The Cincinnati Bengals are out of the playoffs again, and this time, there are rumors that the heartbreaking end to the season could cost Marvin Lewis his job.
The Bengals have been on a long playoff slump, and extended it even further with a last-minute loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday. The Bengals stormed back from a 15-0 fourth quarter deficit to take a late lead, and then got the ball back on an interception with just over a minute remaining. One first down was all they needed to run out the clock and get the first playoff win for Marvin Lewis in his career.
That’s when the wheels fell off. Jeremy Hill fumbled, and on the Steelers drive, the Bengals handed their opponent a free 30 yards in the form of back-to-back personal fouls, first on Vontaze Burfict for hitting the defenseless Antonio Brown on an uncatchable pass, and then on Pacman Jones for getting into a scuffle with Steelers players and coach Joey Porter.
The Steelers kicked a field goal to take the unlikely 18-16 win, and the rumors started flying that coach Marvin Lewis could be out of a job. While he has turned the Bengals into perennial contenders, Lewis is now 0-7 in the playoffs.
Many have called out Marvin Lewis for losing control of his team, and for an extended lack of control over the likes of Burfict and Jones, who are continually in trouble.
As Bleacher Report noted, the rumors point toward the Cincinnati Bengals cutting Marvin Lewis loose.
“This is where things get interesting for Lewis and the Bengals. Does Lewis want hothead dopes on his team like Burfict and Jones? Or are they forced on him? Or is there some blend of the two? In some ways, it’s almost irrelevant. Lewis will take the blame.
“It’s difficult to imagine even the conservative Bengals ownership keeping Lewis. Something like this simply cannot go without serious repercussions.”
The game was ugly on both sides. Before the craziness of the final drive, Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier knocked out Bengals running back Gio Bernard on a clearly illegal hit that wasn’t flagged, and Steelers players then celebrated. Later, when Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was carted to the locker room with an injured shoulder, Bengals fans showered him with garbage.
Marvin Lewis: They flagged Burfict’s hit to the head, but not others https://t.co/R37zLCCNS2
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 10, 2016
FTW: Blame Marvin Lewis for Bengals’ wild-card meltdown https://t.co/Rt0JzE3Gbf
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) January 10, 2016
But with fingers pointed in all directions, most are looking directly at Marvin Lewis for his role in failing to keep players in line. USA Today columnist Chris Chase said despite his winning track record and good reputation, Lewis needs to take the fall for the loss.
“And now the 25-year playoff losing streak continues in Cincinnati and the man at the helm has to be to blame. Again, Burfict and Jones are the selfish children whose actions lost the game, but Marvin Lewis — a fine coach and a fine man — is the father figure who needed to make sure it didn’t happen. When you’ve lost control of your team, you’ve lost your team. Usually, your job comes next.”
If the rumors are true, the Cincinnati Bengals will be behind the ball in finding a new coach. This has been a very busy offseason with a number of firings, and some of the top candidates are already off the board. Chicago Bears assistant coach Adam Gase, who was the top pick of several teams, has already signed a deal with the Miami Dolphins. But the Bengals could be an attractive opening, a playoff-ready team with a good quarterback and a solid, if a bit undisciplined, defense.
[Photo by Joe Robins/Getty Images]