CINCINNATI, Ohio (AP) – Susan Lucci hopes Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis doesn’t lose another 12 NFL playoff games before notching his first postseason victory with the Bengals.
After losing to Houston in 2012, Lewis said he was starting to feel like Lucci, who was nominated 19 times before winning her first Daytime Emmy Award for Best Actress in her role as Erica Kane on “All My Children.”
Three seasons later, Lewis and his Bengals host Pittsburgh on Saturday as the coach looks to avoid an NFL-record seventh straight postseason defeat.
“I hope he doesn’t go 12 more years before he wins a playoff game,” Lucci said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, and she wasn’t joking. “I certainly hope the best for him. I’m sure he has a similar feeling to what I had — how do you do your work better and grow?”
Lewis probably won’t get the chance to lose 18 straight playoff games, but at 0-6, he is already at the top of some dubious postseason lists:
— Lewis and Jim Mora Sr. are the only coaches to lose their first six NFL playoff games.
— Lewis and Steve Owen are the only coaches to lose six straight with one team. Owen coached the Giants from 1939-50 and had two wins in his first four playoff games before dropping the next six.
— He is tied with Mora, Marty Schottenheimer and Steve Owen for consecutive losses.
“It’s disappointing but I don’t know any other way than to start over,” Lewis said after last season’s 26-10 loss to the Colts. “Whenever the opportunity comes to build back up and get working and fight our way back through it I will do it.”
Mora won two titles in the United States Football League but couldn’t find the same success with New Orleans and Indianapolis.
“You can say you don’t care what people think but that’s baloney, you do. It is something that you don’t want to be branded with,” Mora said. “I thought at some point that maybe I would have won one.”
Lewis has tried to deflect that talk. He has said often that the goal isn’t one win in the playoffs but four, which would mean the Bengals winning the Super Bowl.
However, until the Bengals get a win, the barrier remains and Lewis knows that all too well.
“We’ve just got to go play. We’re not going to get any of you to shut up about it until we win,” he said.
At other times that Lewis has addressed it, his comments are similar to Lucci’s about how he has tried to use each loss as a learning experience.
“We always look to ourselves to do better. In the arts it is much more subjective measuring performance but in sports the score is the ultimate indicator,” Lucci said. “The wonderful part for me was the outpouring of support from the fans and the press because they were so encouraging.”
That might be the biggest difference between.
Over the past couple years, Bengals fans have not been quite as supportive. With a 24-year postseason win drought (fifth-longest in NFL history) and as the first team to go one-and-done four straight years, fans have come to expect the worst. Quarterback Andy Dalton is not playing due to a broken thumb, and Cincinnati is the underdog despite being division champs and playing at home.
Lucci said that starting with the ninth time she was nominated and didn’t win, she started feeling numb during the ceremony. Expecting the same result in 1999, Lucci said it took a couple moments for her to realize that she had finally won.
Everyone will have an eye to Lewis’s reaction if he ends the drought, since he mostly keeps his emotions in check. Mora says every playoff berth comes with emotional baggage when you are in a slump.
“You still welcome getting into the playoffs, but there was that little sense of dread answering the same questions about if this was the year that I would win one,” Mora said. “I didn’t worry about it at the time as much as not concentrating what was in the back of my mind.”
Mora and Lewis both turned around woeful franchises but are more known for playoff failure. Mora, probably best known for his rant: “Playoffs? Don’t talk about playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs ?!?”— holds the record for most games coached (237) without a postseason win. Lewis is second with 214.
In the six playoff games under Lewis, the Bengals have been outscored 84-13 in the second half and have been held scoreless four times, including the past two.
The Bengals coach has referred to this game as the chance for an “exorcism.”
Mora and Lucci are hoping Lewis can put his postseason demons to rest.