HOF Week 2 History piece: Riverfront Memories


Riverfront Memories
A look back as the Bengals move into their new home
by profootballhof.com

This year the Cincinnati Bengals begin the season in a new environment. After 30 years at Riverfront Stadium, which was renamed Cinergy Field in 1997, the Bengals have moved to the spanking new Paul Brown Stadium. A look back through the Bengals' Riverfront years reveals many memorable and record-breaking occasions. Here's a look at some of those history-making moments.

The new Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati

The new Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati

November 15, 1970
Art Modell and the Cleveland Browns travel to Cincinnati for the first time. Bengals founder and coach Paul Brown desperately wants to beat his former team. Brown's unexpected firing as Cleveland's coach and general manager several years ago was a huge motivation before the game. To make matters worse, the favored Browns defeated the Bengals in their first-ever meeting earlier in the season.

The game was all Cleveland early on as the Browns built a commanding 10-0 lead in the second quarter. But the Bengals quickly struck back when Virgil Carter completed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jess Phillips before the half ended. Then, in the only score of the second half, Paul Robinson ran for a one-yard touchdown in the third quarter. As the final gun sounded, Paul Brown tossed his hat in the air and ran into the locker room with 14-10 victory. "This is my best victory, ever," said Brown after the game. Quite a bold statement for a man who had won seven championships with the Browns.

January 10, 1981
In what would go down as one of the coldest games in NFL history, the San Diego Chargers traveled to Riverfront Stadium for the 1981 AFC Championship Game. The game time temperature was nine degrees below zero. Combine that with 35 mile per hour winds and you had a wind-chill factor of 59 degrees below zero. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle briefly considered postponing the game but later decided that the show must go on.

Despite the frigid conditions, both teams fared well with the passing game early on. Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson hit M.L. Harris from eight yards out to put his team ahead 10-0 in the first quarter. The Chargers responded quickly when the Hall of Fame tandem of Dan Fouts and Kellen Winslow connected on a 33-yard scoring strike. Nevertheless, the Bengals got to warm up in their locker room with a 17-7 halftime lead after Pete Johnson scored a touchdown midway through the second quarter. The second half belonged to the Bengals as San Diego battled the climate and turnovers. Final score: Cincinnati 27, San Diego 7. "I can't ever remember a colder day than this one," said Bengals coach Forrest Gregg. He'll likely never forget it, because the win propelled the Bengals to their first Super Bowl.

Corey Dillon's jersey from 12-4-97

Corey Dillon's record-setting jersey in the Modern Era Mementos display at the Hall

December 4, 1997
The fact that the Tennessee Oilers were coming to town was nothing unusual, but that it occurred on a Thursday night was unique. In fact, this was the first Thursday night home game in Cincinnati's history. The unusual setting would be the perfect backdrop for a record-breaking performance.

Corey Dillon, the bruising running back for the Bengals would, on this night, set an NFL rookie rushing record with 246 yards on 39 carries and four touchdowns. Dillon surpassed the old mark of 237 yards set 40 years prior by Jim Brown. "He was unstoppable," said Tennessee running back Eddie George. That was the sentiment throughout both teams' locker rooms after the game. Dillon's performance guided the Bengals to a 41-14 drubbing of the Oilers and extinguished any flicker of playoff hopes in Tennessee. The jersey that Dillon wore during that record-breaking performance can be seen on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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