If you watched last night’s primetime AFC Wild Card match-up between AFC North rivals Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, you witnessed one of the biggest two-minute meltdowns in the history of professional football.
The game, in general, was ugly on both sides: unnecessary, bone-headed personal foul calls being made left and right on both teams. Senseless mental errors, and poor judgement. But things went especially awry for Cincinnati on the final drive of the game.
They held a 16-15 lead with just under two minutes left. All they needed to do was keep Ben Roethlisberger (who had already missed the previous couple of drives with a right shoulder injury) from driving his team down inside field goal range. On a play over the middle, LB Vontaze Burfict laid a helmet-to-helmet hit on Antonio Brown that drew a 15-yard penalty. Adam Jones was then subsequently flagged another 15-yards for an unsportsmanlike call, as well. This put Pittsburgh in field goal range, allowing kicker Chris Boswell to kick the chip-shot, game-winning field goal from 35 yards out.
While the Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t innocent in all of this one bit––LB Ryan Shazier laid a helmet-to-helmet hit on RB Giovani Bernard earlier in the game that knocked him out, and he should’ve been flagged for it––there was absolutely no excuse for Cincinnati’s behavior on that final drive.
It was boneheaded, selfish football, which cost Cincinnati the game and made way for Cincy’s record-tying eighth straight postseason loss.
But that begs the question (bear with me here, I’ll explain): should Marvin Lewis be fired?
This gives him a career 0-7 record in the postseason, and he completely failed to get his players in check in the final quarter of play. After that interception by Burfict (which, at the time, appeared to seal the CIN victory before Jeremy Hill fumbled the ball away), he and a few Bengals defenders, including Jones, ran ALL the way down the field, through the tunnel, and into the locker room.
Completely uncalled for, especially given they hadn’t completely sealed the victory yet.
If I’m Marvin Lewis, I’m giving Burfict a lecture after that move. Why? Why would you pull something like that? I understand these guys are playing with plenty of emotions, especially in this particular battle. But there was absolutely no reason to run all the way to the locker room like that.
Should Marvin Lewis still have a job after the fourth quarter meltdown?
While I don’t believe he should be fully responsible for his players’ emotions getting the best of them (most of the time, head coaches do), it’s no secret that Lewis has failed to get the job done in the postseason. Lewis has been a great regular season head coach (112-94-2), leading the Bengals to the postseason seven times in his 13 years with the Bengals, which includes five straight playoff appearances. But an 0-7 postseason record isn’t bringing results.
Hell, even Tom Coughlin’s days in New York are done after 12 seasons, and he brought eight playoff victories and two Super Bowl championships to the Giants.
So, yes, it’s time to cut ties with Lewis. Especially given that the franchise may end up losing a few coordinators this off-season. Andy Dalton still has his best football in front of him, and they have an incredibly talented roster. Why not give another guy a shot at bringing Cincinnati a playoff victory?
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