Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has won 79 games with the team since being hired in 2003. Through the year Lewis has more winning seasons (4) than losing (3) during his ten seasons and among the 164 games coached, there have been some great wins. We take a look at the top-five wins during the Marvin Lewis era in a series of posts. We draw closer to the end, with No 2.
It all started with Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson, guaranteeing that the 4-5 Cincinnati Bengals will beat the 9-0 Kansas City Chiefs. "Yeah that's right," Johnson said near his locker in 2003. "I guarantee it. They (are) undefeated, we (are) trying to get to .500. It's (gonna) be fun." Johnson wasn't being crazy. The Bengals really were playing well at the time, coming into the game having won three of the past four, including a 34-26 win over the Raven (which we had to put in there just because we like our little jabs).
On the other hand the Kansas City Chiefs were really good (evident by the fact that they were undefeated). Running back Priest Holmes was having a tremendous season that year, posting 27 rushing touchdowns and over 2,000 yards from scrimmage. Quarterback Trent Green would generate over 4,000 yards passing and Tony Gonzalez was at the peak of his Hall of Fame career.
What happened during this game was magical. Few, if any, games have yet to achieve the raw emotion that fans felt after the Bengals beat the Chiefs 24-19. Words like epic, fantastical, will never describe the feeling. It wasn't just a win either. It was a vindication of so many things and the finality of the seasons before Marvin Lewis arrived.
It wasn't just the offense, defense or the special teams. It was the combined effort of everyone. It was Rudi Johnson posting 165 yards rushing. It was Jon Kitna recording a passer rating of 102.7. It was the defense that forced Kansas City into five straight punts to open the game -- four of which were three-and-out.
But most of all, it was Peter Warrick. With 13:04 left in the fourth quarter, the Bengals were up 10-6. Kansas City punts from their own 36-yard line to Cincinnati's 32, where Warrick settled underneath the punt. After 68 yards, Warrick celebrated with an arm in the air as he approached the endzone to give Cincinnati a 17-6 lead. Now there's 6:18 left in the game and Trent Green completed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez to bring the Chiefs within one possession. On the very first play, Jon Kitna hooks up with Warrick on a 77-yard touchdown pass, giving the Bengals a 12-point lead and with only six minutes left in the game and the eventual win.
The true impact this game had on the 2003 season was minor; other games had greater impacts on their respective seasons. Other games sported bigger scores and greater performances. But Cincinnati's 24-19 win over the undefeated Chiefs will long be remembered as one of the greatest wins during the Marvin Lewis era, if not all-time, simply for the impact it had on such a larger scale with fans.