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The Conversation: 3 Catches To Pass T.J., Tyler Boyd Tries to Grab Another Bengals Playoff Berth Back Home In Pittsburgh

WR Tyler boyd runs the ball during the Bengals-Ravens game during Thursday Night Football on November 16, 2023.
WR Tyler boyd runs the ball during the Bengals-Ravens game during Thursday Night Football on November 16, 2023. senior writer Geoff Hobson did this week at Paycor Stadium what the Vikings couldn't do in overtime last Saturday and stopped Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd. The longest-tenured Bengal who has caught touchdown passes from five different quarterbacks and broken up a game with a sixth, Boyd reflected on his career and this season as he returns home to Pittsburgh this Saturday (4:30 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 5) for a playoff atmosphere game against the Steelers on that Acrisure Stadium field he knows so well.

GH: That wild 44-yarder in overtime was your 505th NFL catch, all as Bengal. Where does it rank?

TB: I wouldn't put it in my top five, but it's definitely one of my plays to remember because of the timing of the play and the situation to get the win.

GH: Such an amazing catch with about three bodies screening you. Concentration, right?

TB: Yeah. At that point, third down you always have to think you're going to get hit anyway on the catch, so why not catch it and get hit? If you drop it, you're still going to get hit. At the end of the day, just go in there and try to catch the ball.

GH: What is in your top five? I'm guessing the play in Baltimore is the top one. (The fourth-and-12 touchdown from 49 yards out with 44 seconds left in the 2017 season that gave the Bengals a 31-27 win and knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs.)

TB: Yeah. The top one. I can't really give you a top-five unless I go back and watch a few things. That Baltimore one is definitely the golden one for me. I would say (Saturday's) play is in my top ten. Like I said, the situation and how it happened and what it helped the team do.

GH: That catch was two years to the week of the 15-10 win in Denver you had a 56-yard touchdown that erased Denver's 10-9 lead with 30 seconds left in the third quarter that began the December winning streak that is now nine and started the Super Bowl drive.

TB: That one is up there, too, because without that we probably lose because it was the only touchdown in the game. That's probably why it's in my top.

GH: It always seems like you prided yourself on your hands and reliability ever since you arrived in the second round of the 2016 Draft.

TB: Reliable and just making that go-ahead play to secure a win is the most important factor when I'm looking at some of my top plays throughout the years.

GH: With your third catch Saturday you'll pass T.J. Houshmandzadeh into fourth place on the Bengals all-time list. Fitting against the Steelers because T.J. had big games against Pittsburgh.

TB: To even be in the same conversation with those guys is big. But it shows how reliable and durable I've been through these years and still be able to play this game at a high level and starting to surpass great players like TJ. It's surreal. But I'm very appreciative of that and I'm going to keep working hard.

GH: Do you remember TJ playing against the Steelers?

TB: All the time.

GH: Were you a hater?

TB: Aaah, nah. I didn't hate him.

GH: Even though he stepped on the Terrible Towel?

TB: Aah. It's the heat of battle. I wasn't a big Steelers fan anyway, so it really didn't …

GH: Who were you a fan of?

TB: The Chargers growing up.

GH: Why?

TB: LT (Pro Football Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson). He was my guy.

GH: What's it like always going back to play on a field where you played some of your games for Clairton High School and all your college games?

TB: It just always reminds me how I made it to this point. I played on that field at every level of my life. Each and every time I go on that field, I go down memory lane. I just think about all the things I've accomplished and why I'm here.

GH: Compared to eight years ago when you were coming out of Pitt, do you think people have a different view of you?

TB: At each level I went to, I kind of felt like I had to play with a chip on my shoulder because a lot of people disrespected me. They didn't believe I could do it. Even in high school. I went to a small school. They didn't think I was able to play with the guys I was going to play with in college at Pitt and then when I got here it was, 'Oh you played at Pitt, the league is not going to be like that.' Every time I went to the next level, I always had doubters, but at the end of the day you have to prove them wrong.

GH: You've played with more quarterbacks than anybody in here. You've caught touchdowns from Joe Burrow, Andy Dalton, Jeff Driskel, Ryan Finley, and Brandon Allen. You've seen it all. What's it like playing with Jake Browning?

TB: Oh man. It's good. Not too many  of the backups come in with so much confidence as Jake. He takes command of the offense and he just feels very poised and it feels like he's been here before. Obviously, he's been under Joe's shadow and just learning things from him and (Bengals head coach) Zac (Taylor), so I felt that when his opportunity would come that he'd done more than enough to be ready and polished. Now as the weeks and weeks go by, you can feel it. The camaraderie we've built around him and what he brings to the table.

GH: You've also developed a great connection with Burrow, but even before these two guys got here you had two 1,000-yard seasons.

TB: You have to make it work. At the end of the day, you have to stay the course. A lot of things might not go your way. I didn't feel like things were going my way this season. But at some point, it's going to change and look good for me. There are going to be times I might not have too many catches and too many yards. But there might be a week I go for 100 yards. Or maybe a touchdown. That's just life. Things don't always go your way, but you always have to be ready when your number is called.

GH: Wide receivers coach Troy Walters talked about that. How you were always ready Saturday even though the offense is using fewer three-receiver sets for pass pro purposes and that was cutting into your snaps before Ja'Marr Chase got hurt. In the last couple of games your snaps have been as low as they've been in six years. It doesn't seem to bother you. Extremely unselfish.

TB: No. At the end of the day I want to go and make plays for my team. It sucks to not play as much and get certain plays. But like you said, I'm an unselfish player and like I say, I'm available and when they need me or call on me, I'm always going to be there and be able to make a play.

GH: You've come back from that drop in the end zone in the last minute against Houston last month in a game they went back down and scored the winning field goal. Knowing how much pride you take in your hands and your reliability, you had to be sick to your stomach.

TB: Yeah. It was the game-winning touchdown. I make that play nine times out of ten. We win. They still had a little bit of time. They still drove down the field. So whether I caught it or not, we still could have been in a dogfight, but the situation doesn't matter to me. If my number is called and I have to make the play, I feel like I'll always make that play, so I kind of took it tough. It's football, man. You're going to live to fight  another day.

GH: It looked like you took your eye off it.

TB: Yeah. Just got too relaxed.

GH: Troy said you were miserable after the game, but then the next day you were ready to play.

TB: One thing about me, I'm not going to keep sobbing over something that I know isn't me. I know I'm better than that. I can't harp on things. You can't drag things out because it's going to ruin how you perform the next week. The faster you get over it the better you perform.

GH: Your daughter Taylen is something like seven now …

TB: Ten.

GH: Ten? That went fast. I remember when I first met you guys and your mother right after that '16 draft at the amusement place (Kennywood Park) in Pittsburgh and she was fired up to meet Doc McStuffins. She's going to remember coming to watch you play.

TB: Yeah. She loves it. She loves coming to the games and watching. She'll probably be at this game depending on the weather. I tried to get a suite, but I don't think they have any more. Worst case scenario she just has to dress warm. I think its going to be about 55 degrees for the  game. Not too bad.

GH: Does she ask you about plays?

TB: No, she doesn't know about all that. She knows if I score or catch the ball.

GH: What do you guys do when you're not playing football?

TB: I like to take her to do stuff and get out of the house. Sky zone. Maybe a spa. Maybe Kennywood. Anything fun. She likes to be out and about doing things just like myself. I kind of hate staying in one spot. I can't sit still.

GH: She still likes Kennywood?

TB: Loves it. Loves it. Swimming. If you've got a pool, she'll just come over and get in the pool.

GH: Right now, what is Tyler Boyd's legacy as a Bengal, realizing it is still being written and decisions have to be made next year?

TB: I definitely want to be remembered as a Bengal. I played the most here. I've been here eight years. If I go somewhere else, I don't see myself playing another eight years. I'm very grateful. I just want people to know how much work I put into this organization from top to bottom. The ups and downs. Us being good. Us being bad. I always stood tall and took  whatever came with it and never quit on anybody and always was real about everything I stood by.

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