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Marvin Lewis to Joe Mixon: 'You should show maturity'

Joe Mixon was less than pleased Sunday evening after seeing just two targets and zero rushes during Cincinnati's disaster second half in the Steel City.

The rookie runner cited Le'Veon Bell's 35 carries across the pitch as a comparison, telling reporters, "It's frustrating to us running backs. We feel like we're in the room and we feel like we're part of the offense. If it worked in the first half, why not do it in the second?"

Marvin Lewis, meanwhile, was having none of that. After telling scribes Sunday that "whatever plays are called are called" in regards to Mixon's gripes, the Bengals coach elaborated Monday.

"You should show maturity just like everybody else. Everybody wants to be out there all the time," Lewis told reporters, per the team's website. "But we're not going to create a run when we are down by 12 or 15 [points]. We're not going to create it.

"I saw a ball go on the ground when he received two balls thrown to him, which are the same situation. We got to handle it all the time the correct way, and be strong enough to not be led into questions after the game, which unfortunately he doesn't know enough about."

The Bengals entered the second half down 20-14 and quickly went down by 12 points after two Steelers field goals and two interceptions. Cincinnati attempted just four rushes in the final frames, despite Mixon racking up 48 yards on seven carries in the first half.

Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor had a similar reaction to the mini-quarrel, explaining that after early-half setbacks and long Steelers drives, Cincy had no choice but to abandon the run.

"If you look at how those series went, first of all, we were three-and-out, interception, interception, three-and-out," Lazor said. "So when you have a 51-play game, no one gets it enough. And there were a couple plays we chose to put someone else in for particular things and it had nothing to do with Joe; it worked out that way."

As Mixon said, it must be frustrating to watch other Bengals players and rookie running backs earn more attention, on and off the field. Considered a preseason sneaky favorite to lead all first-years in rushing, Mixon has seen other rookies, namely Kareem Hunt and even Aaron Jones, steal his shine. Among the 16 rookie running backs with at least 25 rushing attempts, Mixon ranks sixth in yards per game (39.2), but 13th in yards per attempt (3.18). In his own locker room, Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard still garner their fair share of carries.

Mixon looks to be the future of the position in Cincinnati, but the Bengals will have to preach Bell-like patience to the rookie to keep him satisfied in the interim.

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