The 1996 Cincinnati Bengals season was the team's 29th year in professional football and its 27th with the National Football League. The Dave Shula era comes to a sudden end when he is fired after a 1–6 start, as Jeff Blake struggles with turnovers. Former Bengals TE Bruce Coslet, former New York Jets head coach, and the team's offensive coordinator, would replace Shula as head coach. The move paid off right away as the Bengals won the first 3 games under Coslet. After losing two of their next three games, the Bengals closed the year with three straight wins to finish with an 8–8 record. One bright spot during the season, was that WR Carl Pickens became the first member of the Bengals to have 100 receptions in a season.
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