Marvin Lewis has yet to find out how difficult it is to part with veteran players who helped win several Super Bowl titles. But he is hoping to be getting closer to the moment.

The Cincinnati Bengals have never won a playoff game since Lewis became head coach in 2003, but they have made more trips to the postseason in the past four years (3) than the Steelers (2).

And, in a winner-take-all game in December in Heinz Field, they beat the Steelers, 13-10, to grab one of the wild-card playoff spots in the AFC -- and guarantee the worst record in Mike Tomlin's six-year tenure.

They are no longer playing to catch-up to the Steelers. With four of their stars under the age of 26, they are on the precipice of passing the Steelers and joining the Baltimore Ravens as the division heavies, if they haven't already.

Especially because the Steelers are facing another season of purging their roster of veteran players from past Super Bowl teams.

"It's a very difficult thing," said Lewis, a former Steelers assistant coach who grew up in McDonald and attended Fort Cherry High School. "Bill Walsh was the best at it, ever. What 49er retired playing his last season as a 49ers? Only one -- Steve Young."

And Young ended his career playing for George Seifert, not Walsh. Even Chuck Noll was criticized for holding on too long to many of his four-time Super Bowl veterans.

"They had great Hall of Fame players and only one played his last season in SF," Lewis was saying Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. "It just goes to show how difficult that is because you, as player, still feel like you can play at this level; but the club at times has to, for better or worse, move away from you and move forward. You might take a little dip for a bit, but then it's got to move forward.

"Pittsburgh has had tremendous, tremendous players. Mike and Kevin [Colbert] have done a great job of putting their football team together. I don't feel they'll be any different as they go forward. I know how Mr. [Dan] Rooney and Art feel about those things. They just got a great plan."