Since Marvin Lewis was hired as head coach back in 2003, divisional rivalries with the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers have really escalated for the Bengals. All three teams have put quality defenses on the field at various times, with the Ravens and Steelers fielding some of the best players at their respective positions in this era.
In what seemed like a game of one-upsmanship, Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu continuously battled for the mantle of the NFL's best safety. Reed made nine Pro Bowls in 11 seasons with Baltimore, contributing huge plays as both a centerfield-like safety and infrequent kick returner. And, as was also the case with Polamalu's 12 Steeler seasons, Reed often made the Bengals pay with his forced turnovers.
You could make the argument as to which was the better player at the position, as both are headed to the Hall of Fame in just a few years. Regardless, both of them make our AFC North villains list for some similar reasons.
Biggest AFC North villains vs Bengals in the Marvin Lewis era
There have been a number of disliked players among the Bengals' AFC North opponents during the Marvin Lewis era and we look at some of the most hated within the division in his tenure.
Biggest AFC North villains vs Bengals in Marvin Lewis era: Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs
Ravens defender Terrell Suggs has created a Hall of Fame career for himself with the Baltimore Ravens and he's wreaked his share of havoc against the Bengals. He's also been very vocal about his success in his previous 13 NFL seasons.
Why he makes the list:
Big Plays Galore: Reed made nine interceptions and four total touchdowns (three interception returns, one punt return) against the Bengals. He had the innate ability to pluck the ball out of the air and find running lanes that most other defensive backs couldn't. While he lost a couple of gambles while attempting to jump routes, he was still a major catalyst to wins against Cincinnati.
A couple of the worst memories Bengals fans have of Reed involve a big pick-six on Monday Night Football off of Andy Dalton, as well as another off of Carson Palmer in 2009. Even though the Bengals won the 2009 contest, it was indicative of what he continuously did against both signal-callers.
Ability to make a play even after getting beat: One of the things that made Reed so dangerous was his knack for never being fully out of the play. Even when Reed seemed to get beat on a play or wasn't in the televised frame, he would suddenly come to the Ravens' rescue. Even when Palmer and Dalton made hay against Baltimore and Reed, he would still wreak havoc after things seemed to be going positively.