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‘We needed this’: Bengals pep rally attracts fans and politicians alike

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Cory Sharber
/
WVXU
The Cincinnati Ben-Gals cheerleading team kicked off the rally with a dance routine on the stage at Washington Park on Wednesday.

Following their unexpected Super Bowl run, the Cincinnati Bengals received honored during a pep rally at Washington Park on Wednesday.

Just two seasons ago, the Bengals were the worst team in the NFL. This season, Cincinnati won the AFC Championship and the AFC North division title.

On Wednesday, Head Coach Zac Taylor signed a contract extension with the Bengals until 2026. At the rally, he said his players are in it for the long run going forward after falling short on Sunday.

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Cory Sharber
/
WVXU
On Wednesday, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor signed a contract extension that will keep him in the Queen City until 2026.

"We've got a great group of players that you all have fallen in love with," Taylor said. "They love you all, they love making plays on the field, and I can promise you the one thing we took away from last weekend is we got to find a way to get back and win it all."

Bengals President Mike Brown thanked the fans for the positive energy they brought to the franchise this season.

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Cory Sharber
/
WVXU
Cincinnati Bengals owner and president Mike Brown addresses fans at the rally held in Washington Park on Wednesday.

"It has spread throughout the city, it has spread to our players in the locker room," Brown said. "They have picked up on it, it energizes them, they feel that support, they play better because of it and I thank you for the way you have responded this year. It's been wonderful."

Brown and Taylor received keys to the city from Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval toward the end of the rally.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine thanked the Bengals players for what they've accomplished this season as the state continues to deal with the pandemic.

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Cory Sharber
/
WVXU
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine made the trip from Columbus to Cincinnati to congratulate the Bengals on their AFC Championship run.

"We've come through a tough time in the last couple of years, we needed this," DeWine said. "We needed hope, we needed optimism, we needed victories, and they did it. This team did it and we're very, very grateful."

Multiple Bengals picked up honors for their work during the regular season. Quarterback Joe Burrow was named AP Comeback Player of the Year after returning from tearing both his ACL and MCL to lead the league in completion percentage. Pro Bowl rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase was named PFWA Offensive Rookie of the Year after making 81 receptions for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns. Rookie kicker Evan McPherson was named to the PFWA All-Rookie special teams.

Along with Chase, defensive end Trey Hendrickson and running back Joe Mixon were voted to the Pro Bowl. Hendrickson arrived to Cincinnati as a free agent during the off-season and picked up 13 sacks this season. Mixon rushed for over 1,000 yards for the season.

On Sunday, the Bengals lost to the Los Angeles Rams 23-20 in Super Bowl XVI. The Rams celebrated their victory with a rally on Wednesday as well. Los Angeles is led by Head Coach Sean McVay, who played college football at Miami University.