PITTSBURGH — Adam “Pac Man” Jones is one of the more polarizing players in the NFL with his long history of suspensions and off-the-field problems. However, the veteran Cincinnati Bengals cornerback always keeps things interesting.
In the course of talking with reporters following Sunday’s 24-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, Jones went from talking about the Bible one minute to using a 12-letter obscenity the next.
“My wife called me this morning with a scripture saying to do what I do and let the Lord do the rest,” Jones said. “I’m content. Whatever you want to write you can write. I know the guys in this locker room. All we can do is keep working hard.”
Jones seemed to be taking the loss to his team’s most bitter rival rather well. The Steelers ended the Bengals’ 2015 season by rallying for an 18-16 victory in an AFC divisional round playoff game last season, a pair of last-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on Jones and linebacker Vontaze Burfict setting up Chris Boswell’ game-winning field goal with 14 seconds remaining.
Then, Pac-Man changed course and already began looking forward to the next meeting between the teams, Dec. 18 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.
“We’ll see those (insert bad 12-letter word) again,” Jones said. “When we see them again, we will see. I tip my hat off to (quarterback Ben Roethlisberger) and Pittsburgh today. They played a little bit better.”
While Roethlisberger threw three touchdowns passes, he didn’t have a hat-tipping performance, completing just 19 of 37 passes for 259 yards while being intercepted twice.
It was the Steelers’ defense that made the difference as it held the Bengals to three field goals until Andy Dalton threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to running back Giovani Bernard with 3:25 to go that drew Cincinnati within 24-16.
The Bengals then reached the Steelers’ 39-yard line with two minutes remaining but rookie wide receiver Tyler Boyd fumbled when hit by linebacker James Harrison following a 6-yard reception and safety Robert Golden recovered.
That ended a frustrating day for the offense.
While Dalton finished with 366 yards passing, he was just 31-of-54. Wide receiver A.J. Green was held to two receptions for 38 yards after burning the New York Jets for 12 catches and 180 yards in the season-opening 23-22 win over the New York Jets.
The Bengals tried to establish their running game early but never gained any traction in finishing with 46 yards on 18 carries. They were also 4-for-16 on third down and 0-for-3 in the red zone.
“It made a difference in the football game,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said of his team’s third-down problems. “We just didn’t play well enough early enough and long enough.”
From the start, it seemed that the Bengals never found a rhythm offensively.
“There’s not one thing,” Dalton said when asked about the erratic effort. “They did a good job when we were in some third-and-long situations, which makes it tough. We just weren’t able to convert.”
Dalton preferred to look ahead rather than behind. The Bengals host the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos next Sunday, which should assure they will not suffer a post-Steelers hangover.
“I feel like this will be a good tape to learn from,” Dalton said. “We have to move past this game. We are playing a really good team next week. The Broncos won the world championship last year. We have to take the tape, look at it, and see the areas that we need to improve.”