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Lewis, Del Rio are NFL’s ultimate survivors
With just four postseason appearances and one playoff victory between them, they have lasted nine seasons in a league that has little patience for losing.
“There are some teams that before the coach’s guys, his system or the things that he wants to do, before they even take root, he’s gone and they’re doing it again,” said Del Rio, who has one win in two postseason appearances. “Rarely are those situations any good.”
Some would argue that Lewis and Del Rio outstayed their welcome. But thanks to loyal owners and possibly some pitches that would make used-car salesmen smile, the two will be on opposite sidelines Sunday when the Jaguars (1-3) host the Bengals (2-2).
“We’re still doing it and still doing it at the same places,” said Lewis, winless in two playoff games. “Not many people get to start over like I did, coming in and basically starting from scratch. … Most times, coaches have to go to another club in order to have a new beginning, and I was able to do that here.”
Lewis could be around a while, too.
With rookie quarterback Andy Dalton making progress, rookie receiver A.J. Green showing big-play ability and a rebuilt defense that ranks No. 1 in the league, the Bengals could be a factor in the AFC. They believe they are a few third-down conversations away from being undefeated.
There was the two-point loss at Denver in which Cincinnati failed to convert 10 of 11 third-down opportunities and were denied points on three consecutive drives in Broncos territory in the final seven minutes.
The Bengals struggled in the fourth quarter the following week against San Francisco, having to settle for a short field goal in a tie game late, then giving up a long touchdown drive and throwing back-to-back interceptions.
“Against Denver and the 49ers, I think we left some plays out there,” linebacker Rey Maualuga said. “They’re two games that we think we should have won and we just didn’t quite finish in the fourth quarter like we wanted to.”
The Jaguars haven’t started or finished like they wanted this season.
Rookie Blaine Gabbert has avoided major meltdowns in two starts, but his few mistakes have been costly and his inexperience has been evident.
The Jaguars have lost three in a row and have scored an NFL-low 39 points. It’s the lowest-scoring, four-game stretch in franchise history, and has some wondering whether Del Rio will make it past the bye week early next month.
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
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