The Cincinnati Bengals entered their Week 15 matchup vs the Pittsburgh Steelers with revenge in mind as a last-ditch attempt at a consolation to their failed 2016 season. The home leg of their season series against the Steelers — after their controversial game in the playoffs last year — was also a chance for head coach Marvin Lewis to take himself off the hot seat in the midst of a woeful 5-7-1 season prior to Sunday’s game.

With five straight Wild Card game losses and a losing season for the first time since 2011 in the cards for the Bengals, Lewis arguably needed a win over the Steelers to save his job on Sunday. To get swept by the Steelers after their crushing defeat to their AFC North rivals in January would be the most bitter end to an era where the Bengals threw away their window of opportunity with Lewis at the helm for each early postseason exit. However, a win and revenge over the Steelers would offer some level of hope for the future for a Bengals roster that was a shell of the former versions of past years for the vast majority of the season.

At halftime, it appeared that the Bengals would get the win to salvage their lost season with no playoffs thanks to a 20-9 lead over the Steelers. Unfortunately for the Bengals and their head coach’s job security, that two-score lead was erased by the Steelers in a half where quarterback Andy Dalton and the offense were shut out by the Pittsburgh defense to lose 24-20 at home. Ben Roethlisberger once again left Cincinnati with the last laugh in a result that is all too familiar for the Bengals, who are 2-14 against the Steelers in Lewis’ tenure with the franchise.

Lewis and the Bengals getting handed a third straight loss to the Steelers in a calendar year, is yet another item in the case against the longtime sideline boss, in a year where everything has turned sour on his once consistent machine that had made five consecutive postseason appearances. The loss of Hue Jackson as the offensive coordinator has caused the regression of Andy Dalton and the offense, while the departure of safety Reggie Nelson hasn’t helped an aging defense that has lost a step. All of this regression under Lewis’ watch further entrenches the doubt in his ability to ever guide the Bengals to a Super Bowl level after his noted failures to win in the playoffs throughout his 14-year run in Cincinnati.

After this nightmare season, it’s time for the Bengals to move on from Lewis and press the reset button on a once prosperous era that now evokes nothing but memories of failed promise. If the Bengals are to quickly rebuild themselves back into a team that can challenge the Steelers in the division, it might just have to be without a head coach who has never been able to find a way to overpass his biggest obstacle.

Other Week 15 early takeaways

* The New York Giants are a banged up team, but they continue to find ways to win under first-year head coach Ben McAdoo. After their season sweep of the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football last week, the Giants continued to build momentum for the playoffs this afternoon with an impressive home win over the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions.

New York lost yet another key player when Paul Perkins left the game with a troubling injury for their ground attack, but their defense was the postgame story after yet another stout performance against a division leader with a shutdown outing against MVP candidate Matt Stafford. The Lions offense was held to six points behind the continued elite cornerback play from Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who have made up for the loss of Jason Pierre-Paul after he underwent surgery for a sports hernia injury and could have derailed the Giants’ season in his absence.

About Chase Ruttig

Chase Ruttig is a Canadian sportswriter who covers North American sports for various outlets.