CINCINNATI – It'll be known around these parts as "The Meltdown."
With a chance to finally end their playoff futility, the Bengals let it all slip away.
A fumble, a defensive lapse, and two ugly penalties set up Pittsburgh's winning field goal for an 18-16 victory on Saturday night.
Linebacker Vontaze Burfict and cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones — players with a history of getting out of control — drew personal fouls that moved the Steelers in range for the winning kick.
"This was a disgraceful performance by the Cincinnati Bengals," said CBS analyst Boomer Esiason, the quarterback of Cincinnati's 1988 Super Bowl team.
"An ugly performance by one Vontaze Burfict, who should not only be fined, but suspended for a significant amount of time. The guy is a danger on the field to opposing football players.
"I'm a former Bengal and I'm embarrassed by the way this game ended and by the way these guys acted on the field. I feel bad for [coach] Marvin Lewis.
"And I'll tell you one thing, if Marvin Lewis can't control his players, maybe Marvin Lewis shouldn't be standing there on the sidelines coaching."
Lewis fell to 0-7 in the playoffs as a head coach. His teams have dropped opening-round games in five consecutive seasons, another NFL record — no team has done it more than three teams. The Bengals haven't won a playoff game in 25 years, the sixth-longest streak in league history.
The player who made the most egregious mistake — Burfict, who put a shoulder to the head of defenseless receiver Antonio Brown — has been one of Lewis' projects.
The Bengals signed him after every team passed on him in the 2012 draft after he repeatedly lost his composure and cost his team with personal fouls at Arizona State. He's one of the NFL's best middle linebackers, a game-changer with his speed and toughness. He's also one of its most penalized players.
Jones, who also has a history of losing his cool, then got a penalty for bumping a referee while trying to get at Steelers coach Joey Porter on the field while the Steelers were attending to the injured Brown.
Lewis declined to criticize either player directly after the game.
"I'm not going to single out our guys," Lewis said.