Any time that an NFL coach has double-digit wins against a single foe, it's impressive. It's even more impressive when that foe happens to be a bitter division rival. Such is the case with Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and his 14-6 record against the Browns throughout his ten-plus year tenure in Cincinnati. While most wish that Lewis had that same 14-6 record against the Ravens and/or Steelers, he has mostly gotten the job done in "The Battle of Ohio".
In two posts, starting with this one, we will countdown the top-ten Lewis victories in this rivalry. The countdown is based on a variety of factors, ranging from "watchability", competitiveness, craziness and even dominance. Let the countdown begin!
No. 10: Lewis' First Win Against Cleveland: Though it wasn't the most exciting of games, it still was a close fought battle that led to Lewis' first win as a head coach. In Week Four of the 2003 season, the Bengals were off to a three-game losing streak, complete with heartbreaker losses to the Raiders and Steelers. In really what could be marked as starting point for the turnaround of the season and the franchise, the Bengals eked out a 21-14 win. Jon Kitna had a great day passing with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Chad Johnson was the recipient of two Kitna touchdowns and it helped to springboard him to fame.
No.9: Total Domination In 2006: The Bengals were desperately trying to hang on to a playoff spot towards the latter part of the season and needed a strong November and December to do so. The Bengals went on the road to Cleveland and blew out their division rival 30-0. Carson Palmer threw three touchdowns, while Charlie Frye threw four interceptions en route to a blowout. While this game was largely unwatchable by non-Bengals fans, it does mark the most one-sided victory by a Lewis team against the Browns.
No.8: The Week Two Shootout In 2012: The Bengals were coming off of an embarrassing loss to the Ravens on Monday Night Football and faced another tough division game in Week Two against Cleveland. In what became one of the bigger shootouts in the rivalry, the game came down to the fourth quarter because the Cincinnati defense was being shockingly carved by a couple of rookies. Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson went off, but so did Andy Dalton and his three touchdown passes. The Bengals prevailed 34-27 in a seesaw battle that ended up being a much-needed win for the orange and black.
No.7: The First Crazy One From 2011: This was the season where the Bengals were supposed to go 0-16, wasn't it? Dalton came out of the gates impressive, but had to leave after the first half because of a hand injury. Then-backup Bruce Gradkowski came in and the game went sour until the final minutes of the game. Gradkowski quick-snapped the ball on the Browns defense and hit A.J. Green for his first career catch and touchdown reception. It only brought the Bengals up by three points though and they had to hold on. Hanging onto the ball towards with under two minutes, the Bengals decided to continue to chew clock with Cedric Benson and punt, if need be. Instead, Benson charged 39 yards for the score and sealed the win--the first in this "new era of Bengals football".
No.6: "The A.J. Green Catch Game": What could also be called the "Mike Nugent MVP Game" was a nail-biter to the end. It was right around this time that Bengals fans realized that their rookies (Dalton and A.J. Green) were pretty good and able to win a lot of games. The home game against the reeling Browns was supposed to be a nice relief from a handful of daunting games, but it was far from a cakewalk. After going toe-to-toe all day, the Bengals had the ball and faced a 20-20 tie with under two minutes to play. On third and eight, Dalton hit Green for a miraculous 51-yard catch-and-run that set up the winning Nugent field goal. Cincinnati prevailed
Checkout the top-five in a post a little later!