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What the Bengals Said After Ravens' Win in Cincy

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) walks off the field following an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Cincinnati. The Ravens won 27-24.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) walks off the field following an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Cincinnati. The Ravens won 27-24.

Head Coach Zac Taylor

What do you feel told the story of the game today?

"Turnover battle, 1-0. Every time we play them, that's what it comes down to."

How would you assess this performance?

"I thought our guys fought. This is exactly the game we knew we would get. They got the ball first, leading 17-14 at the half, but were in great shape coming out of the half with the ball. Then Geno Stone made a great play with the pick. He did a good job holding backside, cheating post-snap. Then they hit an explosive play. That's the way it goes when you play these guys. I told our team, 'This is the type of game you store away and learn from.' You win more games down the road because of what we went through today. There's nothing discouraging about how our team played. You want to come out with a win, especially at home in front of our tremendous crowd, but it is what it is. We're 0-2 right now and get a chance to bounce back on Monday Night Football."

How do you think Joe Burrow looked today?

"I thought he looked great. I thought he was poised; the protection was unbelievable up front. Those guys do a great job holding coverages as long as anyone we've played against. I thought he saw it really well. He did a good job efficiently leading us."

Would he have gone back in for a final series, if needed?

"That was the plan."

Has Joe's health limited the playbook at all?

"I thought this week we were in really great shape."

How hard is it to contain Lamar Jackson?

"He's very difficult, then you put on top (of that) all of the weapons they have. They have an elite skill group — an elite tight end, great running backs too. It's built to be tough and explosive. They do a great job."

Does the 0-2 start last year give you hope for next week?

"The beauty of this team is we know it's a 17-game season. There's no overreaction on our end. We have to be prepared for stuff outside our locker room, which is natural. We're in a very difficult division. We would have loved to come out 2-0; 1-1 would have been fine too. This is exactly where we were last year, and this team is only going to get better with every game that passes. When you stumble early, you have to learn from it. So many years in the past, we've learned from early-season losses that have propelled us in November and December. This will be no different. I'm very confident in that."

How frustrating is it to start 0-2?

"It's not what we want. There are a lot of really positive things that happened today against a really good football team. We've lost to two teams now that will be there down the stretch, but we get them again, just like last year. It is important to turn the page, because it's always a new team and a new year. But there's a lot we can take from last year that will help us going forward."

Did you think Joe saw Stone on that interception?

"I saw what he saw. Stone did a good job holding on the snap, and then when Joe's eyes came, he popped over. It's a veteran safety making a good play."

How are you able to evaluate the defense's performance against the rush?

"They got 40-something carries and do a good job leaning on the run game when they need to. They get a 10-point lead there at one point, then a lead at the end. They did a good job. They have good personnel you have to honor, then the skill guys obviously. Their quarterback is difficult because you have to rush him differently. It creates a whole new list of opportunities for them."

How do you feel Lamar played?

"To my eye, he played really well."

Was the lack of pressure on him by design?

"It's a challenge. There are pressures there where he's elite with his movement skills. Some quarterbacks, the pressure would be there and affect him. For him, he just skips around it and is able to move on. You have to rush him differently. He does such a good job in the pocket. He's one of the best passers in the league, and combined with his rushing skills, he makes it difficult."

QB Joe Burrow

Overall, how do you feel like you and the offense performed today?

"Not well enough to win. Now we'll go watch the tape. We did some really good things, some things we can clean up too."

What happened with the calf at the end of that play?

"Tweaked it a little bit again, we'll see where it is tomorrow."

Did you feel like you gained any momentum in the second half? The second half you were getting some good drives and eventually scored ...

"Yeah, we moved the ball well the whole game. First half, we had three possessions and then we had a holding call that took us back. When you have one of those, it kind of derails the drive and then we had a third down and we didn't convert. Then, we scored points on the other one. Second half, looking back, we moved it really well, it came down to the turnover in the red zone. When you're playing that team you can't have that mistake, because they're going to run it well. They're going to keep it away from you. They're going to score points. Lamar (Jackson) is a great player. He's going to make plays, so you've got to take advantage of all your red zone opportunities and that was my mistake."

What did you see on that good play by the safety?

"A really good play by him, good disguise. But I've got to see that."

There's going to be plenty of talk about your calf. Is that something that you're going to have to weigh in, not thinking on a week-to-week basis. Do you let yourself think about long term?

"We're going to have to wait and see. I'm not sure how it's going to feel the next couple of days. It's pretty sore right now, but no telling how it's going to feel so I think we're going to take it day by day."

How did you tweak it?

"It was on the play before the last touchdown."

Are you concerned that it's going to be something you have to manage all year?

"I don't know. It's tough to tell. It's tough to look into the future and see that. I'm doing everything I can to get healthy and get that thing the way I need to so I can go out and perform the way I need to win. We'll see."

Last year, fast starts were such a theme. After the 0-2 start, you guys wanted to start fast, and that was kind of a point of emphasis. Will it be that again?

"Yeah. I think we always want to start fast. Teams play us soft, keep everything in front. I think we did a good job of taking what they gave us today. But if you start fast, teams think twice about playing that way. So, we've got to start fast"

WR Tee Higgins

In the second half, did you feel a rhythm was starting with Joe Burrow passing for over 190 yards?

"I think so. It definitely started coming, but as you know, a little too late. We've got to get that rhythm early, especially against a team like that. It came a little too late."

The Ravens put a lot of pressure on you to do something with your possessions because they don't give you many with their whole thing to play keep away. If you get three or four possessions a half, it's a big deal, isn't it?

"Yeah, for sure, man. They held the ball quite an amount of time and that obviously hurt. Our defense was getting stops, but we just weren't capitalizing. You've got (to) play complementary football, and it showed."

CB Mike Hilton

Zac Taylor was just talking about you all understood the expectations of this team, but you also understand that it's a long season. With a 0-2 start, how is that sitting in this room?

"It's a little frustrating, especially with it being two division losses. Our No. 1 goal is to win our division, and we've kind of put ourselves in a hole. Like I said, we've been here before, and we've got to find a way to dig each other out of it and get a win next Monday."

Can you pinpoint what happened today on third downs?

"Just Lamar (Jackson), and they kept themselves in third-and-manageable. They're winning first and second downs, so third down is third-and-three, third-and-two — some easy third downs. Cut throat time, you know? Lamar kept the ball in his hands and was able to make plays with his legs."

C Ted Karras

How important is to focus on the next game and what you have to do week in, week out versus dwelling on today's loss?

"We've been here before like last year. It is what it is — that's a patented AFC North bloodbath type of game and we came three points short. We made some mistakes but ultimately, we're coming after the Rams next."

How would you evaluate the offense today?

"When you play the Ravens, every possession is at a premium. Usually, an NFL game is about 10-11 possessions (for an offense) and the Ravens cut that down usually to about eight. So, we had the ball three times in the first half (that resulted in) two three-and-outs and got it going there and scored on the last one. I think we did some good things. We got it going in the second half. We don't need to dip our toe in the water anymore — we need to dive right in and get some points right away. That's a big part of our strategy, to score first, obviously. Our record is pretty good when we score first. (We need to) not dip our toe in the water, going down, (have a) 75-yard drive to start games and taking the lead right away."

CB Chidobe Awuzie

What happened on the touchdown pass to Ravens wide receiver Nelson Agholor?

"It was a great ball on his outside shoulder. I'm running with him — I'm getting ready to look back and I see his eyes are getting big (because) the ball's coming. It was a great ball (but) on my part, I feel I could have anticipated it way better. I could have gotten there sooner. He gave me a look in the beginning where I kind of — it was third and short — and I was thinking, 'He may do a short route,' and he kind of burst out of there. I was still in good position but again, it was still a great pass and next time it happens, I'll definitely be ready for that."

Lamar Jackson didn't have a lot of rushing yards today, but it felt like when they needed him to get them, he did. That's kind of what he does, no?

"Yeah. He's the MVP of their team for a reason. (He's) one of the best players in our league and all the props to him. Obviously, we wish we would have tackled a little bit better but guys like that, you kind of have to know they're going to extend plays and it's going to take all 11 (of us), so we have to do a better job of getting to the ball when he does break loose."

WR Charlie Jones

There was a penalty flag thrown during your punt return for a touchdown. Did you think it was coming back?

"I did. I even gave the ball to the referee thinking it wasn't going to be good, so I don't even have the ball. It counted, so that's all that mattered."

There was one key block early in the return and then it just seemed like it was wide open down the sideline.

"Yeah, it was wide open. They did a great job blocking and made my job pretty easy."

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