Earlier, we started a countdown on the tope Marvin Lewis wins over the Cleveland Browns. The decision to count these down obviously coincides with the Bengals facing off against Cleveland this weekend. We now conclude the list with the best of the best.
No.5: The Shockingly-Close Battle in 2005: The Bengals had arrived in '05 (you like that rhyme?) and faced off against Cleveland in Week 14 as they charged towards a division title. On their way to what would be an 11-5 finish, the Bengals hit a speed bump while playing host to the Browns. A back-and-forth ensued with four combined field goals, thanks to an awful 97-yard passing day from Carson Palmer. A tie game with around four minutes to play, the Bengals plodded their way down the field and won the game with one second left on the clock thanks to a Shayne Graham field goal. It was a surprisingly close game, given the direction of both teams at the time.
No.4: The Most Meaningful Meaningless Game of 2008: If there are two seasons that Bengals fans wish didn't happen, it has to be both 2008 and 2010. The 4-11-1 debacle of 2008 was one to forget, however the end of the season built momentum for a really fun 2009 season. After not getting a win until Week 9, the Bengals finished the year with three consecutive wins. It not only built momentum going forward, but also proved that the team could win without some of their biggest stars. A 14-0 yawn-fest built momentum going forward and was a foundation-builder for Marvin Lewis and Co.
No.3: Completing The AFC North Sweep In 2009: The Bengals went an improbable 6-0 in the AFC North and went on to a 10-6 finish in 2009. They couldn't complete the sweep without a victory against Cleveland though, and they faced a toughy in Week 12. Even though the Browns were 1-10, they proved to continue to be a pesky matchup. Carson Palmer destroyed the Browns for 110 yards (sarcasm), only to be outdone by Brady Quinn's 100 yards passing (sarcasm again). The Bengals rode to a 16-7 victory which marked them going undefeated against the formidable AFC North.
No.2: The "Did He Really Make That Field Goal" Game Of 2009: "The Cardiac Cats" were in full force in 2009 because of a number of last minute victories--particularly against division foes. Coming off of an emotional last-second win against the Steelers, Cincinnati traveled to Cleveland as a game sandwiched between the Pittsburgh matchup and a road game against the Ravens. Nevertheless, it was a battle of the ages that led to an overtime finish. The Bengals won their second of three consecutive nail-biters against the division, thanks to a Shayne Graham field goal in sudden death. But did he make it? Graham put plenty of leg into the kick but it seemed to have gone directly over the posts, leading to protests from the Browns staff. Regardless, the Bengals shot off to a 3-1 start after this one.
No.1: The Shootout At The PBS Corral: In 2004, the Bengals were on the verge of becoming a playoff team. With young gun Carson Palmer in his first season as a starter, Cincinnati was sniffing at the playoffs. Without Mike Zimmer heading the defense, however, the Bengals defense wasn't one of the better units in the league. In Week 12 shortly after Thanksgiving, the Bengals and Browns faced off and had a ridiculous face-off at Paul Brown Stadium. Both teams combined for almost 1,000 yards of offense to a 58-48 win for the Bengals. Nursing a three-point lead late in the game, tension was high because of both teams ' ability to move the ball at will all day. Wouldn't you know it? The game ended with a defensive play, thanks to a Deltha O'Neal interception return for a touchdown which sealed the victory in one of the craziest games in recent memory.