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What Joe Burrow, Zac Taylor And The Bengals Said After The AFC Wild Card Win Over The Raiders

Quarterback Joe Burrow pumps his fist in the air following the Bengals 26-19 win over the Las Vegas Raiders in the AFC Wild Card.
Quarterback Joe Burrow pumps his fist in the air following the Bengals 26-19 win over the Las Vegas Raiders in the AFC Wild Card.

ZAC TAYLOR, Head coach

Initial comments ...

Can you take us through the fourth down stop the defense made to win the game for you today?

       "Germaine Pratt — you know, it was really all those guys, but with Germaine (making that interception), I thought it was very fitting because he's been a guy that's been all about taking the ball away all season. He got the one earlier in the season against Minnesota, and he's done it multiple times. He's always a guy that when we watch the tape, he's trying to punch the ball out, rake it out, whatever he's got to do. So for him to get the pick on the last play of the game, it's really just fitting of what he's been all about. He finished it off for us the right way."

What was that last 6:46 of the game like for you, when you go up by 10 points but knew the Raiders would probably make one last charge?

       "Sure. They're a good team. We knew they could move the ball. They have a ton of weapons, and their offensive line was playing really good. So again, we figured it was going to be tight there at the end. But I had confidence our guys would make plays, and they sure enough did."

How does it feel to have the Bengals' first playoff win in 31 years?

       "I'm happy for the city. I think the city can finally exhale. I get that. We haven't felt that pressure, I'll be quite honest — me maybe more so than the players, because I'm out more in the offseason and talk to people who have been here a long time. But I don't think the players ever felt that. I'm just really, really happy for the city of Cincinnati, and hope they get a chance to enjoy this. And now, we'll just exhale and enjoy the ride, because we're not done yet."

Was it part of the game plan to target Ja'Marr Chase as much as you did today? He and Joe Burrow had another great performance today ...

       "It's always part of the game plan to target Ja'Marr Chase. It was never forced. There was not one ball that was forced there — there's always options. He just made the most of his opportunities. We trust in Joe. I've never really felt this season at all that Joe's forced a ball to a particular receiver because he wants to get a guy going. We've just got a tremendous group of receivers, and Joe just trusts whoever is on the field will make the play."

When things get close, what is it like to have a quarterback like Joe Burrow?

       "We've got all the faith in the world in Joe, so there's never any panic on our end. Had they been down seven at the end of the game and scored there to tie it, and then we'd have had to kick a field goal to win it, I promise you my heart rate would have been as easy as could be because we trust our players and someone is going to step up and win that game for us. I wasn't surprised when it happened."

What did you think of the TD pass to Tyler Boyd on the scramble, when he nearly went out of bounds?

       "Yeah, that's what you expect from the number one pick in the draft. Plays like that, you can't explain. It's making a play when there's no play to be made. Joe Burrow's the kind of guy who can make those types of plays. It's pretty impressive."

Did you hear the whistle on that play?

       "I definitely never heard a whistle on that play."

We've talked in the past about Joe throwing the ball away on scrambles like the one he made to Boyd for the TD. Did you initially think he should have thrown it away in that moment?

       "I think I've learned ... I went through it last year, and there's probably been moments this year. But the more I've been around, I've learned to just shut my mouth and let the magic occur."

You've avoided the injury bug for the most part throughout the year, but tonight you lose Larry Ogunjobi and Trey Hendrickson — two very important players. How proud are you for the way your defense stepped up in their absence?

       "Really proud. We also lost Mike Hilton there for a couple plays, and we lost Mike Daniels on the first drive of the game. So the stress of having just two defensive tackles when Larry went down is difficult. In that case, I'm just really proud of D.J. (Reader) and B.J. (Hill) for doing a great job holding the fort down. They're two well-conditioned guys that just go out there and do their job. The guys kind of rally around them and pick them up."

On the interception by Pratt, what defensive package were you playing?

       "Just our bread and butter coverage. I won't get into the exact call, but it's what we hang our hat on and what we play more times than anything else. He just made a good play."

How much have you seen Pratt progress in pass coverage this year?

       "Germaine has made a really big step this year. I thought last year was a good step for him, and this year he's made a tremendous jump. He's been super reliable for us and just consistent."

Is there anything that occurred perhaps over the course of the season that helped you gut this win out today?

       "It feels like we've played in a lot of tight games, win or lose. It's difficult to get them all, but the 49ers game, the Broncos game — this kind of felt like the Denver Broncos game where we had to punt the ball back and needed a stop. We got a quick lead in the Broncos game, and this one took a little bit longer. I just think playing all these meaningful, tight December and January games, it just pays off for us at this point."

Go inside the locker room and field level to celebrate with the Bengals following the 26-19 win over the Las Vegas Raiders in the AFC Wild Card round.

You had a 40 percent conversion rate in the red zone today. Was there a consistency issue or different things that stopped that from being higher?

       "It's tough. It was tough for me to find a rhythm there, to be quite honest with you, to get us into the best stuff. It was disappointing, because we scored on our first five drives of the game. But like you said, it didn't feel like we had enough points on the board. I just put that more on me, trying to find a rhythm there in the red zone."

On the fourth and short before kicking a field goal to make the game 26-16, did you think about going for it at all, or were you just trying to get the Raiders to jump offside for the first down?

       "Only if we had the right look. I just put that on Joe. It wasn't the right look, so he just called a timeout."

You mentioned being calm. What is it about your team and you as a coach that enables you to be calm in big moments in games like this?

       "We've got just too many tremendous players. These guys play so well together that you're not worried about guys making (mistakes). (The Raiders) are going to make big plays — they've got great players. But I just feel like our guys understood the moment, and they've been able to make the plays we needed.

Did or are you giving out any game balls?

       "Yeah, sure did. We gave two game balls. The first one is to (Bengals president) Mike Brown, just because there's no one who's more passionate about this team, this organization. There's no owner that sits at every walk through, at every practice in the freezing cold, the rain, the snow. This means the world to him. Some of the players know him better than others. But the coaches and myself, we just owe so much to that man for being patient with us. Personally, if I coached in any other organization in football, I probably wouldn't be here right now in my third year. That's the truth. But he's just got the experience and understanding, and because he's around and because of Paul (Brown), Katie and Troy Blackburn, Caroline and Elizabeth (Blackburn) care so much, and they're around and get a chance to hear your vision firsthand on a daily basis. So we're all on the same page. There's no miscommunication. They can see where we need to go, and we're going to get there. They just believe in these players and coaches.

       "The second one is to the city of Cincinnati. We want to start new traditions here with playoff wins where we give game balls to the city and let the fans enjoy it — take selfies with it, whatever it is. We'll figure out how we're going to do that. (Some) people had their greatest moments tonight, so (we want them to) get a chance to enjoy these game balls with us. I told this to the players — Some of them may not understand the significance of this win that happened today, but I know a lot of you in the room who are homegrown Cincinnatians certainly do. Like I said earlier, I think the city can finally exhale and just enjoy this team for what it is and take that pressure off those last 31 years.

       "At the same time, there's just such an incredible history here in Cincinnati. There's Super Bowl appearances, there's conference championships. And really these last two decades, there's been so many tremendous players, teams and coaches that have come through here, and I hope they feel like they're a part of this win today and can enjoy this win, because they really laid the foundation for us to do this. I think today was significant for a lot of people."

What did the vote of confidence coming back for year three do for you going in to the season, and how did it help enable this win tonight?

       "It doesn't change how we approach anything. Because we were all on the same page, we understood the approach we were taking. So again, there wasn't any added pressure. We just went about business as usual, and we've got the right team to put us in position to go on to the second round of the playoffs."

I know you'll be able to say more after watching the tape, but how big was the performance of Jessie Bates III tonight?

       "Yeah, he stood out a lot to me. He made the big play on Renfrow (Raiders WR Hunter Renfrow) on the third down where it got overturned, and I think he had a play in the fourth quarter on a tight end. You're right, I'll certainly know better when I see the tape, but I definitely felt Jessie's presence."

Larry Ogunjobi left the game with a foot injury. Do you have an update on him?

       "I do not."

Did you expect this would be a grind tonight and be on your defense at the end of the game?

       "I visualized that the score would be like the 49ers game, to be honest with you. When I thought about how this game was going to play out, the calls late in the game, whether we were up or down — I expected to be up — you visualize there's going to be a game like that just because of the style of defense they play. It was just very similar, and it wasn't going to surprise me if it came down to a similar (situation) like that."

I'm sure as a coach you tell players there are a bunch of little things or plays at certain moments — like the pass breakup that Mike Hilton had, the aforementioned play Bates had on Renfrow, or Joe Mixon's second effort to get a crucial first down. Do those show just how much the little things matter?

       "There's no question. Like the Kansas City game, like this game — it's going to come down to a foot. It's going to come down to a yard, an inch, or however you want to phrase it. That can mean a lot of different things. It can literally mean, like in the Kansas City game, coming down to an inch or a third-and-one that we did or didn't get, or our defense getting a stop, or someone making a big play. That phrase means a lot of different things, but it just means these games have been tight and every single play matters."

With the guys that got injured tonight, does that justify the approach you took in the last regular season game in Cleveland, with trying to have as many healthy players possible for this game?

       "Yeah, because I felt we were healthy going into the game tonight. We'll wait to see what happens to some of these guys who are out, but I felt like our guys were healthy and gave us a full four quarters."

What makes you believe you guys can enjoy the ride and keep going deep into this postseason?

       "We feel like if we're on top of our game, we can beat any team in this league. We're not afraid of anybody. This team's got a ton of confidence. We always know it's going to be difficult. Whoever we play next, it's going to be a great team, but our guys won't worry about that. We feel like we can put pressure on teams as well. We can be aggressive and teams have to worry about us, and our players really feel that and apply that."

JOE BURROW, Quarterback

How does it feel to deliver something to Cincinnati that they haven't felt in 31 years?

       "Yeah, it felt good. We could've played better on offense in the second half, so that was disappointing. Thought we played really well in the first half, and made plays when we needed to. The defense stepped up in the fourth quarter, so it's an exciting win, and on to the next one."

Did you hear any kind of whistle when you delivered the ball to Tyler Boyd on that touchdown?

       "No I didn't hear any whistle."

In the fourth quarter there was that moment where you needed a drive, so what was the sense in the huddle and on the field in that moment?

       "The whole second half we needed to put points on the board, and we kept kicking field goals instead of scoring touchdowns, and it was disappointing, but we were moving the ball and scoring points, so you can't be too mad about it. But obviously we need to execute better."

Walk us through that touchdown play where you were going to throw it out of bounds, and what did you see to extend it and find Tyler Boyd in the back of the end zone?

       "They dropped eight, and they kind of had a spy on me, so I knew I could sit back in the pocket a little bit. I found a little escape route, and I was telling the guys all week that the big plays would come in scramble situations because they're so good at limiting the big plays, and we kind of turned it around in that situation."

Do you think that play gave you all the cushion you needed in the second half?

       "Yeah, I think it was a big play in the game — a big turning point — but there was still a lot of football left after that."

You told us you had friends and people you knew growing up telling you that the Bengals hadn't won a playoff game, so you knew the history. Is this any extra meaningful for you?

       "It's exciting. It's exciting for the city and the state, but we're not going to be looking forward to who we're going to play next week — we'll be ready to go out and execute the game plan."

On that last field goal drive on third-and-seven, you hit Ja'Marr Chase on a back shoulder throw. What did you see there?

       "Yeah, Ja'Marr (Chase) did a great job at the line creating some separation, and I had somewhere to put it on the back shoulder, and we've hit those all year, so that was a big play in the game."

What makes you so confident on third down with the weapons you have?

       "I think we had a great plan coming in — the coaches did a great third-down plan coming in. On third down, lots of teams like to play man and go one-on-one, and everyone knows the kind of guys we have on the outside, so that's a tough decision for anybody."

Did Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley throw anything at you that you didn't expect, or was it pretty much what you thought you'd see from them?

       "They disguised their stuff a little more. They still played their stuff, but they just disguised it a little differently. But that defense is going to play their stuff."

Does it mean anything to you to get that win in your first playoff start?

       "I mean, it's exciting. But this was expected. This isn't like the icing on top of the cake or anything — this is the cake. So we're moving on."

What does it mean to you to be the youngest quarterback in franchise history to win a playoff game?

       "It's exciting, but we have a great team and a great coaching staff. And like I said, we're on to the next week. It's going to be fun tomorrow to watch the games knowing we have the win. Obviously we had the first game, so we get it out of the way. Just going to watch these games, and watch the film tomorrow, and get back to work."

What's that final drive like for you and you're just an observer, and you're watching the defense, and it's out of your hands? Is that difficult?

       "Yeah, it's tough. I was kind of hoping they'd go out and score so I could get back out there (laughs). But I was glad the defense made a play."

What was your perspective? Where were you standing, and what was your reaction to Germaine Pratt's pick at the end?

       "I was standing on the sidelines. I'm usually sitting down, but I figured I should probably stand up for that one. That guy has played unbelievable all year, and I'm excited for him to be able to make a play in that situation."

Until the Kansas City game, you all hadn't come back from a fourth quarter deficit. Do you feel like winning a game like that — you had so many deficits — helped you today?

       "We've gone through adversity all year. We've had some pretty big deficits all season, and we've been a second half team all year. We talked about it when we go down — we never feel like we're out of it. A team could be up 28 points, and I feel like we can always come back with the weapons we have on the outside, and Joe Mixon, and our coaching staff. I never feel out of it."

With those trips that were just field goals, was that overly aggravating or making you nervous?

       "It was frustrating. We really wanted to punch that in, and get those touchdowns. We knew we had control of the game, and just needed to put points on the board. We were moving the ball really well, but we just couldn't quite get over that hump in the second half and punch it in when we needed to."

There were the two drives where you responded with touchdowns. Can you talk about that first drive after going down 3-0 and the drive before halftime?

       "Yeah the first one was a big, big drive. I think it really set the tone for the rest of the game. We kind of moved it up and down on them and started feeling comfortable. I was feeling very comfortable in the pocket. Our line did a really good job all day — that's a really good D-line. I think they did really well, and on that third down C.J. (Uzomah) made a great play on the first drive."

You're very businesslike after wins. Is there any celebration? Do you allow yourself to celebrate or is it straight to work on the next game?

       "It's straight to work. Obviously we're excited about the win, but it's the playoffs. (If) you dwell on this one too much, then you're going to get beat in the next round."

Were you surprised at how the Raiders played Ja'Marr Chase, and what did you think of his performance with over 100 yards?

       "Yeah, he played great like he always does. The key with him is you don't get a lot of one-on-one opportunities throughout the game, but when you do, you've got to capitalize on them. And I think he capitalized on them today."

On that first touchdown pass, there were three guys right there when you rifled that in to C.J. Uzomah. Was that a play where your increased arm strength that you worked on in the offseason paid dividends?

       "Could be. Could be. I think timing was the bigger emphasis on that throw. I feel like I put it in a good spot. I threw it right out of the break, and C.J. did a good job reading the coverage, and understanding that he doesn't need to go anywhere, just turn around and he's going to get the ball."

Zac Taylor said you guys can hang with anyone you might play in the postseason. What's the source of that confidence?

       "We expect to beat everybody that we play — not just hang with them. The guys we have in that locker room know what kind of players we have, and the coaches have a great game plan every week, so that's every game we're going to be playing."

On that throw to Tyler Boyd, did you hear the whistle?

       "I did not. I did not."

How loud was it out there, particularly on that fourth-down snap at the end?

       "It's tough for me to say. I'm not really keyed in to the crowd noise too much. I'm more focused on my job, so I'm pretty good at tuning that out, and I think that helps me. So that's a tough question to answer, but I know they had a lot of false starts, so it must've been pretty loud."

You've played a ton of big games in your life. What were the similarities and differences of an NFL Playoff game?

       "We knew it was going to be tough — that's a really good team and a really good defense. We knew it was going to come down to the last drive in the fourth quarter. That's how most playoff games come out. We've played in a lot of big games this year, so that situation wasn't anything new to us."

Zac Taylor said on fourth-and-a-foot, he said he put it in your hands, if you got the look you wanted, to do whatever. You didn't get it, but did you want to go for it after that timeout, or were you OK with the field goal?

       "That's not my decision. I thought it was a good decision. We take the points, and go up two scores in the fourth quarter, and our defense was playing really well. So let them handle it, let's take our points and move on."

Were you close to getting the look you were looking for?

       "Yeah we were close. I wanted to get it, but sometimes being patient in that situation enables you to win that game, so I'm glad it went that way."

Is there any significance to the glasses?

       "(Laughs) Oh no, I just think they're pretty cool. What do you think? (Laughs)"

Are they sunglasses?

       "No, I wouldn't call them sunglasses."

How many text messages do you expect to be on your phone about you all winning a playoff game?

       "Oh, who knows. Probably a couple hundred — I haven't checked it yet. But we'll see."

So you're going to start preparing right away, but you're not going to know for 27 hours who you're playing. What does that preparation look like until you know who's next?

       "Just watching football on TV, going and getting our workouts in tomorrow, and then just being a fan the rest of the day, and see who we're playing."

Do you think not playing up in Cleveland last week allowed you to play better this week?

       "It's tough to say. I know my body felt really good, and I think we all felt fresh coming into this game. We had a great week of practice, and everyone was healthy coming into the game. We got some injuries in this game, and got a little banged up, but I think everyone was fresh."

SAM HUBBARD, Defensive end

What does this win mean to you personally?

       "To me personally, it means the world. Never in my lifetime have we had a playoff win. I feel like we broke a curse. Really, just looking up in the stands, seeing the city come alive, it's hard to put into words what it means to everybody in the city, and I'm just really happy to be part of the team that was able to do it. We got a lot more in store."

What was the defense's mentality on the final Raiders drive, and on the final fourth down stop?

       "We had a lot of guys go down on the defensive line. Guys stepped up and just had to grind it out. We were trying to keep (Raiders QB Derek Carr) in the pocket, doubling guys on the back end. Just grinding it out, keeping them out of the end zone, doing whatever we could. Everybody's fighting, clawing together. I think the love we have with each other as teammates is what allowed us to bow up at the end and in the red zone so many times."

How did it feel that this game was decided by the defense?

       "I don't really care. All I wanted in the world was to win this game for the city and for this team, and we were able to do it. I didn't even care how it happened."

What was the play call on the final fourth down of the game?

       "I couldn't tell you, I don't want to talk too much scheme. We were just rushing. Germaine Pratt has been preaching all year, he's our turnover guy. Every day at practice (he preaches) 'get the ball out, get the ball out,' so to have him come up with the turnover, it's no accident."

Do you remember celebrating after the final interception?

       "I just walked off, looked at the crowd and saw everybody going nuts. I was a little bit overcome with emotion."

Can you describe the celebration in the locker room right now?

       "I think you can hear it. It's a good place to be, I'm ready to get done with these questions so I can go celebrate."


Walk us through that last play. What led to the interception?

       "They did the same play again, (as) the one (Bengals Safety Jessie Bates III) almost picked. So it was the same read for me. I read the quarterback's eyes and he threw it to try to make a play, and I took advantage of the opportunity."

What was your assignment on that play?

       "Hook-to-hook, like reading the quarterback's eyes, basically. It's Cover 3, (my job was) inside help, present for the slant or anything that's coming to me."

Is a PBU just as good as an interception in that situation, or does it mean more to you to pick the ball off?

       "Pick... turnovers win games. I want a pick, I don't want no PBU."

How much did you relish having the game on the defense's shoulders at the end?

       "I think that's the defensive players' mindset. They want to be in the game (on) the last drive. We want to close it out for them. That's my mindset. I'm pretty sure Joey B (would say) 'put the ball in (my) hands' and he'll make a play."

How have you made such great strides in pass coverage over the last year?

       "It's understanding concepts and how to attack them, using your help and stuff. It's just understanding football and developing. Over time, you've got to develop as a player or you'll get left behind. So I think every game you've got to improve, each and every one."

You made the clinching play that ends this long playoff drought for the franchise. What does that mean to you?

       "It means a lot. I got drafted by (Zac Taylor). We've had ups and downs the past two years, and to be able to make that play and put the stamp on it. (I was part of) the first class he drafted here. So, it was a great opportunity."

What will you do with the game ball?

       "I'm going to put it up, but I want another ball. The next one is the best one."

C.J. UZOMAH, Tight end

How does it feel to win today?

       "It feels great. I was little overcome with emotion after the game. This is what we work for. For it to be this long, this hard — it's been a long time coming. I'm hyped. I know the team is hyped. I hear Germaine (Pratt) say, 'It's just one.' We are going to try to run the table. I'm excited."

When you are playing against a tight end counterpart like the Raiders' Darren Waller, does it make you work harder?

       "When I see someone like him or other tight ends in the league making catches, I want to be able to contribute in that aspect. At the same time, I look around and see all of the offensive weapons we have, and if I have to block every play and these days are going to get open and have career days, I'm going to do it. It's nice to have a changeup and be able to contribute in the pass game. Joe (Burrow) threw me a 'dot' (for a touchdown). That was an incredible throw. You can have a chip on your shoulder for sure."

Was Joe different or the same as always today?

       "He was the same. The same, stoic expression every time. He has that level head."

How confident are you that this is the Bengals' time in the playoffs?

       "Very confident. We got a little tense as an offense in the second half. We were making mistakes we shouldn't be making. We did some things that were uncharacteristic. But it's good to have that monkey off our back. Now we can play loose. Now it is our time. Why not? Why not win the whole thing."

Did you think the ball was coming to you on the touchdown play?

       "One-hundred percent. When I broke the huddle and saw the coverage, I knew it was coming to me. I knew he was going to throw it and I was going to have to hold on. Right when I turned (on the route) and saw his eyes, I knew the ball was coming."

Talk about the jersey you're wearing. It's a throwback of former Bengals TE Rodney Holman...

       "Our meeting room has Pro Bowlers' names on the wall. I have seen Rodney Holman's name since I've been here — seven years. I did some research. He was the last Bengals tight end to win a playoff game. He went to the Super Bowl with the Bengals. I thought it was a nice tribute for things to come, and to pay homage for the way we want things to be."

JA'MAR CHASE, Wide receiver

How does it feel to have your first NFL playoff win?

       "It feels good to get the job done. I'm glad we have this 31-year streak over with. It's a blessing."

Did the Raiders defend you different than the first game?

       "No. We didn't take advantage of it the first time."

What is it that makes you feel you can beat anyone lining up across from you?

       "I'm like that every game, no matter who is across from me. I have that dog mentality. It's either be stopped or not be stopped. I don't think I can be stopped."

How different was Joe Burrow from the 2019 College Football Playoff run at LSU?

       "I wish I had a good enough of a memory to go back that far. He's passionate about his football. I don't think he's playing any differently than he has been playing. His passes were on point. He gets smarter as the game goes on."

How fast did you come off the sideline following Germaine Pratt's interception?

       "I didn't fly off the sideline. I was a little happy. I wasn't satisfied, but I was happy we got the win. I felt like it was an ugly win, but it got the job done."

Have you been playing with the grills (mouthpiece jewelry) in all year?

       "I have. Some games. Not every game."

What goes in to the decision to wear them or not?

       "If I'm feeling it. Last game, I got hit too hard in my lip. So, I took it out. I'll probably wear it again, next week."

Do you feel this team is playing with a lot of confidence? At what point did that come this season?

       "The Kansas City game was the biggest challenge we had all year. We stepped up that game. We had to win that game. We did win that game. We executed and that's probably where we got our confidence from. "

Are you surprised by your level of success?

       "Of course not. They did a little double-double (coverage). The majority of the time, you have to win a one-on-one matchup. That was taught on Day 1 at LSU."

CJ said the offense didn't play to its identity in the second half. Do you agree with him?

       "I do agree. Definitely."

What is your confidence level in this team?

       "My confidence is pretty high. Being next to Joe Burrow and Tyler Boyd — those guys are calm. I stay as calm as I can and not overthink anything as the game goes on. I try to play my game."

It looks like the Raiders started with man-to-man coverage against you. Did it stay that way?

       "It changed when I got to the three-by-two side. When I was the No. 3 receiver in the empty formation, that was the only time it changed."

How long did it take to diagnose the Raiders' pass coverage(s)?

       "I picked it up pretty quickly. They didn't disguise it very much to my side. It was easy for me to read."

Can you describe what it felt like to watch the Raiders' final drive?

       "In that moment, you have to sit there and believe in your defense. Hopefully they execute. Cheering them on is the best that you can do. Stand up and watch the game. I was a little nervous when they got close to the goal line. Germaine (Pratt) saved us."

Were you confused at all on Tyler Boyd's touchdown catch? And did you hear a whistle during the play?

       "No. I didn't even know TB caught the ball. Once they called touchdown, I was ready to celebrate."

Describe your relationship with Joe Burrow ...

       "We started clicking in college. We have been helping each other get smarter every week and better as the game goes on."

On the Bengals' third and seven on the final drive, was that the way the play was drawn up?

       "No. I had a go-route. Joe threw it back-shoulder, and that slowed me down. I adjusted."

How many times have you done that with him?

       "Probably 1000-plus. We did that in college most of the time."

Why have you and Joe Burrow been able to click?

       "College is where you have one of the most fun times. It's where you meet people and grow with them over a lifetime. I met Joe in college. I know him for a lifetime now, so he's looking like my brother now. He's helping me grow. I'm helping him grow. We're getting each other better, our organization better and our team better.

You got a few rushes today. How do you like running the football?

       "I haven't played running back in a long time. They gave me those tosses. I got hit by linebackers, and I know what those feel like again. I'm built like a running back. They only do those plays for receivers who are built like running backs."