Bengals Playoff Atmosphere One For The Ages

220115-bengals-fans (AP)
Fans watch during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Las Vegas Raiders, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

From the start of the season, the fan's audible presence has been a force to be reckoned with. Harkening back to the game against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1, the Who Dey faithful caused a number of opposing false starts – five to be exact.

That same fanatical force – this time bundled up in layers – showed up to a sold out Paul Brown Stadium.

In fact, the 66,277 in attendance set the record for the most ever at the stadium breaking the previous record set back in 2007 against the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

From the Canopy Crazies at the top of Paul Brown Stadium all the way down to the heated benches on the sidelines, the Jungle could be heard all the way at the edges of the Hamilton County lines.

Every touchdown, big-play catch, pass breakup, tackle for loss and big rushing gain was celebrated in an intense fashion. Unfortunately for Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and the rest of the offense, the crowd was the 12th man on the field and ruthless against them forcing three false start penalties.

Throughout the week leading up to the eventual 26-19 Bengals win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Wild Card Weekend, players and coaches alike had said the locker room vibe had been as strong as had been all season.

"You can't tell (the team) that they can't do anything," Darrin Simmons said during Wednesday's press conference. "These guys believe in each other, they believe in what we're doing, and that's half of it."

That confidence and moxie have shown itself on the field and the fans have identified with it all season long. But, with a survive and advance scenario against the Raiders on Saturday, the atmosphere around the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area was cranked up to 11.

Whether it was the bright orange lights that light up the Queen City's skyline or the loud and proud fans that sing their hearts out to 'The Bengals Growl'. Whether it was the exciting charisma of the players who charge out to Guns & Roses, 'Welcome to the Jungle' or the successful schemes developed and dialed up by head coach Zac Taylor and his staff.

All of these components were crucial in creating the atmosphere needed to win in a playoff game. 

Looking back, the fans and city's sense of identity with the team (and vice versa) was started at the very beginning of the season. Nothing shows this more than the "Why Not Us" mentality coined by tight end C.J. Uzomah earlier in the year in response to league-wide doubters.

The sense of belief that had been instilled in the players, coaches, fans and the city got the team to this point and every conceivable amount of it was on full display on Saturday.