With less than two minutes to go in Saturday’s AFC Wild Card game, the Cincinnati Bengals had possession of the ball, led the Pittsburgh Steelers by a point and were in prime position to win their first playoff game since 1990.
Instead, they lost 18-16, this after Jeremy Hill fumbled and Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones had two of the worst penalties you’ll ever see in playoff football.
Marvin Lewis is now 0-7 in playoff games, and the Bengals have been held to 17 points or fewer all seven times,
Is it time for Lewis to go, especially given the indiscretions of his players late in the game?
“Truly, it does go back and fall on the shoulders of the head coach,” CBS Sports NFL analyst Steve Beuerlein said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “If your team does not respond under pressure the way that they are supposed to with poise and with discipline, it has to fall back on the head coach. I’m a Marvin Lewis fan. I think we’re hearing a lot of these people talking and calling for his head. I think it’s a little bit of an overreaction. You talk about a coach that did a really good job all year with this team. He lost his starting quarterback late in the season and they still found a way to keep some rhythm going and give themselves a chance to win that ball game, had it not been for a couple of veteran players with a history of losing their composure and not being really reliable in those kind of situations – guys that have had issues in the past, so to speak. Even though I say it goes back on the head coach, it really is on the veteran players to keep their composure. They’ve got to act like they’ve bene there before. I feel really bad that Marvin Lewis is getting the brunt of the criticism for this, but again, he has been there a long time and they’ve never won a playoff game. So there is something to be said for that as well.”
Still, what should be done with Burfict and Jones? They are elite talents, yes, but are they worth the trouble?
“It’s so hard to say what you (should) do when you’re not seeing these guys day in and day out,” Beuerlein said. “I know that Adam Jones doesn’t want to be known as the Pacman anymore. He’s done a great job the last few years of kind of reestablishing himself as a top-notch player, not a guy who’s getting more attention for his off-the-field indiscretions and bad decisions. I know that was important to him to try and resurrect his career and he’s done a pretty good job of it. but he lost his composure there at the end of the game and doubled up that penalty with Burfict. And (Burfict) is a guy that is a tremendous talent, but he’s always been very volatile and hard to predict. That hit (on Antonio Brown) was definitely by the rules. It was a hit that needed to be penalized. Do you release him and cut him from the team because of that? I don’t know. That’s a very, very difficult situation to be in. I’m glad I don’t have to make that decision.”