-straight sweep over Cleveland, the Bengals improved to 6–5.
Week 13: vs. Baltimore Ravens 
Coming off of their dominate road win over the Browns, the Bengals went home for a Thursday Night fight in an AFC North rematch against the Baltimore Ravens. After a scoreless first quarter, kicker Shayne Graham helped the Bengals draw first blood with a 23-yard and a 27-yard field goal. In the third quarter, things went even better as QB Carson Palmer completed a 40-yard TD pass to WR T. J. Houshmandzadeh on a flea flicker for the only score of the period. In the fourth quarter, the Ravens had a late comeback as QB Steve McNair completed a 36-yard TD pass to WR Derrick Mason, but the Bengals squashed any chance of Baltimore's comeback by succeeding on the onside kick. With the win, the Bengals improved to 7–5. Shane Graham missed the 1st extra point attempt in his entire career as it was blocked bringing his 158 success streak to an end. Chris Perry suffered another season-ending injury during this game and has not played a full season of professional football in his career yet.
Between weeks 14 and 15 
Deltha O'Neal became the 8th Bengal since the 2005 – 2006 season to be arrested. He was charged with drunk driving. He did not play in the next game but had been nursing a nagging injury for many previous weeks. It was not clear if he did not play as a disciplinary measure or due to the injury.
Week 14: vs. Oakland Raiders 
The 2–10 Raiders came into Paul Brown Stadium Kevin Malone was at this game in which with a highly-ranked pass defense and poorly ranked offense. Even though QB Carson Palmer uncharacteristically threw 3 interceptions and RB Rudi Johnson fumbled the ball away, the 4 turnovers given to the Raiders were not enough for their offense to mount any consistent scoring efforts. Graham missed another extra point but it was unblocked. Cincinnati also did not punt once during this game. For the first time in Bengals' history, four players were over 100 yards in offensive production (Carson, Houshmandzadeh, Chad and Rudi Johnson). The Bengals' defense, although facing an unproductive Raiders' offense, continued their dominance.
After going on this 4-game win streak, and various AFC teams contending for the wild card spots losing on week 14, the Bengals regained control of their own destiny in regards to the playoffs while improving to 8–5. The next week they would go to Indianapolis to face the Colts. The possibility of the Bengals winning the AFC North division was still alive.
Week 15: at Indianapolis Colts 
Following their victory over the Raiders, the Bengals flew to the RCA Dome for a Monday Night fight with the Indianapolis Colts. In the first quarter, things started off slow with Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri nailing 30-yard field goal, while kicker Shayne Graham got a 27-yard field goal. In the second quarter, Indianapolis took the lead with QB Peyton Manning completed a 4-yard TD pass to WR Marvin Harrison. Cincinnati responded with RB Rudi Johnson got a 12-yard TD run. However, Manning hooked up with Harrison again on a 3-yard TD pass. In the third quarter, the Bengals managed to have Graham kick a 30-yard field goal. However, things got worse with Manning completing a 1-yard TD pass to Harrison while completing an 18-yard TD pass to WR Reggie Wayne. In the fourth quarter, Cincinnati's only response was Graham's 28-yard field goal. Afterwards, the Colts wrapped the game up with Vinatieri's 44-yard field goal. With the loss, not only did the Bengals fall to 8–6, but their loss allowed their division rival, the Baltimore Ravens, to win the division.
Week 16: at Denver Broncos 
Trying to rebound from their road loss to the Colts, the Bengals flew to Invesco Field at Mile High for a snowy Week 16 intraconference fight with the Denver Broncos. In the first quarter, Cincinnati struck first with RB Rudi Johnson's 6-yard TD run for the only score of the period. In the second quarter, the Broncos struck back with QB Jay Cutler completing a 1-yard TD pass to TE Tony Scheffler and a 39-yard TD pass to WR Javon Walker. The Bengals pounced back into the lead with kicker Shayne Graham's 46-yard field goal and QB Carson Palmer's 11-yard TD pass WR Chris Henry. However, in the second half, Denver pulled ahead with RB Mike Bell's 2-yard TD run in the third quarter and kicker Jason Elam's 24-yard field goal. Cincinnati would pull within one point with Palmer's 10-yard TD pass to WR T. J. Houshmandzadeh. On the extra point attempt, punter/holder Kyle Larson had the snap go right through his hands, securing the loss. With that, the Bengals fell to 8–7.
Week 17 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 
Trying to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, the Bengals wrapped up their regular season at home with a crucial AFC North rematch game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bengals had two possible options for reaching the post-season 1 – A Bengals win and a Jets loss, or 2 – A Kansas City Chiefs win, a Denver Broncos loss and a Bengals win. After a scoreless first quarter, the Steelers struck first with RB Willie Parker scoring a 1-yard TD run. Afterwards, Cincinnati would manage to score with kicker Shayne Graham nailing a 34-yard field goal. After a scoreless third quarter, the Bengals would take the lead after recovering a Willie Parker fumble on the 1-yard-line, when QB Carson Palmer completed a 66-yard TD pass to WR Chris Henry. Afterwards, Pittsburgh retook the lead with Parker getting another 1-yard TD run. Cincinnati would then jump back into the lead with Palmer completing a 5-yard TD pass to TE Tony Stewart. The Steelers would manage to tie the game late in the 4th period with kicker Jeff Reed's 35-yard field goal, yet the Bengals managed to quickly move into field goal range. However, Graham's game-winning 39-yard field goal attempt went wide right. In overtime, the Steelers won with QB Ben Roethlisberger completing a 67-yard TD pass to WR Santonio Holmes. With the loss, not only did Cincinnati fall to 8–8, but their three-straight losses to end the season denied the Bengals of their playoff chances. In a cruel twist of fate, the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Denver Broncos lost to the San Francisco 49ers meaning that the Bengals cost themselves the post-season and ensured that Cincinnati would once again have nothing invested in the playoffs. It was Marvin Lewis' third 8 – 8 season in his four years as the Bengals head coach.
|z (2) Baltimore Ravens||13||3||0||.813||5–1||10–2||353||201||W4|