Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther spoke Monday about the team's chaotic 18-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card Round this past Saturday.
Lewis discussed the consecutive personal-foul penalties drawn by Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict and cornerback Adam Jones but implied the two recognized their faults.
"Both couldn't be more heartbroken. That's the first step; realizing I'm wrong," said Lewis of Burfict and Jones, per ESPN.com's Coley Harvey.
Jones is a free agent along with two other key members of the Bengals secondary, Leon Hall and Reggie Nelson. That's something Lewis also addressed Monday, saying, "We'll do a good job signing guys. We'll be OK that way."
But "Pacman" was provoked to a degree into his 15-yard penalty by Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter, who appeared to incite him into retaliation by coming onto the field. The sequence positioned Pittsburgh for the game-winning field goal.
All of this evidently irked Guenther to the point he felt compelled to call out Porter on Monday, per Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer:
No Christmas cards will be exchanged between #Bengals, Joey Porter. DC Paul Guenther: "Porter an embarrassment to the coaching profession."— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) January 11, 2016
"I look up near end of game and he's on the field talking to them. How does that happen? He's a coach," added Guenther, per Geoff Hobson of the Bengals' official website.
Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth wasn't thrilled with Porter either, saying, per Dehner, "Joey Porter is not one of the people I have respect for. His unprofessionalism is ridiculous."
Regardless of what transpires on the gridiron, Lewis did acknowledge the Bengals have to carry themselves better.
"The message to the players is that they are privileged to play in the National Football League, and we have to win with class," Lewis said to reporters. "We have to control us and not worry about the other team or other circumstances. We've had to reinforce that at an unfortunate moment."
Meanwhile, spats on social media continue, stemming from before Week 14's matchup between the AFC North rivals that ultimately led to a pregame scuffle. Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell poked fun at the Bengals following their heartbreaking defeat:
Bengals tryin to complain to stay in the game...shouldn't be a dirty team— Le'Veon Bell (@L_Bell26) January 10, 2016
With regard to the off-field choice words the two teams have had, Lewis, per Harvey, "regrets not understanding the nature of some of the threatening tweets directed at his players, and not taking social media more seriously" and "[seemed] annoyed [the] NFL 'turned their head' to the issue when Bengals security reached out."
Although Lewis hasn't guided Cincinnati to a postseason victory after 13 seasons as head coach, he does present stability at a key spot and has posted six winning records in the past seven years. Unfortunately, the Bengals have lost five playoff games in as many years.
An untimely injury to quarterback Andy Dalton didn't allow him to play against the Steelers. Dalton, Lewis and the rest of Cincinnati's core merit one more chance to see how far they can go in pursuit of a Super Bowl.
Of course, winning a single game in the postseason is the starting point for the Bengals in 2016. That has proved to be an elusive feat, but it's one Lewis will have to conquer with class to ensure he has job security beyond next season.