I just read this article in the cincinnati enquirer..very surprised the Bengals fess up..

On Sunday, everybody did their job except the Bengals.

The result of the Denver-San Francisco game late Sunday put an exclamation point on the Bengals' season. And it made this fact painfully apparent: They have only themselves to blame for missing the playoffs.

Kansas City defeated Jacksonville. The 49ers upset the Broncos. All the Bengals had to do was beat Pittsburgh and they would have been headed to Indianapolis for a wild-card playoff game on Saturday. Instead they lost 23-17 in overtime.

It's the Bengals' fault. The schedule-makers and the NFL are not to blame. Neither are the police officers who arrested eight Bengals this past calendar year. Or the media.

It's a combination of over-confident, albeit talented, players who - by the admission of their head coach - are still more concerned about "me" than "team." Blame sits at the feet of a head coach whose game management, timeout usage, personnel selection and apparent lack of control in his team's locker room are contributing to undisciplined and inconsistent play on the field.

When Shayne Graham's 39-yard field goal attempt veered wide right with 12 seconds left in regulation, the Bengals missed another chance to play in January.

In overtime, Pittsburgh won the coin toss and needed all of three plays to drive 78 yards for the winning touchdown. Santonio Holmes beat cornerback Tory James on a short slant pattern, avoided James' feeble attempt at a tackle, eluded safety Madieu Williams and outran linebacker Brian Simmons.

The season ended at 8-8 for both teams.

"We've got to make a tackle," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.

So ends a tumultuous 12-month span for Cincinnati that started with quarterback Carson Palmer's career-threatening knee injury in the playoff loss to Pittsburgh Jan. 8 and grew increasingly strange with Chad Johnson's alleged locker-room meltdown and Chris Henry's almost comical accumulation of arrests.

Lewis talked about character in April. Then he drafted two players, defensive end Frostee Rucker and linebacker A.J. Nicholson, with checkered backgrounds - just as he drafted Henry and now-suspended middle linebacker Odell Thurman the year before.

Two storylines dominated the offseason and spilled into the season: Palmer's dignified and admirable effort to return from injury and the team's series of arrests off the field. The Bengals ended this season in the middle of the pack in the standings, but they led the NFL - by a score of 8-5 over San Diego - in players arrested.

"It hurts when you lose players to suspension," Palmer said Sunday. "I feel like the media makes a bigger deal about how it affects the team than in reality."

Still, there were comments Sunday from players about how changes had to be made and how players and coaches had to do their jobs better in 2007.

Lewis was asked if he had changes in mind. "None that I would sit here and talk about," he said. "We'll be better. That's all."

Every season brings change. There could be a lot of new faces on Cincinnati's roster in 2007. Don't look for James or guard Eric Steinbach to return. Cornerback Deltha O'Neal might join his buddy James on the street. Tight end Reggie Kelly and defensive end Justin Smith can be unrestricted free agents in March, though they hardly are part of the problem. Rock-solid 13-year offensive lineman Rich Braham retired last week. Linebacker David Pollack, a first-round pick in 2005, broke his neck and faces surgery and a possible early retirement.

What needs to be done?

"If I had the answer to that I'd be a head coach," said left tackle Levi Jones, who had to leave Sunday's game in the second half because his injured knee flared up. "I don't know. For whatever reason, we don't get it done. We need to own up, be accountable (and) get it right.

"Whatever guys we bring back next year, whatever guys part, whatever happens, we need to get it better and we need a better (frame of mind)."

Jones is headed to Los Angeles to have his doctor examine his knee.

On the other side of the ball, either the pass defense or the run defense takes the day off, it seems. Sunday, the Steelers ran 45 times for 207 yards, including 134 yards and two touchdowns by tailback Willie Parker.

"They just ran it down our throat and whipped our (butts)," Smith said.

In its final three series, Pittsburgh gained 226 yards of total offense. In their first seven possessions, the Bengals had just 127.

"A bumpy, rocky road, all season, as the season progressed, and also today," said Bengals tailback Rudi Johnson, who ran just 13 times for 47 yards. "The game today is a reflection of the season. Up and down. And, in the end, everything catches up with you."

Inconsistency and selfishness were the words of the day. The Bengals won three games in a row, lost five of six, won four in a row and lost three in a row.

Palmer lobbied after the game for the team to re-sign tight end Kelly and third-down back Kenny Watson. They're the type of players Willie Anderson, the team's right tackle and conscience, said the Bengals need more of.

"Sometimes you have to get smart, selfless players who understand football," Anderson said. "He might not run the fastest 40-yard dash, but he knows the angles, or how to block a certain way."

And someone who, as Braham mentioned in his retirement news conference last week, goes to work, works hard and goes straight home at night.