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The defending AFC champions showed the ability to be among the NFL's most powerful teams, winning games by scores of 41-10, 56-23, 42-7 and 61-7. But injuries and inconsistencies defined the season, and Cincinnati finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs despite outscoring foes by 404-285. The plus-119 point differential stands through 2017 as the biggest plus in NFL history by a team without a winning record. The Bengals had a chance to claim a Wild Card berth in the final game of the league's regular season, a Monday night (Christmas night) match in Minnesota. But the Vikings, needing a win to clinch the NFL Central title, prevailed by 29-21. The Bengals started 4-1 but lost four of their next five. Colorful and controversial head coach Sam Wyche helped keep fans' emotions high as he sparred throughout the season with division rivals Cleveland and Houston. Wyche took repeated issue with rowdy crowd behavior in Cleveland Stadium's "Dawg Pound," and when Bengals fans threw snowballs on the field during a Dec. 10 home game vs. Seattle, Wyche grabbed a public address microphone and scolded the crowd, saying "You don't live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati." The next week, in the highest-drama moment of Wyche's long feud with Houston coach Jerry Glanville, Wyche eschewed running out the clock in the final minute despite holding a 58-7 lead over the Oilers. He called for a FG and got a 61-7 conquest, then blasted Glanville as a "phony" in his post-game news conference. Prior to the season, iconic Bengals WR Cris Collinsworth was released in final cuts. On Sept. 17 vs. Pittsburgh, 1988 rookie sensation Ickey Woods suffered a knee injury that would play a big part in short-circuiting his career. Woods would play only two more partial seasons (1990 and '91). On May 11, the long-troubled saga of Bengals FB Stanley Wilson ended when Wilson was permanently barred from the NFL by Commissioner Pete Rozelle. NFL fans had been shocked in March when Rozelle announced his impending retirement. Rozelle, noted often as the most successful sports commissioner in United States history, had been boosted into the job in 1960 as an unknown compromise candidate supported by the Bengals' Paul Brown. Rozelle was replaced by Paul Tagliabue on Oct. 26. The '89 draft stands through 2017 as the only one in which Cincinnati did not exercise a first-round choice. Slated originally to have the next-to-last selection in round one, the Bengals traded down with Atlanta and made RB Eric Ball their first selection, with the seventh pick of Round 2. LB Reggie Williams retired with the end of the season, his 14th as a Bengal. In November, Williams was elected to Cincinnati City Council, after having already served five months as an appointed replacement to fill a Charter Party vacancy.

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League Rankings

Table inside Article
OFFENSE 3 (381.3) 1 (155.2) 7 (226.1)
DEFENSE 7 (331.1) 10 (135.1) 9 (195.9)
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Year Totals

Table inside Article
OFFENSE 1083 348 2483 3618 6101 404
DEFENSE 997 280 2162 3135 5297 285
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Individual Leaders

Table inside Article
Jim Breech Scoring
Boomer Esiason Passing
James Brooks Rushing
Tim McGee Receptions
Tim McGee Receiving Yards
Lee Johnson Punting
Mike Martin Punt Returns
Stanford Jennings Kickoff Returns
Jim Breech Field Goals
David Fulcher Interceptions
Jason Buck Sacks
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Coaching Staff

Table inside Article
Sam Wyche Head Coach
Jim Anderson Running Backs
Bruce Coslet Offensive Coordinator
Bill Johnson Tight Ends
Dick LeBeau Defensive Coordinator
Jim McNally Offensive Line
Dick Selcer Linebackers
Mike Stock Special Teams
Chuck Studley Defensive Line
Kim Wood Strength
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1989 NFL Draft: April 23-24

Table inside Article
1 (sent to Atlanta in trade on 4-23-89) 27
2a Eric Ball (acquired from Atlanta in trade on 4-23-89) RB UCLA 35
2b Freddie Childress G Arkansas 55
3 Erik Wilhelm QB Oregon State 83
4a Kerry Owens (acquired from Atlanta in trade on 4-23-89) LB Arkansas 89
4b Rob Woods T Arizona 111
5 Natu Tuatagaloa NT California 138
6 Craig Taylor RB West Virginia 166
7 Kendal Smith WR Utah State 194
8 Chris Chenault LB Kentucky 222
9 Richard Stephens T Tulsa 250
10a Cornell Holloway (acquired from Atlanta in trade on 4-23-89) CB Pittsburgh 256
10b Bob Jean QB New Hampshire 278
11 Dana Wells NT Arizona 306
12 Scott Jones T Washington 334

Pro Bowl

Player selected for the 1989 NFL Pro Bowl: RB James Brooks, QB Boomer Esiason, S David Fulcher, TE Rodney Holman, G Max Montoya, OT Anthony Munoz