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Playoff Quote Board: O-Line Pride; Ballhawks; Midseason Transformation; Sample, Morgan Doubtful; Tupou Questionable

Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Jonah Williams (73) defends against the New York Jets during an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Jonah Williams (73) defends against the New York Jets during an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Best of the Zoom news conferences on Friday before the Bengals hit the road for Sunday's (3 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) AFC championship game in Kansas City.


After the Titans' nine-sack performance Saturday, the offensive line looks to be better against Kansas City.

Left tackle Jonah Williams:"At this point in the playoffs, every team we play is going to have really good guys up front. So (the) Chiefs are no different. They have good players on the edge and in the interior. They cause some issues with their scheme in terms of being disruptive.

"They're a good front and we have to have a good plan for them and I think we do so we just have to go ahead and execute this weekend.

"The message every week is to protect our quarterback and be effective on offense. It's the same message this week. We just need to do a better job across the board of executing our protections and everything that goes along with that. That's the challenge for us this week and every week moving forward is just executing our jobs.

"It's never a good feeling as an O-line to give up a number of sacks in the game. We don't really swing emotionally based on the discourse publicly. We know what our job is. We show up every day and focus in meetings and grind it out at practice to be better on Sunday. So that's our mindset this week. It's our mindset every week and that's what we're going to do."


The Bengals defense prides itself on being near the football. It paid off against the Titans when linebacker Logan Wilson intercepted a tipped ball to set up the winning drive.

Cornerback Eli Apple:"We just have a lot of hungry guys on the defense. Everybody's trying to get to the ball and make plays and impact the game as best as they can. If we get 11 hats on the ball consistently, we'll limit explosive plays and be able to (make) big plays like that tipped pick. Definitely kudos to everybody running to the ball."

Head coach Zac Taylor:"Our defense has won a lot of games this year for us. At other times they have put us in a position to get back in a rhythm on offense. They've done a great job."


Burrow is the ultimate competitor and he gets better as the stakes get higher. In his last five games Burrow has completed 75.3 percent of his passes for 1,720 yards, 11 touchdowns and a pick. 

Burrow: "These (big games) are the reason that I play football. I play to get to these moments and to make plays and take advantage of my opportunity. 

"I think that would be tough for me mentally to work as hard as I do each week in the offseason to come in and go .500 every year and be a fringe playoff team. I worked so hard so I can get into these moments and play well."


EDGE Cam Sample aggravated his groin against Tennessee on Saturday and never practiced this week. Wide receiver Stanley Morgan, Jr., (hamstring), shelved in the playoffs, returned to practice this week limited but didn't work Friday. Both are doubtful. Defensive tackle Josh Tupou (knee) could go just five snaps Saturday, went limited all week and is listed as questionable.


It turns out Burrow gets excited the night before an NFL Sunday like the rest of us.

Burrow: "I would call it anxious, excited. It's not before the game. I would say the night before the game. When I'm thinking about all the possible situations, but once game time comes, pregame warmups, I'm loose, confident and ready to go.

"It's pretty relaxing for me up until around bedtime. When I start to get to myself and (I'm) not around the guys anymore, starting to think about the next day. I'm just by myself in my hotel room. Then I go to sleep and then that's over with, and then its game day and then the lights turn on."


Burrow and the Bengals flipped the script on the 'Why Not Us' mentality on Saturday.

Williams: "I appreciate the idea behind the 'Why Not Us' slogan. I get it. But I think that as a competitor, (Burrow) made a great point in saying that's not really what the idea you want in your head when you step in the ring. It's not, 'Why can't I knock this guy out?' It's, 'I'm going to knock this guy out.' It's a much more powerful attitude to have.

"At this point, this season, we've earned the right to step on the field feeling that way. I love that Joe said that and I think the whole team has that mentality and is bought into it."


For a lot of the players, this is the biggest game of their career but they're not shying away from the moment.

Apple:"It's a huge opportunity for everybody to definitely make their place in history. We know the opportunity, doesn't always come and it's not always guaranteed every year. So you just want to make the best of it and put yourself in position, to make plays when they come to you.

"(We have to) take it one play at a time and making plays that come to you. Limit the explosives and make sure everybody communicates and gets lined up. (It is) just the little things and details that make a big difference. All of that shows up."


Some people wrote off the Bengals after they dropped two straight games to the Jets and Cleveland. But Taylor saw a lot more than that.

Taylor: "We went to Vegas and I just felt the whole flight there, watching our guys in the hotel, watching them in the pregame warmups, how they played. They weren't affected by the previous games, win or lose. They had a ton of confidence in themselves. I really think that that has carried over. 

"We were a good football team, I thought before the bye. I think we've played much better ball since the bye. Even though we didn't win every single game, we lost three of them. I really felt that confidence in the team kind of hit the next level there and it's allowed us to get to where we're at now.

"I think the biggest why is because these players all work hard, all 53 of them. They've got that confidence in themselves. There's no hoping. It's not a guy that's not putting in the work and he hopes he goes out Sunday and plays well. These guys know that they're capable of playing well because of the work that they put in.

"I think that's why we just have such a strong group of guys and they play off each other that way (and) that allows for that to be our mindset."


Taylor recalled a moment he and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan had early in their Bengals tenure. 

Taylor: "We were getting ready to play the Rams, I think Week eight or Week nine, that first year and it was hard. It was a hard day game plan week, preparing for (defensive tackle) Aaron Donald and all the problems that come with him. We hadn't won a game and Brian and I wrote on my dry erase board. We put the date, we put the time as Tuesday night at maybe 1 a.m. 

"I don't think we had a play on our call sheet done, which normally we have the whole call sheet done. We hadn't figured out a plan for Aaron Donald and I wrote up on my board, 'Hey, remember when.' There's going to be a day where we reflect back on this moment that we're having right now, struggling to get a yard on a game plan call sheet, and we're going to say, 'Hey, remember when we couldn't even figure out a way to get a yard against the LA Rams?'

"Trust me. I look at that every day. Brian sees that."


Burrow's father Jimmy tweeted a photo of a young Joe wearing a Chiefs helmet and said he used to be a fan. Burrow was born in Ames, Iowa, where Jimmy was a high school coach.

Burrow: "I was probably a Chiefs fan before I could remember being a Chiefs fan. I was probably too young to remember all that. But, I still have that little plastic helmet in my room back home."