Skip to main content

In the wake . . .


Less than 24 hours after Jeremy Hill's big fumble, Adrian Peterson matched it.

In the wake of the 18-16 loss to the Steelers in a wild west of a Wild Card Game Saturday night, a few leftovers:

You hope Bengals running back Jeremy Hill watched Sunday's NFC Wild Card Game in Minnesota, where Vikings future Hall-of-Fame running back Adrian Peterson's fumbled the ball that turned into the winning points for Seattle in a 10-9 game.

Not only that, but Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard chippy field goal with 20 seconds left that would have won it for the Vikes after head coach Mike Zimmer carefully milked the clock down to his last timeout.

So it happens. Even the great ones screw up. After the Bengals lost Saturday night to the Steelers in an AFC Wild Card Game, 18-16, left tackle Andrew Whitworth defended the decision to run the ball from the Steelers 26 on first down with 1:36 left and leading, 16-15. Instead of taking three knees to force Pittsburgh to use all its timeouts and then kick a field goal.

Taking a knee three times would have meant a loss of six yards, making it a 50-yard field goal and still leaving the Steelers with about 1:10 left. They ran it on first down for six yards and Hill fumbled, igniting the Steelers' victory.

 "You get a first down, the game is over," Whitworth said. "They don't get a chance to get the ball back. It's a routine play. You just don't expect to have a fumble on that. The guy (linebacker Ryan Shazier) did an unbelievable job getting the ball out."

With reports out there that WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict is facing a suspension for his repeat 15-yard offenses, the Bengals are furious about how the officials in the last two games have let  Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter roam all over the field trash talking just like in his playing days in a blatant  violation of the rules. While cornerback Adam Jones lost his cool, they believe he was provoked by a guy that had no right to be on the field and that there should have been offsetting penalties. Burfict and Jones got hit with 15-yard penalties after the Steelers' last play to set up the winning field goal.  

Some Bengals weren't happy about a helmet-to-helmet call on Bengals safety Shawn Williams in which he appeared to use his shoulder. Or that they didn't call a shot to the head on Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier's crown-of-the-helmet hit on running back Giovani Bernard that sent him to concussion protocol for the game.

That was a huge miss because it would have put the Bengals inside the 10 late in the third quarter, down 15-0. And, who knows? Maybe Bernard would have had Hill's carry.

But the Bengals realized they blew their cool for the second straight game against Pittsburgh. Whitworth and Carlos Dunlap were two of the more eloquent voices in locker room Saturday night upset with the lack of poise. Particularly since Lewis pounded the theme all week, even recycling a Paul Brown quote about poise under stress. Instead, for the last day local and national are questioning his control of the team.

Neither Whitworth nor Dunlap called out Burfict and Jones. But there was the hope the group can play with more poise.

"Integrity, character, and who you are as a man is more important than who you are as a football player," Whitworth said. "I think in the face of a loss you have to man up and walk out there and take what they give you."

After Burfict was called for hitting Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in the head with 18 seconds left to give the Steelers life, Dunlap said he loves Burfict's edge.

"I'm not going to take that edge from him. I want him to play like that," Dunlap said. "We have to be smart with it. That's a continuation play. It could have gone either way. But at the end of the day it didn't go our way."

Whitworth didn't want to blame one guy

"It's not about one guy's mistake," he said. "It's about the team as a unit. Everyone has to understand the discipline of winning the game is more important than anything else. It always has to be No. 1. When you get those priorities out of control, that's when things happen."

Or, as Dunlap said, "When something happens more than once, I feel like it's a habit. One of the things is don't let the same mistakes happen twice. Bengals beat Bengals again."

Lewis meets the media Monday to wrap up the 2015 season and his job status for 2016 has never been in doubt since he signed a year extension earlier in the year and they got off to a club record 8-0 start.

But Monday's session is probably going to be one of his more scrutinized of his 13 seasons as he looks ahead to '16.

Ten years after he had to answer questions about Chad Johnson's implosion at halftime in a Wild Card   loss to the Steelers, he'll no doubt be asked about another bout of lack of composure that was more public. Those 15-yard flags on Burfict and Jones.

There are also indications Lewis will soon have to address the loss of offensive coordinator Hue Jackson after he interviewed Sunday with the 49ers and Browns for their head coaching jobs. And that may be as soon as Monday. It's unclear if the Bengals would go outside the staff if they have to fill the job, as they did in 2011 when they brought in Jay Gruden to replace Bob Bratkowski, or if they'll stay inside, like when they promoted Jackson from running backs coach in 2014 when Gruden went to Washington as the head coach.

Bengals secondary coach Vance Joseph is reportedly headed to Miami as defensive coordinator. A potential candidate to replace him would be Kevin Coyle, the former Dolphins defensive coordinator who was the Bengals secondary coach from 2001-11.


Cincinnati Bengals host the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium for the Wild Card playoff game 1/9/2016

Ten years ago the Bengals had to fight a hangover into the next season after a traumatic Wild** Card loss to Pittsburgh included Johnson's explosion and the injury to Carson Palmer's knee. Whitworth thinks they can combat that because they've been to the postseason five straight times.

"We came back years before," Whitworth said. "People keep calling it something bad, negative that we keep making playoffs. The truth is nobody talks about the resiliency. We lose and put our big boy pants back on, we work our butts off, and we show up back here. How many teams in this league have the ability to do that? That's a great thing."

Donald Trump may not have liked what he saw Saturday when he ripped the NFL as "soft,' according to a item. But Bengals-Steelers is the most-watched AFC Wild Card game on any network in four years.

But that didn't impress Trump. He said at a rally Sunday, "Football has become soft like our country has become soft . . . Who wants to watch these crummy games?"

PFT said Trump doesn't like the outlawing of "what used to be considered a great tackle, head-on and violent."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.