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The Bengals weathered a season with the only five-game road trip in franchise history, finishing 9-7 and claiming the AFC Central title out of a three-way tie with Houston and Pittsburgh. Cincinnati finished first based on best head-to-head record against the other two teams (3-1). Houston earned a Wild Card berth, and Pittsburgh missed postseason, based on the Oilers topping the Steelers in the tiebreaker of record against all AFC opponents. The Bengals had no assurance of making the playoffs entering the season's final day, but they earned the division title by beating Cleveland in an afternoon game, combined with a Houston victory over Pittsburgh that night. The Bengals had stayed in the race in Week 15 by pounding Houston 40-20 at Riverfront Stadium, and they pounded the Oilers again at home in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, prevailing 41-14. Cincinnati was eliminated the next week in the Divisional round at Los Angeles, falling 20-10 to the Raiders. In the L.A. game, Raiders RB Bo Jackson, the dual-sport superstar, suffered a hip injury in the third quarter when tackled by Bengals LB Kevin Walker. Though the tackle looked routine and the injury was not initially considered serious, it proved to be a hip dislocation that ended Jackson's pro football career. He never would play in another NFL game, and in baseball, he would not again appear in as many as 100 games in a season. The Bengals had to play five straight regular-season games on the road because their scheduled Oct. 14 home game against Houston was moved to Houston, due to a stadium conflict with Reds postseason baseball play. The Reds in fact did not wind up playing at home on Oct. 14, but the schedule change had to be made in advance — on the basis of the baseball game being possible — because Riverfront Stadium's baseball/football conversion process was too cumbersome to allow a late decision. The Bengals schedule had called for two road games prior to Oct. 14 and two road games after Oct. 14. The Bengals finished 2-3 on the trip, and their scheduled Dec. 23 game at Houston was moved to Cincinnati. In the second of the five straight road games, a 34-31 overtime win against the L.A. Rams at Anaheim Stadium, Boomer Esiason passed for 490 yards, a team record that still stands through 2017. Esiason passed for only 412 yards before the overtime, however, leaving Ken Anderson's 447 in 1975 vs. Buffalo as the highest club total in regulation time. Prior to the season, offensive coordinator Bruce Coslet left the Bengals to become head coach of the N.Y. Jets, and in the Sept. 9 regular-season opener, at Riverfront, the Bengals beat the Jets 25-20.

AFC Wild Card Playoff

Having been involved in a feisty regular-season rivalry with Houston for several years, Cincinnati got the chance to tangle with the Oilers in the postseason and responded with the most lopsided playoff win in team history. The Bengals out-gained the Oilers by 123 yards (349-226) and set team postseason records for points (still stands) and victory margin (still stands), using a well-balanced offensive attack. Cincinnati's rushing game out-gained Houston 187-67, yet no Bengals rusher totaled more than 57 yards. Cincinnati's passing game added another 162 net yards, yet no Bengals receiver had more than two catches. Houston, however, failed to mount a serious threat the entire game. The Bengals led 34-0 before the Oilers scored their first point late in the third quarter. Ironically, it was the Oilers who helped put the Bengals in the playoffs the previous week. Houston beat Pittsburgh 34-14 in its Sunday night regular-season finale, allowing Cincinnati to win the AFC Central Division tiebreaker (the Bengals, Oilers and Steelers all had finished 9-7).

AFC Divisional Playoff

Los Angeles QB Jay Schroeder, who would join the Bengals as a free agent in 1993, threw two TD passes to help the Raiders defeat Cincinnati and advance to the AFC Championship game. Cincinnati scored first on Jim Breech's 27-yard FG in the second quarter, but Schroeder hit WR Mervyn Fernandez with a 13-yard scoring strike to give Los Angeles a 7-3 halftime lead. The Raiders increased their lead to 10-3 on K Jeff Jaeger's 49-yard FG in the third quarter, and put the game away with 10 unanswered fourth-quarter points on a 41-yard Schroeder pass to TE Ethan Horton and a 25-yard Jaeger FG. The Raiders rushed for 235 yards, including 140 on 21 carries by RB Marcus Allen. DE Greg Townsend had three of the Raiders' four sacks. Raiders RB Bo Jackson, a popular two-sport professional athlete who also played Major League Baseball, rushed for 77 yards on six carries. This game, however, is best remembered by many as the contest that ended Jackson's NFL career. He suffered a hip injury on a tackle by Cincinnati LB Kevin Walker in the third quarter and, though the injury was not considered particularly severe at the time, Jackson never fully recovered to play in the NFL again.

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League Rankings

Table inside Article
OFFENSE 9 (316.4) 5 (132.5) 15 (183.9)
DEFENSE 25 (350.3) 22 (130.3) 26 (220.0)

Year Totals

Table inside Article
OFFENSE 943 277 2120 2943 5063 360
DEFENSE 1010 308 2085 3520 5605 352
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Individual Leaders

Table inside Article
Jim Breech Scoring
Boomer Esiason Passing
James Brooks Rushing
Eddie Brown Receptions
Tim McGee Receiving Yards
Lee Johnson Punting
Mitchell Price Punt Returns
Stanford Jennings Kickoff Returns
Jim Breech Field Goals
Barney Bussey, David Fulcher Interceptions
James Francis Sacks
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Coaching Staff

Table inside Article
Sam Wyche Head Coach
Jim Anderson Running Backs
Dana Bible Quarterbacks
Marv Braden Special Teams
Bill Johnson Tight Ends
Dick LeBeau Defensive Coordinator
Jim McNally Offensive Line
Dick Selcer Linebackers
Mike Stock Receivers
Chuck Studley Defensive Line
Kim Wood Strength

1990 NFL Draft: April 22 - 23

Table inside Article
1 James Francis LB Baylor 12
2 Harold Green RB South Carolina 38
3 Bernard Clark LB Miami (Fla.) 65
4 Mike Brennan T Notre Dame 91
5 Lynn James WR Arizona State 122
6 Don Odegard CB Nevada-Las Vegas 150
7 Craig Ogletree LB Auburn 177
8 Doug Wellsandt TE Washington State 204
9 Mitchell Price CB Tulane 234
10 Eric Crigler T Murray State 261
11 Tim O’Connor T Virginia 288
12 Andre Riley WR Washington 314

Pro Bowl

Players selected for the 1990 NFL Pro Bowl: RB James Brooks, S David Fulcher, TE Rodney Holman, OT Anthony Munoz