After being losing in their next two games on the road Coach Bruce Coslet calls it quits, Dick LeBeau took over the team. Under LeBeau, the Bengals kept losing dropping their first three games under their new coach. It does not look too good for that coach!
The Bengals misfortunes finally ended on October 22 2000. The Bengals would stun the Broncos 31-21 as RB Corey Dillon set a single game record by rushing for 278 yards. The Bengals would use it as springboard to win their next game in Cleveland despite not scoring a TD. The Bengals offense would continue to struggle as QB Akili Smith was stressed out by the NFL game. Corey Dillon would go on to set a team record by rushing for 1,435 yards, but with Smith's struggles at QB the Bengals finished with a terrible 4-12 record.
The Bengals in 2001 put aside their plans for Akili Smith, by acquiring John Kitna from the Seattle Seahawks. The Bengals would win their first two games with Kitna behind center, and sat at 4-3 through the first seven games of the season. The Bengals would struggle again losing their next 7 games as QB John Kitna struggle with interceptions throwing 22 while only connecting on 12 TD passes.
The Bengals would win their final two games to close the season with a 6-10 record for their 11 straight seasons with out a winning record. Despite the hardships, RB Corey Dillon had another stellar year rushing for 1,315 yards.
The Bengals in 2002 keep fighting as they dropped their first seven games losing by average of 19 points in each game. The Bengals would take out all their frustrations in Week 8 by slaughtering the expansion Houston Texans on the road 38-38. However, the good feeling in the win would not last long as the Bengals continued to be the laughing stock of the NFL losing their next six games to fall to 1-13.
The Marvin Lewis era in 2003, got off to a sluggish start as they dropped there first three games. With the exception of their first game against the Denver Broncos, the Bengals were competitive all the way in losing to reigning AFC Division winners.
The Bengals 2004 began to focus on the future as the traded Corey Dillon to the New England Patriots clearing the way for Rudi Johnson to start at RB, while giving Carson Palmer the starting job at QB. Palmer and the young Bengals would struggle early, losing five of their first seven games. As the season, progressed Palmer grew at ease on the field the Bengals began to win as they climbed back to .500 at 6-6, before a sprained knee sent Palmer to the sidelines in a hard fought 35-28 road loss to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Patriots. The with wins in their final 2 games the Bengals would finish 8-8 for the second year in a row as Rudi Johnson finished 6th in the NFL in rushing with 1,454 yards, giving Bengals fans hope for the future.
Now in 2005, the Bengals will finally end 15 years of frustration and losing and put together a winning season as they have a solid defense a good running game and a solid young QB. The AFC is harsh and it will not be enough to bring them to the playoffs as they fall a tad short.