The Bengals gave Thursday's game ball to head coach Marvin Lewis after beating the Browns 31-10 at home in Cincinnati. They stood together while saluting Lewis’ longevity and his success.
It was Lewis' 200th regular-season game as head coach and the 100th at Paul Brown Stadium. He has piloted the Bengals to an 8-0 start, the best in franchise history. If they keep it up, Lewis will be in line for his second coach of the year award.
“It’s not me. It’s a great job by the team. I’m proud of them," Lewis said. “We know how tough and physical this division is, and I’ve been in it for a long time. It’s a great accomplishment for our guys.”
Cincinnati has been a front runner in more ways than one.
The Bengals took a 7-0 lead against Cleveland with the first of three touchdowns to tight end Tyler Eifert. It was the fifth time this season that they scored on their first offensive possession.
Lewis said that's a big key to success in the NFL.
“I do think its great to play with the lead. We’ve done that for a lot of the season," said the coach. "You play with a lead, and long fields, which is good."
He said it's akin to peering from across the table and into the hand of a poker player.
"It makes the job easier for play-callers to understand. We’re able to get the attention of the guys defensively on the sideline, and what situation is coming and how it could unfold," Lewis said.
Having linebacker Vontaze Burfict back in the lineup after a year's absence is a bonus.
“I think he brings a lot of spark to it. There’s a bit of a rotation now also," Lewis said. "Guys aren’t getting as extended. We have guys coming in and out, and that’s good. (Emmanuel) Lamur is spotting playing, and Vontaze is taking more reps, so it helps with our depth.”