When Marvin Lewis took over as the head coach of the Bengals in 2003, many thought he was taking an impossible job. The Brown family was known for not being too open with the spending, and the Bengals hadn't been good for years.
But Lewis took over and slowly made things better. Last week, the Bengals locked up their fourth playoff berth under the former Baltimore defensive coordinator, and the two teams will meet in the season finale in Cincinnati this Sunday.
Lewis was the Ravens' defensive coordinator during their Super Bowl season in 2000, but he still needed three years before landing his first NFL head coaching job. He's done a great job with Cincinnati, changing things there and making the Bengals a tough team in most of his 10-year run there.
The Bengals will be in the playoffs but can't pass the Ravens for the AFC North division title.
So they'll go in as a wild card team, and Lewis said earlier this week that his next goal is to win a playoff game, something the Bengals haven't done under him yet.
“You do this in order to win a championship. You can’t win a championship until you win a playoff game," Lewis said when talking with Cincinnati reporters earlier this week. "So that’s important. Now we’re in the [playoffs], and we’ve got to go from there. That was a different locker room [Sunday] – it wasn’t a locker room that was giddy about anything. They know the work is ahead. Step one, done. We don’t quite get the step two that we hoped to have [division title], but we’re at [steps] 2A and 3, and that’s more important.”
The AFC appears wide open in the playoff this year, meaning the Ravens, Bengals and just about anyone else has a chance to make some noise. Lewis should have a shot to win that first playoff game.