Blame Canada? Blame the players

While it is easy to blame Canada, it is pretty rare that the blame is passed off in the NFL.

It was the players' fault.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, besides a cursory "blame-me" comment, put responsibility on the Cincinnati defensive players for San Diego's 42-point second half and comeback, leading to a 49-41 Bengals loss.

Of the players who played on defense Sunday, 20 were drafted or signed under Lewis' watch, which is now in its fourth season. Of the 11 defensive starters, only end Justin Smith was with the Bengals before Lewis.

"At some point players have to take responsibility to get their job done," Lewis said. "A lot of the things that errors were made on were not the first time through. It was through the week on particular plays, particular formations, particular defensive snaps in practice and it was done correctly. It was done correctly earlier in the football game at certain points. It comes down to the player being consistent with it."

The Bengals led 28-7 at halftime. The defense had allowed six first downs and 116 yards and limited the Chargers to one third-down conversion in five tries.

In the second half, San Diego scored 42 points, was eight for nine in converting third downs and gained 314 yards.

Lewis' team has lost five of six and eight of its last 12, but the coach offered nothing new Monday in terms of how to reverse its defensive fortunes.

"You do football with repetition, hard work, detail of your job, detail of what you do, and you keep doing it," he said. "That's how we got to where we are, and that's how we'll get out of this funk. It won't change and that's what we'll continue to do. We'll coach harder, we'll coach better. We need to play harder and play more efficiently and do things more productively.

"One week we throw it for a million, the next week we run for a bunch. We don't do this, we don't do that and it just keeps sliding. Hopefully, we got it down, and all we can do is move forward."

Lewis will not take control of the in-game defensive play calls. He had done it once, in 2004, at Cleveland in place of then-coordinator Leslie Frazier.

Lewis' old boss, Ravens head coach Brian Billick, fired offensive coordinator Jim Fassel earlier this season and took over offensive coordinator duties. Lewis would hear none of it.

"The point I proved is that it's not about what you call," said Lewis, whose defense was pounded for 34 points at Cleveland in 2004 under Lewis' watch. "That's the point that was proved at that time. ... And a certain individual (cornerback Deltha O'Neal) gave up a touchdown play that week (99 yards). He was not in the right technique; it was corrected in practice, and he gave up a big play. The coaches have corrected the situation, and reminded him of where you need to be and why. Then it comes down to the player."


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