CINCINNATI BENGALS | HEAD COACH ZAC TAYLOR
Can you talk about the second half performance by Brandon Allen on the offense? He had a career high passing yards, and you guys scored on every single possession in the second half.
"Tremendous, you know. And that was Brandon (Allen). Brandon was throwing with a ton of anticipation. He was doing a great job seeing the coverages, taking his check-downs when he had to. Really impressed by how he played. Really impressed with the guys around him too, the linemen. I can't remember, other than the last play of the game, him taking a hit, when he kept that ball on the keeper. I just thought a really nice job by those guys up front keeping him clean. The run game wasn't always pretty, but those guys did a good job finding some holes and getting the game going for us."
For you all to win this type of game, you had to come back there in the fourth quarter with the backup quarterback for the first road win since 2018. What does it say that you all were able to win this type of game?
"Just tells you everything you have to know about the character and resolve of this football team. Like I told them, we practiced in 10-degree weather on Christmas day to come down and play a game in Houston. Not one guy, I didn't hear one guy complain about it. They all knew we had to get some work done before we had to come play this big game. Just couldn't be prouder of the work they put here in Week 16. We're out of the playoff hunt. It's easy for guys to check out right now, and we haven't had a single player do it. Just proud to coach these guys."
You always mentioned moving in the right direction. Now to see that result twice in one week, how gratifying is that for you in this locker room?
"Extremely. These guys deserve it for the work they put in. I see it every day. The world doesn't see it because on Sundays we haven't always had games go the way we want, but I get to see it the six other days of the week. We knew that moments like these were coming, and we've just got to continue to build off of it. Winning two games in a row is really insignificant in this NFL, but it is significant for us right now, just everybody seeing what we've been through. It means a lot to these guys and something to build off of."
What does it mean that other guys stepped up, like Samaje Perine, Brandon Allen, guys like that stepping up the way they did, what does that mean to you?
"Yeah, because football is important to them. Helping their teammates in any way is important to them. We have a huge collection of guys like that, and you can count on them to do their job and do it effectively and carry us through games like this."
How do you think it affected your defense when Will went out? I don't know if it's coincidence or not, but they started to get on a roll when he went out of the game.
"We sure did. Will's (Jackson III) a good corner, and DeShaun Watson is one of the best football players I've ever seen in my lifetime. I knew that going into this game. I knew it was going to be difficult. There was going to be moments on defense where it was going to be tough. He's done it to a lot of people over the last several years. So losing the starting corner at that point was tough, because this guy can extend plays and get first downs with his feet, and he can throw it a mile. He's got a great receiver in Brandin Cooks that can go get it. They can put you in a lot of tough spots. I did think it hurt us when Will went down."
How did you think your tackles played? It sounds like J.J. Watt -- we didn't hear his name very much. It looked like you used more tight ends than usual?
"Not so fast, Jeff, but I thought that our tackles did a great job. I probably had my eyes on (J.J.) Watt about every significant play where we were throwing the ball down the field. Our tight ends also did an excellent job too. They got matched up with him sometimes. That was one of our keys to victory was controlling 99, and I thought that our guys really, really did a great job stepping up when their number was called and helping Brandon (Allen) and the backs have some time back there."
How much did the early screen game maybe help slow that down a little bit? Because you had some success early on.
"That was the plan, to show them a lot of different things. They had some younger defensive ends over there on the left side that we wanted to see how they were going to play and what their style was. I thought our guys did a real good job executing that stage of the offense."
What does that say about your defense? The offense obviously had a really good day. The defense was struggling a bit, but they responded when they really, really needed it.
"That's life. You're going to face adversity in different parts of the game. They played pretty good in the first half, and obviously the third quarter, fourth quarter didn't go the way they wanted, but we just needed them to make one stop there. They did a great job. Sam (Hubbard) got to the quarterback, and I think Margus (Hunt) recovered that ball. That was a huge moment in the game for us. Again, things don't always go perfectly. Those guys are on scholarship too on the other team, and our guys stepped up and made the play when they needed it."
Brandon Allen made the three straight deep passes in the third quarter. Was that kind of a flipping of the switch moment for him? What did you, I guess, see from him in that stretch?
"He did a really nice job. Again, seeing the coverage on the throw to Alex Erickson down the middle. We hit that same play Wednesday or Thursday in practice. Same look, same play. Those guys did a great job connecting. I thought A.J. (Green) and Tee (Higgins) had a lot of confidence outside going down the field, and we were able to feature them and hit some balls down the field, and those guys did a great job competing for the ball."
What can you say about Tee Higgins? He's now 92 yards away from hitting 1,000 yards in his rookie season with different quarterbacks, no matter who's been out there. What can you say about his play this season?
"He's not -- being around him, it doesn't feel like you're around a rookie. He feels like he has -- matured is not the right word. He's had the right focus since day one and just really been fun to watch him, the confidence that he has as he gets through the season. He's made plays against everybody in this league. Just he's got an extremely bright future. His approach is tremendous. Where we got him when we got him in the second round is unbelievable now that you look back on it, but we're lucky to have him."
I recognize you're going to hopefully have a chance to win a third game in a row. Do you believe in carryover from the end of one season to the beginning of the next? If so, what would you like to see carrying over from this team?
"It doesn't hurt. Just closing out games in these significant moments. We've had plenty of games where things don't go your way, and we need someone to step up and make that play. Really the play that Sam (Hubbard) made, we've been in that moment several times over the last two years, and they've driven down and scored a field goal or whatever it was, but that needs to be a turning point for us. Where Sam made that play, and now other guys build off of that. That's exactly what we're looking for, those key situational moments in the game, our guys stepping up and making the plays. And I do think -- we know we've got our work cut out for us. It's a very strong team. We know what they did to us the first time we played them. Our guys will be ready to play, and it's a great opportunity for us next week."
The formula seems to be you did against Tennessee, when you beat them, no quarterback sacks, no turnovers. I mean, that seems to be play a clean game like that, you're going to score a lot of points.
"Yeah, it's not rocket science. You protect the ball, and you create turnovers. You win the turnover battle, and you're going to win close games like this. So winning the turnover battle 1-0. Again, the line did a great job, and Brandon (Allen) did a really good job getting the ball out of his hands and not forcing tough plays. That's a recipe for success."
Did you go with feel with Samaje Perine? I know Gio Bernard had the 25 carries on Monday. Was that more of a feel thing with Samaje?
"Yeah, it's just the rhythm of the game. We have faith in both those guys and Trayveon (Williams) also. Sometimes it's just getting the flow of the game. We've got faith in any of those guys carrying the ball. We just rolling them through, and they're productive for us, and we keep it going."
QB BRANDON ALLEN
When you woke up this morning, did you feel like it's going to be one of those days? Did you feel like everything you threw is going to be on point and putting in small windows, the way you played today?
"Yeah, I think I always kind of feel that way going into a game, that I'm going to make all the throws that I need to. Obviously, it's never going to happen, and you need to hit as many as you can. I always wake up on game day with the confidence that we're going to make all the plays we need to to win the game."
Take us through the progression of early you were attacking the sidelines with the outside passing game, the screen game, the quick game, all that. Then it progressed to ripping down the football field and attacking the middle of the field. How did that progression take place? What did you get them doing?
"I think early on they wanted to play a little bit of soft cover three. Obviously in that area, you want to throw it outside. Then they started mixing in some two, and that's when we were able to hit Alex Erickson down the middle. I think kind of the rest of the game they started mixing in between cover three, man, and cover two. So, really we had just some good progression plays where you can decipher what they're going to be in and you know exactly where you need to go with the football."
Was this the best game, you believe, in your career?
"Yeah, I think I've had a couple bad games too, so I'll take this with a grain of salt and just keep trying to get better."
Check out some of the best images from the Bengals Week 16 matchup against the Houston Texans.
Do you have a favorite throw from the game? I mean, you hit some deep ones that this team hasn't been able to do. Do you have one that maybe is your favorite instant reaction?
"You know, I thought one of the biggest plays – I don't know if it would be my favorite, but one of the biggest plays we had was the third and – I don't know what it was. Third and like 10 or 12 or something like that, and A.J. (Green) made that contested catch on the sideline, and then we were able to hit two shots from there. So, really him making that aggressive hands catch on really tight coverage and getting us the first down is what really got us going during that second half and getting those big shots down the field. Without him making that play, I don't think we get those big shots. We don't get a chance to."
It looked like you and WR A.J. Green were looking to get to each other early, were able to get that connection late. What have you seen out of him in your time playing with him over these last several weeks?
"Yeah, continuing to be on the same page with A.J. Obviously, early on, missed two balls I should have got to him down the field. I just needed to make better throws on those, but like I said, the more and more that I'm able to throw to him and get the timing and the way he wins leverages and things on certain routes, then I can be better and give him a better football."
Can you talk about the way WR Alex Erickson stepped up for you today?
"Yeah, Alex was huge. Obviously, you love having a player like Tyler (Boyd) out there, but when your number's called you've got to step up and perform well, and Alex obviously has been doing it for a few years now. He's Mr. Reliable, really. You can put him, I would say, anywhere on the field, and he's going to be in the right spot, run the right route, do what he needs to do, and on the big one he caught down the middle, that's a play where he has to see the coverage and know exactly what to do on his route. He did it perfectly and we were able to give him the ball."
To win twice in one week, how big is that for the confidence to see proof that you guys are moving in the right direction?
"Yeah, there's never been a question within this team of us moving the right direction. Like you said, there have been a few games where we're literally one play away from it being a win, and so those are tough, but you have to be able to move on and approach the next week like you're going to win it again. I think you kind of can just see in these last two weeks that this team knows how close it can be, and we've finally been able to have two really good games and put them together and get wins. We can just take that momentum and move it forward."
Is there some vindication for you to be able to win both of these game this week knowing that no one really gave you a shot?
"There's always going to be that side of things that you really try not to pay too much attention to, I guess. Obviously, we put together a great game last week with Ryan in there, and he played perfectly for that style of game and got a big win there. Then I think him getting that win against the Steelers really gave guys such a boost of confidence, and then even this week, going into this week, I think there was such a high level of confidence that we can beat any team we go play. I think we're such a connected team in that locker room, and we kind of keep all that other outside noise right where it is, outside."
What do you like about this offense and what it allows you to do?
"I think this offense, it's very similar to the offense I came from from L.A., so I was already pretty familiar with it when I got here, which helped a smooth transition when I first got here, kind of already understanding reads and understanding certain play calls and things like that. So, I think it was smooth in that area. It's really good about making certain plays look identical but it being a different play. One could be a run, and one could be a play-action pass and one's a play-action screen, and it all looks the same to the defense. I think there's so many things you can do with this offense. It's very quarterback friendly. If you can run it, you find completions, and the completions are going to get you moving down the field, which you kind of saw today. You don't always have to have that big shot as long as you're playing smart, and obviously the run game was on point today, and that obviously helps. Any time you can get the multiple dimensions of the offense going, you can be explosive and win a lot of games."
This is a hard question to answer less than an hour after the game, but how big is this game for you and your future, whether it's in Cincinnati or somewhere else?
"I don't know. We'll see. Obviously, I do love it here in Cincinnati. I'm really, right now, just focused on next week now after this big win and getting ready for the Ravens, obviously not being an easy game. So that's kind of where my focus is going to right now."