Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis's deliberations with the Cincinnati Bengals about their head-coaching job will remain on hold. With Pittsburgh eliminated from the playoffs yesterday, the Bengals likely will conduct a second interview with Steelers offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey in the coming days.

Lewis interviewed with the Bengals for the second time on Thursday and Friday and was close to getting the job, according to NFL sources. But the Bengals told Lewis they intended to speak to Mularkey again if the Steelers' season ended this weekend, sources said.

"Right now, I'm overwhelmed with the last three games," Mularkey said after yesterday's loss to Tennessee. "I'm physically and emotionally exhausted. And I'm looking for a little rest.

"Because of the rules, I just haven't had a chance to talk to them again. And if that happens, it will be probably sometime [Sunday] I would think."

Under NFL rules, the Bengals were prohibited from speaking to Mularkey again until Pittsburgh was eliminated from the postseason. Mularkey had one interview with the Bengals, last weekend in Pittsburgh. Mularkey said afterward that he had been ill-prepared for the interview, which took place on the eve of the Steelers' first playoff game.

If the Steelers had won yesterday, the Bengals likely would have hired Lewis last night or today, sources said. Instead, they apparently planned to schedule another meeting with Mularkey for today or Monday, then hire a coach quickly and get him to Mobile, Ala., to scout this week's Senior Bowl practices.

Lewis told associates after returning from Cincinnati that he expected to get the job, but they shouldn't count on anything quite yet. Sources said Lewis has begun to think about candidates for his staff in Cincinnati. The Redskins agreed to a contract extension with their newly appointed offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson, on Friday in part because they were concerned that he could join Lewis in Cincinnati. Jackson said Friday night he planned to remain with the Redskins.