Bengals' Lewis: Burfict, Jones both 'heartbroken'
The Cincinnati Bengals are still picking up the pieces from Saturday night's crushing loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Head coach Marvin Lewis said the two biggest culprits are still feeling the pain.
Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones may have been just as emotional after the game as they were late in the fourth quarter, based on what Lewis said in his end-of-season news conference Monday.
"Both players couldn’t be more heartbroken, literally to tears. Both of them. That’s the first step; to realize ‘I’m wrong.’ When you play linebacker and safety, you’re at the tip of the spear in the NFL now ... It’s a violent, physical football game, and we have to continue to do it the right way."
Lewis applauded the duo for making plays that helped the Bengals overcome a 15-0 deficit, and hopes the entire team learns from the experience of squandering a game with such terrible miscues.
"Some of the players that made fantastic plays to put us back in control, unfortunately got involved in plays where we lost the cool and focus that we had for the first 58 minutes of the ball game. It affected the outcome, and it’s too bad.
"We have to continue to work hard and win with class in everything we do, to represent themselves and us all the time in the correct way. They’re coached to do it within the scope of the rules all the time. We have to play the game as if the other team and the officials don’t exist. That’s not part of what we can control. We have to control us."
While Lewis refused to specify how he'll change his approach when it comes to controlling his players, defensive tackle Domata Peko said Lewis made it known earlier Monday that things will be different next season, per Bengals.com.
"Coach has already said that moving forward here we’re not going to do things that way. If anybody is having any arguments with referees he’s going to get you out of there. Moving forward we’re going to make that change, and it’s a good change."
When asked if Burfict was being unfailrly villified, Lewis acknowledged that some reputations have been earned, and the the linebacker needs to do a better job playing within the rules, rules that have been tightened over the years to protect defenseless receivers.
"It didn’t go over the edge. But unfortunately, he can’t have that kind of blow with the guy that’s receiving the pass. [The call] was part of what football is now. You have to learn to play within the scope of what football is right now. When receiving the football, those guys are being protected."
Of course, none of the fiasco would have transpired if running back Jeremy Hill didn't give the ball away in the closing minutes, a fact not lost on Lewis.
"He’s going to have a lot of opportunities to win football games for us in the future. He’s reminded, above all things; hold onto the football. Squeeze the ball and get us to the next down. We probably aren’t having these other conversations if we do that. Its a shame."