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Cincinnati Bengals History | 1997 -



On Feb. 13, the Bengals and Hamilton County reached tentative agreement on a western riverfront site for a new football stadium. The Bengals yielded to County wishes for a site one block farther west than the club's preferred spot, supporting the goal of opening central riverfront space for development of other attractions and neighborhoods between a football and a baseball stadium (though the baseball site had yet to be agreed upon.). A drawback for the development of the more western football site was that some of the needed land was not owned by the county, and that would lead to future delays, as well as higher costs than the Bengals' preferred site. On May 29, the 30-year Bengals lease was completed and signed. It was announced on May 29 that the facility would be named Paul Brown Stadium, with the Bengals agreeing to cover $5 million for the loss of potential corporate naming rights. On April 29, the Bengals received a favorable ruling in a tax case that had threatened the viability of the franchise. In United States Tax Court in Chicago, Judge John O. Colvin ruled that the heirs of the late Paul Brown were not liable for $40 million sought by the Internal Revenue Service, due to a dispute over Paul Brown's acquisition of team shares held formerly by John Sawyer. The Cincinnati Enquirer editorial page opined that the Bengals had been spared an unfair "ambush by the IRS." The football team opened training camp in a state-of-the-art new facility at Georgetown (Ky.) College, after 29 seasons of training at Wilmington (Ohio) College. On April 5, the Bengals had re-signed QB Boomer Esiason as a veteran No. 2 to back up Jeff Blake. Esiason had gone on to play for the Jets and Cardinals since playing for the Bengals from 1984-92. The team was struggling with a 2-7 record on Nov. 9 at Indianapolis when Blake was sidelined with a concussion, and the 36-year-old Esiason entered the game in the third quarter and led a comeback victory. The Bengals lost the next week at Pittsburgh with Blake as the starter, and Esiason was named starter for the final five games. The Bengals were 4-1 in his starts, and they scored 42 points in the start he lost. Esiason did not have enough pass attempts to qualify for a Bengals-record season passer rating, or for the NFL passing title, but he finished the season with a 106.9 rating. The team finished the season 7-9. It was the last Bengals hurrah for Esiason, who retired after the season to take a broadcasting job with ABC's Monday Night Football. The '97 season saw the debut of HB Corey Dillon, a second-round draft choice who stands through 2017 as the club's all-time leading rusher (8061 yards). On Dec. 4 vs. Tennessee at Cinergy Field, Dillon rushed for 246 yards and four TDs, breaking Jim Brown's NFL record for rushing yards in a game by a rookie (237) and tying the Bengals record for TDs and points in a game. Dillon's four TDs and 24 points remain tied for the Bengals record through 2017.

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League Rankings

Table inside Article
OFFENSE 10 (330.1) 9 (122.9) 13 (207.3)
DEFENSE 28 (355.1) 29 (138.9) 21 (216.2)

Year Totals

Table inside Article
OFFENSE 1002 310 1966 3316 5282 355
DEFENSE 1091 351 2223 3459 5682 405

Individual Leaders

Table inside Article
Doug Pelfrey Scoring
Jeff Blake Passing
Corey Dillon Rushing
Darnay Scott Receptions
Darnay Scott Receiving Yards
Lee Johnson Punting
Greg Myers Punt Returns
Eric Bieniemy Kickoff Returns
Doug Pelfrey Field Goals
Corey Sawyer Interceptions
Gerald Dixon Sacks

Coaching Staff

Table inside Article
Bruce Coslet Head Coach
Paul Alexander Offensive Line
Jim Anderson Running Backs
Ken Anderson Offensive Coordinator
Louie Cioffi Defensive Staff Assistant
Mark Duffner Linebackers
John Garrett Offensive Staff Assistant
Ray Horton Defensive Backs
Tim Krumrie Defensive Line
Dick LeBeau Assistant Head Coach/ Defensive Coordinator
Al Roberts Special Teams
Kim Wood Strength and Conditioning
Bob Wylie Tight Ends

1997 NFL Draft: April 19 - 20

Table inside Article
1 Reinard Wilson LB Florida State 14
2 Corey Dillon RB Washington 43
3 Rod Payne C Michigan 76
4 Tremain Mack S Miami (Fla.) 111
5 Andre Purvis NT North Carolina 144
6 Canute Curtis LB West Virginia 176
7 William Carr NT Michigan 217