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The Bengals launched a new era on Jan. 14, when Marvin Lewis was hired as the ninth head coach in franchise history. "We've turned over a new leaf," said Bengals president Mike Brown, and the Bengals have had no other coach since. Lewis has become the franchise's all-time leader in tenure (15 seasons through 2017) and wins (125). At the time of his hiring, Lewis was the eighth African-American to be named an NFL head coach. Architect of the Baltimore Ravens' record-setting Super Bowl defense in 2000, Lewis received a broad mandate from Bengals ownership to implement his program, and the team finished 8-8, six games better than the 2-14 Bengals of 2002. Though the Bengals missed the playoffs — eliminated on the final weekend of the season — their six-game improvement was the biggest of any NFL team from '02 to '03. It was also the second-biggest one-year improvement in Bengals history. Lewis finished second to Bill Belichick, coach of the World Champion New England Patriots, in Associated Press voting for NFL Coach of the Year. The season included the four largest pro sports crowds in Cincinnati history (to that time), topped by 65,362 on Dec. 28 vs. Cleveland, and the highlight game was a 24-19 win on Nov. 16 over an unbeaten (9-0) Kansas City team. The Chiefs game started what would be a Bengals-record streak of 57 consecutive home sellouts in regular season and postseason. WR Chad Johnson, who led the AFC with 1355 receiving yards, signed a five-year contract extension in November. Prior to the season, the Bengals had the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft for the third time in team history, and the club chose Southern California QB Carson Palmer. Palmer was signed on April 24, just before the actual draft, as the Bengals took the option to execute an early signing. Palmer did not play as a rookie, as veteran Jon Kitna was the only NFL QB to play every offensive snap for his team, but Palmer would go on to set numerous Bengals passing records, beginning his playing career in 2004. QB Akili Smith, an unsuccessful first-round QB choice in 1999, was released on June 2. In an ironic twist for longtime Bengals followers, the club prior to the season hired Ricky Hunley as LBs coach. Hunley was a Bengals first-round draft choice as a player (LB) in 1984, but he never signed with Cincinnati, staging the longest holdout in franchise history before being traded to Denver on Oct. 9, 1984.

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League Rankings

Table inside Article
OFFENSE 13 (333.1) 13 (124.2) 12 (208.9)
DEFENSE 28 (351.3) 25 (tied) (138.6) 24 (212.6)
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Year Totals

Table inside Article
OFFENSE 1038 313 1987 3342 5329 346
DEFENSE 999 320 2218 3402 5620 384
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Individual Leaders

Table inside Article
Shayne Graham Scoring
Jon Kitna Passing
Rudi Johnson Rushing
Chad Johnson Receptions
Chad Johnson Receiving Yards
Kyle Richardson Punting
Peter Warrick Punt Returns
Brandon Bennett Kickoff Returns
Shayne Graham Field Goals
Tory James Interceptions
Duane Clemons, John Thornton Sacks
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Coaching Staff

Table inside Article
Marvin Lewis Head Coach
Paul Alexander Assistant Head Coach / Offensive Line
Jim Anderson Running Backs
Bob Bratkowski Offensive Coordinator
Louie Cioffi Assistant Defensive Backs
Kevin Coyle Defensive Backs
Leslie Frazier Defensive Coordinator
Jay Hayes Defensive Line
Jonathan Hayes Tight Ends
Ricky Hunley Linebackers
Chip Morton Strength and Conditioning
Kurtis Shultz Assistant Strength and Conditioning
Darrin Simmons Special Teams
Bob Surace Offensive Assistant
Alex Wood Wide Receivers
Ken Zampese Quarterbacks
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2003 NFL Draft: April 26 - 27

Table inside Article
1 Carson Palmer QB Southern California 1
2 Eric Steinbach G Iowa 33
3 Kelley Washington WR Tennessee 65
4a Dennis Weathersby CB Oregon State 98
4b Jeremi Johnson (acquired from New Orleans in trade on 8-31-02) FB Western Kentucky 118
5 Khalid Abdullah OLB Mars Hill 136
6 Langston Moore DT South Carolina 174
7a Scott Kooistra OT North Carolina State 215
7b Elton Patterson DE Central Florida *259

*NOTE: The Bengals received one compensatory pick (No. 259).

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Pro Bowl

Players selected for the 2003 Pro Bowl: OT Willie Anderson, WR Chad Johnson

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