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Lewis defiant in support of Dalton, himself despite latest playoff loss

Move along, people. There’s nothing to see here. Everything’s fine.

That, in essence, was Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis’ message to the fans Monday during his post-mortem press conference in wake of Sunday’s 27-10 playoff loss to San Diego, the team’s third consecutive first-round ouster and fourth in the last five years.

Lewis is the first coach in NFL history to lose his first five playoff games with the same team, and he is one loss shy of tying Marty Schottenheimer, Jim Mora and Steve Owen for most consecutive playoff losses overall.

Asked what continues to give him faith he is the man to lead the Bengals to their first playoff victory since 1991, Lewis said, “I’m the guy in the seat. So we’ll be fine. Today sucks. We’ll be better. We’ll be all right.”

He has one year left on his contract, and all indications are that team president Mike Brown is not going to make a change, not after Brown has stuck with Lewis despite a 90-90-1 career record and no playoff victories in 11 seasons.

Lewis took exception when it was suggested he is in a unique position in that regard.

“I don’t think the situation is unique at all,” he said. “I think if the other places were in the situation — they lost a playoff game after winning the division — their head coach would be in place. Don’t you?”

The latest playoff loss followed a similar script to the ones in 2005, 2009, 2011 and 2012 – an inability to stop the run on defense and an inability to hold on to the ball on offense.

The Bengals have allowed 857 rushing yards in their five playoff losses under Lewis, an average of 171.4 per game. And they have a minus-11 turnover margin with 12 giveaways and one takeaway.

The Chargers rushed for 196 yards Sunday, and the Bengals were minus-4 in turnovers, with quarterback Andy Dalton throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble despite being untouched while trying to dive for a first down.

Dalton is only the fifth quarterback to lead his team to the playoffs in his first three seasons, but the first to lose all three games.

In those three losses, he is 70 of 123 for 718 yards with one touchdown, six interceptions and a passer rating of 56.2

“Our quarterback continues to take positive steps forward,” Lewis said. “(Sunday) was not the outcome we wanted, and of course the quarterback gets the heat for it. He had another very good season. He’s progressed well. We need to continue to do things to make his job just easier and easier to do, and make sure to continue to be repetitive with what we do for him, and continue to let the players around him continue to get better.”

Dalton said he met with Lewis on Monday morning, and the coach reassured him he is behind him.

“He said I am the guy he believes in, and he believes that I can get us over the next hump,” Dalton said. “It’s great to hear that from your coach, and that’s what I wanted to hear.”

Like Lewis, Dalton is entering the final year of his contract.

And like his coach, Dalton doesn’t expect to be going anywhere else any time soon.

“I think everybody knows what I’ve been able to do here, and so I think I’ve got a lot of confidence in the stuff Marvin has been telling me,” Dalton added. “I expect to be here for a long time. I’m hoping that is the case. I’ve got a good relationship with Marvin, he’s been telling me a lot of good stuff. Yeah, it’s unfortunate that we lost, but we’ve been able to improve every year that I’ve been here.”

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