When it comes to Marvin Lewis, feelings amongst Bengals fans are very mixed. Most everyone is grateful for the team’s resurgence under his watch, but the 0-7 postseason mark stands out to the general NFL crowd.
Still, some of the best team and individual performances have occurred under his watch. In 15 seasons as the Cincinnati’s head coach, there have basically been two or three incarnations of the Bengals’ roster with Lewis at the helm and each “generation”, as it were, has its accolades.
Here are some of the biggest accolades the team and its players have achieved under Lewis.
Rudi Johnson sets the Bengals’ single-season rushing record—twice: In 2003, some big changes were occurring in Cincinnati. Lewis had the Bengals close to their first playoff berth since 1990 and the team was far more competitive than it had been from 1991-2002.
There was also a changing of the guard at running back that season, with Johnson stepping in for Corey Dillon. After the team shipped Dillon to New England, Johnson etched his name in the team record books with 1,454 rushing yards in 2004 and the still-standing record of 1,458 yards in 2005.
Carson Palmer sets multiple single-season passing marks: Up until he left Cincinnati, the former No. 1 overall pick held the top three single-season passing yard marks in franchise history. His top performance in this category was in 2007, when he threw for 4,151 yards.
His 4,036 yards in 2006 was his second-highest mark, while his 3,970 in 2010 was third in team history. Oddly enough, the Bengals finished a combined 19-29 combined in those three seasons.
Andy Dalton de-thrones Palmer as the single-season stat king: Many were skeptical about Dalton coming in and being productive on the heels of Palmer’s quitting on the Bengals, but he proved many wrong. Dalton passed Palmer for the two top single-season passing yardage marks in team history.
In 2013, Dalton threw a franchise-record 4,293 yards, along with 33 touchdowns—also a team record. Then three seasons later, Dalton had 4,206 yards to his name, which is good for second-best all-time in Cincinnati annals.
Brandon Tate becomes the all-time team leader in punt return yardage: The guy everybody loved to hate did make his mark in the Bengals’ record books. Though he was more steady than flash on returns, Tate’s 1,411 punt return yards is tops in team history.
Also, his 4,928 total return yards (second in team history in kickoff return yardage with 3,517) are tops in team history. Yes, most folks wanted more big plays from No. 19, but it’s still a pretty impressive number—especially with Adam Jones getting opportunities from time to time.
Chad Johnson, the single-season king: Coinciding with some of Palmer’s best pro seasons were some of the same from Johnson. No. 85 initially set the franchise-best mark in receiving yards back in 2003 with 1,355, only to break it two years later with 1,432 in that magical 2005 campaign.
However, his 1,440 in 2007 still stands as the best in team history for a receiver in one season. A.J. Green came awfully close to breaking Johnson’s records in 2013 with 1,426 yards, but fell just short. Green (three) and Johnson (five) own the top eight single-season receiving yardage numbers in team history.
Chad “Ochocinco”, the franchise stat-leader: Whether you like to refer to him as Johnson or Ochocinco, the enigmatic receiver owns every major Bengals receiving statistical record. He’s the kind of yards with 10,783, touchdowns with 66 and receptions with 751.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s insane 2008 reception mark: Because of an injury to Johnson and in spite of one to Palmer, “Housh” set a great franchise record in an otherwise miserable season. With Ryan Fitzpatrick largely at the helm, Houshmandzadeh reeled in 112 catches back in 2008, besting Carl Pickens’ old mark by 12 receptions.
Carlos Dunlap’s pair of franchise crowns: The veteran defensive end has been a pinnacle of consistency with the Bengals, averaging over eight sacks per year over eight accrued NFL seasons. In 2015, Dunlap set the team’s single-season sack mark with 13.5, en route to a Pro Bowl berth.
Depending on who you’re asking, Dunlap also technically holds the team’s career sack mark at 64.5. However, since it wasn’t a counted statistic for a number of years, many still say Eddie Edwards is the career leader in the category.
The whipping boys in the kicking game: When Lewis took over the Bengals he had a few initial critical goals, in terms of solidifying positions. One was at quarterback, obviously, and another was at kicker.
After a tumultuous few years following Doug Pelfrey’s 2000 exit, the team needed stability on special teams. Despite your thoughts on Shayne Graham and/or Mike Nugent, they remain the two top kickers in franchise history.
Graham’s 2007 campaign was one for the ages, as he not only set a record with 31 made field goals, but also had the highest percentage of field goal conversions at 91.2% (not counting the combined 13 attempts from Josh Brown in 2012 and Dave Rayner in 2008). Nugent didn’t best Graham’s percentage mark, but hit 33 times in 2011 to re-write the books in that regard.
Nugent also has the top amount of points in franchise history with 132 in 2011, with Graham right behind him at 131 back in 2005.
Marvin Lewis: Whatever your take is on the veteran coach, he has become the winningest coach in team history. His 125 wins and .527 career winning percentage are tops in franchise history.
8-0: Despite the ugly ending to the 2015 season, the team’s 8-0 start was the best in history. They beat out arguably the best team ever fielded in Cincinnati in Sam Wyche’s 1988 Bengals team, who shot off to a 6-0 start that year, en route to a Super Bowl appearance.
12 wins in 2015: In competing with the 1988 squad once again, the 2015 Bengals team really gave them a run for their money. Even though they lost in the opening round of the postseason, Cincinnati tied the franchise-best mark in regular season wins with a dozen.