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Giovani Bernard's extension a product of friendships, 'unfinished business'

CINCINNATI -- Giovani Bernard wants to be part of history.

It's one of the reasons the running back was compelled last week to finalize a contract extension with the Cincinnati Bengals that will keep him in stripes through the 2019 season.

"We still have a lot to do," Bernard said. "There's a little bit of unfinished business that we want to -- not address, but -- get past."

Of course, that unfinished business revolves around winning a playoff game. It has been 25 years since the Bengals have done that, although they were mighty close this past January. When AJ McCarron connected with A.J. Green on a go-ahead touchdown pass just inside the final two minutes of the Bengals' wild-card game against visiting rival Pittsburgh, Paul Brown Stadium erupted with the kind of glee that made it seem as if years of postseason misery were about to be shaken loose from the place.

But as has been written here and many other places all offseason, a Bengals fumble and a pair of penalties on later possessions negated the key score. On their final drive of the game, the Steelers got into field goal range with seconds remaining and blasted through a game-winning chip shot.

"As an organization, there are things we want to accomplish, and I'll be there for that," Bernard said.

That pleases coach Marvin Lewis, who said Tuesday the recent extension was another sign of a player practicing what he professes to having long preached.

"The message is that if you put your head down and go to work, then good things will happen. You also get a chance to control it," Lewis said. "In our case with Gio, it all worked out well. We're glad that he's been signed."

Lewis added that other pending free agents could get extensions later this summer, too.

Besides signing his extension to help the Bengals finally win a playoff game after repeated one-and-done postseason performances, Bernard said he agreed to the deal because it allows him to stay around people he's come to care deeply about the past four years.

"I've created a lot of friendships on this team, a lot of guys I look up to," Bernard said. "The biggest thing is that I'm able to continue those friendships with these guys and these coaches in this organization."