Far be it from me to conclude a top-ten stories of the year list with the most important; a beautifully sung 11-win season that was capped with another AFC North Championship.
Despite a three-point loss to the Chicago Bears and an unexpected 11-point defeat against the enthusiastic Cleveland Browns (at the time... slightly less now), the Bengals won six of the first eight games of the season. And they were exciting games. A timely rainstorm drenched New England's chance to overcome a 13-6 deficit. Two close wins against the Bills and Lions with identical 27-24 scores led to a beautiful blowout against the New York Jets.
Yet, things got a little messy for a period.
Overtime losses to the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens momentarily paused the enthusiasm. Cincinnati recovered, winning five of the last six, including convincing victories over the San Diego Chargers and Indianapolis Colts, while eliminating the Baltimore Ravens from the postseason.
The AFC North championship season in '09 was exciting for it's last second heroics. Maybe comparable had the '09 squad slowed to a crawl towards the end of the season.
But this season had everything.
One could even argue that '13 was the best season during the Marvin Lewis era. I still hold some reservations; loved the '05 squad. Regardless, this team had the makings for history since being on HBO's Hard Knocks. You knew from the start that it was just a special team.