What the Bengals Said After Beating Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) talk with head coach Zac Taylor during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Denver.

Head Coach Zac Taylor

Who got the game ball today?

"Vonn Bell, and then our receiving group — TB (Tyler Boyd), Ja'Marr (Chase), Tee (Higgins) — and Joe Burrow. They stepped up to the challenge. We needed those guys to have a big game like they did last time against these guys, and they certainly rose to the occasion."

Were you aware that Joe Burrow was close to 500 yards, and were you trying to get him that when you were throwing the ball down on the last drive?

"No, we just wanted to keep being aggressive. They could score quickly — I don't care who's playing quarterback for them. That guy went out there and managed the game real well, and they've shown that. This is a team who they've been down in similar situations like this. Green Bay had them down I think it was 11 last week, had a three-and-out, and they came roaring back and had a chance to win the game. And we were not going to allow that to happen."

When did you find out that Joe Burrow topped the 500-yard mark?

"After the game."

Your reaction?

"Not surprised. He was feeling it today, the receivers were feeling it, and there was a lot of confidence there overall on offense."

When you're game planning this week and you see how many guys they have out in their secondary, was it just that obvious that it was going to be all about exploiting those weaknesses?

"At the end of the day, all of those guys have played football for them. They've all been out there, and yeah maybe they had a new DB in there, but those are a bunch of guys that are first-round picks up front and have played a lot of football for them. Their two starting linebackers were there, they got Chuck Clark back at safety, and No, 21 (Brandon Stephens) has played a lot of football for them this year. Maybe their depth was affected, but again we knew that it was going to be a challenge for us. We needed to be effective running and throwing the football. The whole plan was to kind of see where we were effective early on, and stick with it."

You've been here in seasons where you had a lot of bad luck with injuries and other things that happened, so you're not going to feel sorry for that situation ...

"No — heck no. Week 17 last year, we had hardly anybody left ...These guys have fought hard, we asked them to answer the bell, and they did. That's still the Baltimore Ravens out there playing meaningful football for them, so our guys shouldn't apologize for one second for the performance they had. I'm dang proud of those guys for having hung in there for the full course of the game, and for handling the adversity we've had over the course of time too."

You wondered what they might do, and it looked like they did a little bit of everything — they blitzed, they played back. Was that your sense, that they backed off a little bit?

"Yeah, they threw some pressures, and played a couple different coverages. We felt good about how we could attack them, and had some answers for everything. There were some times we had to take a step back and see what we were getting a little bit more of. I think they did a good job of changing it up. It was never clear what we were going to get down to down, but our guys handled it well."

There was a throw that Joe Burrow made that was indicative of his confidence — the fourth-and-four throw to Tee Higgins on the out. Does that stick out to you?

"That's one of our core routes that we've run a million times, so he and Tee have connected on that over and over. We actually ran it against them last time in a very similar play on a fourth down to Ja'Marr (Chase). There wasn't much I was going to call today that he didn't have confidence in, to be quite honest with you."

You guys didn't take your foot off the gas when you were up 41-21 ...

"Our guys need to develop a killer instinct right now. Now's the time that we have to be playing our best football. Baltimore's been in this position before, and they never quit. You can start doing some of those things where all the sudden they score, and it's a one possession game, and you have to start throwing again. We saw that too much on tape from them to be able to get back in the game, so that's why we did what we did." 

With Joe Burrow's day today, it may overshadow how good the receivers were. But how rare is it for all three of those guys to have a great performance like today?

"Yeah, wouldn't trade them for anybody. That package of receivers we have allows us to make it hard for defenses to focus on that, but if they do, it's really fine by us. We also have a Pro Bowl running back, and we just feel like we have a lot of different weapons and a lot of ways to attack people."

How much did you notice the difference in Joe Burrow's pocket presence today, and how important was that for some of the big plays you were able to make?

"Yeah, I thought it was a big part of it. There were some where he had rhythm, and he had time, and there were some where he had to make some plays with his feet. I don't know how he gets out of those situations, but we've always kind of shaken our heads when we've played quarterbacks like Lamar (Jackson) and some of these guys over the years, and it's kind of the same deal, and now we've got that guy. And it's a tremendous weapon to have."

When you said Joe was feeling it today, as a play caller are there cues you're looking for from him to know he's in that state of mind?

"He was making really good decisions, and the ball was coming out quick when he needed it to. He was seeing some of the stuff down field really well. You could tell his confidence in the pocket to get away from some pressures that showed up. You can just see when a guy's got it, and he had it today for sure."

To sweep Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the same season feels big to us outside of the organization, but for you how important is it? Because those are two really good franchises ...

"Sure. We've got kind of beaten up on over the last few years, so our guys just have all the confidence in the world right now. And they're not done yet. We're 4-1 in the division right now, and we need to be better than that this year, quite frankly. We know how big of a test this Kansas City game is coming up for us this weekend. It's far and away the biggest game of the year for us. Our guys are going to be ready, and we're going to do a great job of getting rested, and getting our best focus. We've got a huge challenge coming to town, and our guys are going to be ready for it."

Was there any thought of taking Joe Burrow out late in the game? You did that the last time against Baltimore, so where's the balance of leaving him in as opposed to taking him out?

"I'll be honest with you, with five minutes left, and I saw it with Green Bay last week, and they punted twice — the first possession and the last possession — that was it. And so they probably felt like they played really productive offensive football. I mean they punted twice, and they almost lost the game. Anything could happen, and we were going to go take this game like we said in the locker room before the game."

QB Joe Burrow

Clearly you were in the Christmas spirit today giving away presents to your wide receivers. What are your thoughts on their play today?

"They were unbelievable. (The Ravens) were playing a lot of zone coverage against us and they did a great job finding those zones. Zac (Taylor) called a great game. I'm really excited about how we performed today."

Did you see (Ravens Defensive Coordinator) Wink Martindale's comments about not giving out gold jackets just yet?

"Yeah, I did."

Did that mean anything or resonate to you at all?

"I think it was an unnecessary comment. I wouldn't say I was offended by it. I'm in year two. Who knows what's going to happen down the road? I didn't think it was a necessary comment." 

Was it on your mind as you were throwing for 525 yards?


Is that what you were thinking on the throw to Joe Mixon?

"Zac told me not to scramble on that one and I scrambled through the hole and saw Joe Mixon. I wasn't supposed to do it, but I went out there and did it anyways."

You and others were taken out of the game after the third quarter in Baltimore when you were up three touchdowns. Today you were still out there gunning at the end. Was Zac Taylor trying to send a message?

"No, I don't think so. I think their offense was moving the ball all day. They were doing a good job and putting points on the board. They're the number one rush defense in the league going into the game, so we were throwing the ball really well, so we needed first downs to keep their offense off the field. We were just doing what was working."

How did Baltimore play differently today from the October game?

"In the first half, they didn't blitz a lot. They played a lot of zone coverage. That obviously wasn't working out, so in the second half they started blitzing a little more. That didn't really work out either."

What does it say when a team can put up 40-plus points in multiple ways?

"We're just a good team. We've got Joe Mixon, we've got all those receivers and we've got an o-line that's playing really well. Teams are going to have to pick their poison with us. We've had some games where we haven't quite executed the way we wanted to but we've also had some games like today where we've executed better."

Did you know your completion to Joe Mixon put you over 500 yards?

"I knew I'd probably be close. I wasn't really aware until the last series going out there and then I kind of assumed we were going to go out and run the ball, but then we threw the ball a couple times and ended up getting it."

So before the final series you guys were aware of it (500 yards)?


RB Joe Mixon

What did you think when it was fourth-and-one, you were down early, and you had been stalled on the play before, and you go for it and get it. What did that mean to you guys?

"Man, that was really just a capitalizer right there. I told Zac (Taylor), and even the whole offense was telling him to go for it, and we needed to convert that, and that's what we did. Huge play, huge run, huge blocks. And it benefitted us."

Was that the best game you've ever seen Joe Burrow play?

"I guess stat-wise, yes, but I think that Joey B. is on point most of the time, and everybody in this offense had a lot to do with it. As many great things as we've done, we still have a lot to improve on. At the same time, yes, it was a great game for him — really the whole team, to be honest. But we've got a lot to get better, and we will."

And you were happy seeing the points tacked on at the end?

"Of course, I mean why not? Over these past few years people had been doing that to us. At the same time, it's a great feeling that the roles are reversed now, so we've just got to keep on doing it." 

How aware were you that Joe Burrow was close to that 500-yard mark, and what went through your head when that ball was in the air?

"Really, I just had a one-on-one with a linebacker/safety, and he played off like 4-5 yards, and they just told me to run a go. I just went ahead and tried to stem him — stemmed him inside — and just tried to turn on the jets. And before I saw it in the air, I was just thinking, 'Keep running, keep beating him,' and I'm just running down the sidelines, saw it, and just catch it, for one — and just making sure I did. Big accomplishment, and I gave him the ball. Thought it was a great feeling."

WR Tee Higgins

Take me through the play over top of the two guys down the field. I guess that was a double Moss. What did you see there?

"Yeah, I think the play was actually designed for Tyler (Boyd), and I was just doing my job running for the love of the game, and I look up, the ball's in the air, and I'm like, 'Oh!' It was a great play, and it was over two people — probably one of the greatest plays of my career. Felt good for sure."

There's been times where you had a big game and Ja'Marr Chase didn't, or Ja'Marr had a big game, but you didn't, Tyler's had a big game … Today, all three of you, and Joe Mixon, had big games receiving and rushing. How much did it showcase how versatile you guys can be at the same time?

"Yeah man, we showed people what we can do. Now that we have seen it, that's our standard now, and hope we can keep going, and keep the momentum moving into Kansas City."

DE Trey Hendrickson

With Lamar Jackson out, did you have any take on Josh Johnson?

"That's one of the things in the NFL — you have to be prepared for the situation we have globally. Like last year. We're ready for any quarterback at any time. If they sign a practice squad guy, we're ready for that as well. We're going to be our defense and play our brand of football. It's very unique, physical and fast."

There was a part of the game in the fourth quarter where it seemed you had the game well in hand. Why was it important to keep going back in there?

"That's everything our defense is about. We're physical and tough and fast. I don't think anybody's looking at a scoreboard in the third and fourth quarter. We've got a lot of things on the line, and we need to go places. We have goals to places, and they're not achieved if we don't make sure the game is finished. They don't give out wins until the final play is done. That's the mentality behind it. We were a few defensive ends short, and that's the situation we were in. I know Sam stepped up big time for us."

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