Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who led the Bengals to the AFC North title with a 10-6 record just a year after going 4-11-1, has been named the Associated Press Coach of the Year.

Lewis not only won the division, but he did so despite the deaths of wide receiver Chris Henry and Vikki Zimmer, the wife of defensive coordinator Dick Zimmer. Several players' families were also directly affected by the tsunami in the Samoan Islands.

Lewis received 20 1/2 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 sportswriters and broadcasters. Saints coach Sean Payton received 11 1/2 votes, Norv Turner of San Diego received nine, and Jim Caldwell of the Colts received seven. Andy Reid of the Eagles and Ken Whisenhunt of the Cardinals each got one vote.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

(Full disclosure: I am on the panel, and my vote went to Payton, who I felt had a transcendent season with a Saints team that missed the playoffs last year. Lewis was my second choice.) 

"I'm flattered," said Lewis, whose seventh season as Bengals coach ended with a 24-14 home loss to the Jets in the wild-card round. "I never took any credibility to it, that it could occur, but I am flattered. I would trade it to still be playing."