On Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals became the first team in the Super Bowl-era to give up 500-plus yards in three straight games.
The team announced defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has been relieved of his duties.
ESPN's Josina Anderson first reported the firing.
"I appreciate the hard work that Coach Austin has put into our football team, but I felt it best to make a change at this point in time, and I wish him the best," head coach Marvin Lewis said in a statement. "I will be coordinating the defense from here on out and I am excited to do that. This football team has a real chance to get back to playing winning football so we can compete for the playoffs, and that is our sole focus."
Sunday's blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints was the last straw for the Bengals' D. The 51 points allowed was the most for a Cincinnati team since Week 2, 2007 (lost 51-45 at Browns). The limp defense did not have a takeaway or a sack in the loss to the Saints, as they were steamrolled by Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, et al. The Bengals have given up 45, 34, and 51 points in their last three games. For the season, Austin's defense held just one opponent to fewer than 20 points (Miami Dolphins, 17).
After Sunday's loss, Lewis was asked about any potential changes he might make to help stem the tide. Per ESPN's Katherine Terrell, the coach was silent for several seconds, perhaps portending Monday's firing.
"Again, it's hard to speak for today, we talked about the other things," Lewis said Sunday. "We need to play better. We need to get off the field on third down. I looked up there at halftime and they were 6-for-6."
Asked if it was a schematic issue or simply breakdowns by players, Lewis again paused before replying:
"It's, ... again, I'm not gonna get into any observations right now," he said at the time.
Monday's firing speaks loudly enough.
Sitting at 5-4, the Bengals are still in the thick of the playoff hunt in a middling AFC -- despite three losses in four games, Cincy still clings to the No. 6 seed.