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Remember when? Last time Bengals played in Super Bowl

33 years after reaching Super Bowl, Cincinnati back in NFL's title game
Cincinnati Bengals running back Ickey Woods vs. San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIII, Jan. 22, 1989
Posted at 2:54 PM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 15:14:25-05

It's been a long time since the Cincinnati Bengals have been to the Super Bowl -- 33 years, to be exact.

Needless to say, a lot has changed since the Bengals last represented the AFC in the NFL's championship game.

Here are five historical or popular events that took place during the Bengals' 1988 run to Super Bowl XXIII.

Hello Batman, goodbye Robin

When the Bengals began their season, Adam West was the only actor to have portrayed the comic book hero Batman on the silver screen. Sure, there had been some 1940s serials released by Columbia Pictures, but it wasn't until "Batman: The Movie" was released in 1966 that the Caped Crusader had appeared in a full-length theatrical adaptation of the DC Comics character.

Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin in 1989
Actors Adam West and Burt Ward dresses as their characters (Zappp!) Batman and (Powww!) Robin during a Jan. 27, 1989, appearance at the "World of Wheels" custom car show in Chicago.

Two days after the Bengals lost their first game of the season in October 1988, Batman No. 428 was released. The comic is significant as it was the result of a 1980s-style of crowdsourcing — fans were asked to vote on whether Robin should live or die (the Jason Todd version of Robin, that is, not Dick Grayson). Alas, the fans elected that Robin should perish, killed in an explosion after being kidnapped and tortured by the Joker.

Production of the next "Batman" movie began that same month in London, starring Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader and Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Audiences wouldn't get to see Keaton's portrayal of the brooding, black-costumed superhero until a few months after the Super Bowl, when "Batman" opened in June 1989 and became the second highest-grossing movie of the year (behind "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"). Robin was not in the movie.

Tragedy at 31,000 feet

Four days after the Bengals concluded the regular season with a 12-4 record, Pan Am flight 103 took off from Heathrow Airport in London bound for New York City. But the 243 passengers and 16 crewmembers never made it there.

Less than 40 minutes into the flight, the plane exploded over Scotland, killing everyone on board.

Pan Am flight 103 bombing wreckage in Lockerbie, Scotland
On Dec. 21, 1988, Pan Am flight 103 from London's Heathrow Airport to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport was destroyed and the remains landed in and around the town of Lockerbie, Scotland. Forensic experts determined that plastic explosive had been detonated in the forward cargo hold. The death toll was 270 people from 21 countries, including 11 people in the town of Lockerbie.

Large sections of the plane crashed in a residential street in Lockerbie, killing 11 others.

Two Libyan nationals were later arrested in connection with the bombing, although one of the suspects was eventually acquitted during trial.

Pan Am was forced to file for bankruptcy in 1991 and ceased operations by the end of the year. The Lockerbie bombing remains the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the United Kingdom.

Have you ever seen the rain?

"Rain Man," the best picture winner for 1988, was the No. 1 movie in the box office when the Bengals last played in a Super Bowl.

The road drama stars Tom Cruise as a brash young wheeler-dealer who is forced to connect with his autistic savant brother (Dustin Hoffman) after the death of their estranged father.

Released the day before the Bengals played their final game of the regular season, "Rain Man" reached No. 1 in its third weekend and held onto the top spot at the box office through the first four weekends of 1989.

'Rain Man' producer Mark Johnson, actors Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, director Barry Levinson hold Oscars
"Rain Man" producer Mark Johnson, actors Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise and director Barry Levinson are all smiles as they display their Oscars after the movie was named best picture at the 61st Annual Academy Awards, March 29, 1989, in Los Angeles.

In addition to winning the top prize, "Rain Man" also fetched Oscars for director Barry Levinson, Hoffman and screenwriters Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass.

Rain was a popular theme in 1989. A few months after the Super Bowl, Milli Vanilli released the song "Blame It on the Rain," which eventually reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Then in September, "Black Rain," the Ridley Scott-helmed action thriller starring Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia, was released, spending two weeks at the top of the box office.

Hearts beat for Bengals and Phil Collins

The No. 1 song in America at the time of Super Bowl XXIII was "Two Hearts" by Phil Collins.

Released in November 1988, "Two Hearts" spent two weeks in the peak position on the Billboard Hot 100.

Phil Collins, star of 'Buster,' poses in front of piano in 1988
Rock superstar Phil Collins poses in front of a piano during a Dec. 16, 1988, interview in New York. Collins plays the title role in the movie "Buster," the story of Buster Edwards, one of the men who pulled off Britain's Great Train Robbery in 1963.

The song was written and recorded for inclusion on the soundtrack to the 1988 romantic comedy "Buster," which also starred Collins. The movie received far less acclaim than the song.

By the end of the 1989 NFL season, Collins would have another No. 1 hit with "Another Day in Paradise."

Bengals lose, but Bush wins

Two days before the Bengals would lose to the 49ers at what was then known as Joe Robbie Stadium, the late George H.W. Bush was sworn in as the 41st president of the United States.

Vice President George H.W. Bush holds football in 1988
Vice President George Bush tosses a football back to members of the traveling press corps after arriving in Houston on Monday, Nov. 7, 1988. Bush, in the last full day of campaigning, returned to Houston, where he will vote in the presidential election.

Bush, who had previously served as vice president to two-term President Ronald Reagan, defeated Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election.

The American leader was also an avid football fan. He was particularly fond of the Houston Oilers (who lost to Buffalo in the playoffs that season) and, later, the Houston Texans.

Bush died in 2018 at the age of 94.