Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is used to generations of running backs who from time to time weren't happy with their number of carries.
After all, his first one was the franchise's all-time leading rusher in Corey Dillon. Then there was Rudi Johnson, who served two years as his understudy before replacing Dillon and broke his season rushing mark. Then came Cedric Benson, a former top five pick who revived his career in Cincinnati.
But one not as young as the 21-year-old Joe Mixon, who only went six games before wondering aloud after Sunday's 29-14 loss in Pittsburgh what exactly his role is after he failed to carry the ball for game's final 38 minutes after his seven carries for 48 yards were a big reason they were tied at 14.
On Monday Lewis made it known he wasn't pleased with the rookie publicly airing his frustration.
"You should show maturity just like everybody else. Everybody wants to be out there all the time," Lewis said. "But we're not going to create a run when we are down by 12 or 15 (points). We're not going to create it. I saw a ball go on the ground when he received two balls thrown to him, which are the same situation. We got to handle it all the time the correct way, and be strong enough to not be led into questions after the game, which unfortunately he doesn't know enough about."
Mixon didn't need any help with the questions because everyone in Bengaldom had the same one after it looked like he was going to be just the third Bengals back to get a 100-yard game against the Steelers in 12 years. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor figures he has anywhere between two to five skill players mad at him after every game.
"When you have a 51-play game, no one gets it enough. And there were a couple plays we chose to put someone else in for particular things and it had nothing to do with Joe, it worked out that way," Lazor said. "And then we get to that point in the game where it's a passing game to try to catch up to win the game."
Vontaze Burfict won't be fined.
That was just one of the topics waiting for Lewis when he got back to his desk Monday after one of the more ugly losses in his 15 seasons. The offense had its fewest yards (179) in three years, while the NFL's No. 2 defense faltered and gave up 420 yards, and they're 2.5 games behind the Steelers in the first six games.
_-A curious report out of Pittsburgh characterized the Bengals' post-game locker room as "jovial," with the suggestion they don't care. Lewis defended his team.
"I'm not even going to dignify that any further. I wouldn't have known anything about it if (the media relations staff) hadn't briefed me," Lewis said. "I think some players handle different situations differently, unfortunately. I can generally point them out. Sometimes it's a defense mechanism. With some people, it's their actions, how they talk, or whatever it may be. But, again, as I said, let's stop and start there."
-Even as Lewis met the media Monday afternoon, word surfaced that linebacker Vontaze Burfict won't be suspended for a play early in the game but the process is underway to see if he'll be fined. The Steelers insisted he kicked fullback Roosevelt Nix in the helmet as they unpiled after the second play of the game. But some Bengals thought Burfict was getting Nix off him after Nix jumped on him after the play.
"It's generally overblown," Lewis said when asked if it was overblown. "The player pushes Vontaze back after the play. The official was right there and warned No. 45 (Nix) to not do that. So, I don't know … You can't react. Everybody on the football team knows you can't react."
-It sounded like he wasn't happy, either, that Andy Dalton threw the ball away on fourth down with three minutes left in the game just like he did against Baltimore in the opener.
"We discussed with the other parties on the field," Lewis said. "We all have to do better. We have to give Andy an option."
-What exactly are Dalton's options besides A.J. Green with Tyler Eifert on IR, John Ross an unknown, and Cody Core and Josh Malone combining for a handful of mere targets?
"They have to keep emerging. We have to connect with them, and when we do that, things will be fine," Lewis said. "Brandon LaFell did a nice job yesterday, had a few opportunities. Tyler Kroft has taken advantage of the opportunities. Alex Erickson had a great third down conversion in the middle of the field. All those things have to happen to keep us going."
Cincinnati Bengals travel to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 7 of the regular season.