Two other siblings weren’t in a position to make it, but the stars aligned that Saturday afternoon with great climate, a 24-hour roundtrip generate in a single weekend, and a memorable improve of landscapes expended with household as the Bengals pulled off an upset get. Lynch posted a image of the headstone to a Bengals Fb team, and soon it went viral, garnering much more attention as Cincinnati continued its sudden operate to Sunday’s Super Bowl versus the Los Angeles Rams.

“It was the ideal journey,” John Lynch said. “And as considerably as it would have been awesome to be in Tennessee, there was no superior way I would somewhat have spent that divisional round.”

Lynch’s first Bengals memory was likely to video games at the considering the fact that-demolished Riverfront Stadium with his father, James.

The final time the Bengals experienced playoff accomplishment before this time, Lynch, 43, was a child — he was just 9 when the Bengals dropped Super Bowl XXIII to the San Francisco 49ers in 1989, and he was 11 when the Bengals beat the Houston Oilers in 1991, their former postseason victory ahead of last month.

Shortly soon after the Bengals’ playoff victory in 1991, James Lynch died. But John’s recollections of viewing game titles with spouse and children have been kinds that he cherished as the Bengals endured by 1 disappointing year just after a different in the decades given that.

Lynch explained he believed the Bengals have been going to be really serious contenders in advance of — from the Jeff Blake days in the ’90s to the Carson Palmer era in the 2000s to the stretch of achievement with Andy Dalton and A.J. Inexperienced in the 2010s. But misfortune, injuries, mistakes and playoff heartbreak plagued the Bengals right up until this yr.

“It took a long time for that ball to come entire circle and start out bouncing our way,” Lynch explained. “But it is provided us new everyday living as far as the like for the Bengals and what it indicates to us.”

Lynch was at his daughter’s volleyball tournament all through the AFC championship recreation, so he recorded the game on his DVR and turned off his mobile phone off until eventually he was capable to get residence and watch without spoilers.

The Bengals fell guiding the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs 21-3 and trailed 21-10 at halftime, and Lynch admitted that in several years earlier he may well have experienced purpose to lose hope. But this 12 months felt distinct, and it was: The Bengals erased the deficit and inevitably received, 27-24, in overtime to advance to Tremendous Bowl LVI.

All of the several years of disappointment have made this yr “nothing shorter of miraculous” for Lynch, who joked that he told his spouse he experienced no plan how substantially pleasurable it was to communicate about the Bengals this late into the NFL time.

Lynch had prepared to return to his parents’ gravesite with family members for the Super Bowl, but his agenda won’t let for the excursion this time. However, Lynch continues to be grateful for the option to devote time with spouse and children for the divisional spherical, primarily right after Lynch’s mother, Ann, died all through the pandemic.

“It was very vital for us to choose edge of that time and just be jointly and see one a different,” Lynch mentioned. “I really do not get again home that usually just with lifetime in standard. And the pandemic helps make matters even more hard to go and do things.”

Lynch has also been extremely thankful for this year’s Super Bowl operate bringing his extended Bengals household with each other. He raved about the selection of folks who have sent him constructive messages since he posted the photograph of his parents’ gravesite online.

Amber Conley, of Liberty, Ind., assisted the Lynch family spend homage to their mom and dad, developing a customized shirt with a Tremendous Bowl brand. Conley FaceTimed Lynch as she put the shirt on his parents’ headstone in the midst of a snowstorm this week right before the significant recreation.

And even though Lynch will not be with his relatives in person Sunday, he and his siblings prepare to view the sport with each other on FaceTime. Lynch will be at dwelling with his spouse and two young ones, who have grow to be Bengals followers them selves, generating what he hopes is a new memory related to the types he created with his father.

“I imagine they are smiling and just proud of the persons that we’ve been,” Lynch mentioned about his mom and dad. “I think my dad specifically [is] proud in the way that I have instilled the enjoy for the Bengals in my two youngsters. … I believe they are really delighted with the whole scenario this year.”