BENGALS POSTGAME QUOTES, DEC. 26, 2021
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."
"Not surprised. He was feeling it today, the receivers were feeling it, and there was a lot of confidence there overall on offense."
Trey Hendrickson had another sack and is up to 14 on the season. Can you talk about his continued dominance over the course of the year?
"Yeah, he's always making plays. Some of them show up on the stat sheet, and some of them don't. The opponent that we're playing always feels his presence, and sometimes that's enough for us to be successful."
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 (how) 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."
Late in the game, were there any "Joe throw the ball away" moments?
"Yeah, I told him that every single play I called ... and he didn't (laughing)."
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."
One of the turning points in the game was when Josh Johnson fumbled the snap to end the drive, and then two plays later you had the big play to Tyler Boyd. How big was that?
"I think that was a major point in the game. I think it was third-and-one if I'm not mistaken, and they were probably going to go for it, but they didn't get it, and that fumbled exchange really set them back. We'll take what we can get in that situation, but certainly we felt like that was a big momentum play there, and our guys touched him down, and he was down. And like you said, two plays later, TB hit the big play from Burrow. So it was a big moment in the game."
Your decision to go for it on fourth-and-one, after Joe Mixon had been stoned, and you go for it. Same call it looked like, and you got the touchdown ...
"We were just in there tight, and it felt like we had to be able to get that. So we just dialed it up, and they got us in."
Why did you think you needed it at that point?
"It's a mindset thing at that moment. It's fourth-and-goal on the one yard line. If we can't get it then, we don't deserve any points."
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."
With two games to play, what have you learned about your team to date?
"They're going to fight. It's been a crazy NFL season. There's a lot of adversity that comes at you in a lot of different ways. We do a lot of positive things, and sometimes people just want to talk about the negatives, but we've powered through it all, and found the positives, and kept building on it, and kept believing in each other, and believing in the coaches, and the coaches believing in the players. And everything is right there in front of us going into January. We're happy about that, but we're not content yet."
JOE BURROW, Quarterback
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."
For you personally, does a franchise-record performance mean anything to you?
"It means a lot to the whole team. It's not just a reflection of me. It's a reflection of the offensive line, the receivers, the coaching staff and how we went out and executed today, and that's exciting."
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."
What is your reaction to Zac Taylor wanting you to throw the ball away on that play?
"My reaction is not to scramble and throw the ball away, but if the opportunity presents itself, game instincts kind of take over. I looked to my left and nobody was open, so I was turning to my right to throw the ball away, and then there's a hole right there so I went to the hole and I saw Joe Mixon down the field so I threw it to Joe Mixon down the field."
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."
Do you think Tee Higgins is emerging as one of the best wide receivers in the NFL?
"Absolutely. In the last four or five weeks Tee's been unbelievable with the way he's catching the ball. I've never really seen anything like it with the way he's catching the ball with strong hands. It's awesome."
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."
You were completing about 89 percent of your passes in the first half...
"Zac called a great game and I knew where I was going with the ball and receivers did a great job. So did our offensive line."
Right before the long pass to Tee Higgins, Brandon Allen came out on the field saying something to you. Did he say anything that helped on that play?
"The only time I remember Brandon Allen coming out was he was yelling the play to me. The headset went out of my helmet. That's the only thing I can remember."
I think it was before that...
"I can't answer that one because I can't remember."
How long was your headset out?
"It was in the first half after the long one to Tee right before the end of the first half. The headset went out so I called the next play on my own. They reviewed it and then I got a different helmet. So I ended up calling one. They reviewed that play so I was able to get a different helmet."
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."
Is this game ball going in your trophy case next to the Heisman Trophy in your basement?
"No, I don't think so. The Heisman is a little more impressive to me."
Zac Taylor said the team is trying to develop a killer instinct. Do you think this team has that?
"We're getting there, we're getting there. Today I was really excited about how aggressive we were after we got up because we've had some points in the year where we get up a couple touchdowns, three scores and such, and we get less aggressive. It's tough. We stayed aggressive today. We were able to score every time we touched the ball."
There is killer instinct and finishing games. Is this more about finishing games the right way?
"Those two comments are one in the same. Some games you're going to have to throw the ball when you're up like today, and other games you go out and run the ball down their throats like we did against Pittsburgh a couple weeks ago that sealed the game. It depends on what kind of game."
Did they get around to picking a poison (defensively) against you?
"I thought we did run the ball well today when we did. We didn't do it a ton but we were really efficient when we did."
Did you ever hit 525 yards passing before, maybe in high school?
"Maybe, I'm not sure. Probably. I threw for a ton of yards in high school. Who knows? I probably did."
Did you think you could do this against a good defense?
"I really don't think about the yards too much. I'm just as happy throwing for 130 yards against the Raiders and going out and winning the game, so whatever it takes to win a game. Today it took about 525 yards and then some games it takes a couple hundred yards."
How much fun will it be if Kansas City beats Pittsburgh and you take the field next week with a chance to win the division?
"We're right where we want to be. We put ourselves in a chance to be in this position. In training camp we knew what kind of team that we had. We couldn't ask for a better situation right now. We control our destiny these next two games and we've got the division locked."
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."
Where does your love of SpongeBob come from?
"I just loved it growing up. It's what I watched. It's a great show. That's all I got."
Did Joe Mixon give you the ball after 500?
"The refs needed the ball to spot it, but Joe brought it to me. That was fun."
So before the final series you guys were aware of it (500 yards)?
JOE MIXON, Halfback
Was that fun?
"Oh yeah, it's always fun winning. Came out here, took care of business, and answered the bell."
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."
Something Zac Taylor said after the game was that you guys needed to develop a killer instinct. Was today an example of that?
"Oh yeah, for sure. Sometimes we take the field, and our defense got a three-and-out, or we held them to three, and then our offense just (drove) down, doing the things we needed to do, making team plays, taking care of the football. That's what we harped on all week these past two weeks, was really taking care of the football. Because when you take care of the football, great things happen. So that's pretty much how it is."
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."
TEE HIGGINS, Wide receiver
How'd it feel to put up a career day for yourself?
"So good. First time I'd ever gone for 190. So yeah, it feels great."
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."
You got to watch it a lot on the replay when they were looking at it. Were you wondering what exactly had happened and if you did have the catch?
"No, I knew I caught it."
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."
What do you think is the biggest reason that you've been able to have the big second half of the season that you've had?
"I'm just locked in. The first half I was battling injuries, and I was playing nervous with the injuries — I'm not trying to get hurt again. And I just told myself I needed to get into the game. So far, it's been pretty good."
TREY HENDRICKSON, Defensive end
How does it feel to get to 14 sacks for the season, second-most in franchise history?
"I'm incredibly thankful. This whole week, I've just been thankful. I've said it once, and I'll say it again, I'm a very blessed man. My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has taken great care of me and my family. You rush with guys like Sam Hubbard, Larry Ogunjobi and D.J. (Reader). He wasn't there today, but man, we sure felt it from afar. It's just great, you know. With everything that we're doing as a defense, and winning games, these are the goals that we set back in camp. I can't say enough about this coaching staff here. I'm really just thankful."
Even though 14 sacks isn't technically the team record, do you kind of feel like it is?
"I don't play for those kinds of things. I'm a product of this defense. I'm a product of good coaching. I'm a product of hard work. Anything that comes to me is just a byproduct of all those things. I know how much work my wife and I put in off the field. She's my rock and my supporter. Franchise record or not, I'm very blessed to be here playing for this defense and keep rolling in the win column."
Sack totals can come in bunches. For you to have at least a half sack in 11 straight games, what does that say about you?
"It's not just me. Sacks can't come if we're not having coverage, and so I can't say enough about the guys in the back end. The guys I'm rushing with on the defensive line, they're giving me opportunities to have success. I know you guys see a lot of one-man stats, but they're for a collective 11-man team. Like I said, I'm blessed to be a part of this brotherhood."
How's your back? We saw you going in and out of the game throughout the day ...
"Football's a physical sport. They want to make sure I'm OK. I want to make sure I'm OK — especially for my wife, too. I'm okay, and we'll keep this thing rolling."
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."
You've won two games in a row three times this year, but you haven't won three. If the Steelers lose today and you win next week, you win the division. What would that mean?
"I don't look at tendencies like that either. We'll evaluate the season at the end of the year. But I know how important the next win is for this organization, and I know how important it is for us as a football team and where we want to go. We're playing a good opponent in Kansas City. It speaks for itself. It's a big week .We're going to 'flush' this film tomorrow when we watch it, and we'll prepare accordingly."
Can you sense the energy from the crowd? They haven't been in a spot like this for years ...
"I hope the crowd recognizes that we're hungry for it. I really do think that we're playing for something that's important to us and for them, so I hope they recognize how hard we're working and how we're putting together these game plans and executing our assignments for our brothers next to us and for this city."
View the best game action photos from the Bengals hosting the Baltimore Ravens in Week 16 of the 2021 NFL season.