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What Joe Burrow, Zac Taylor And The Bengals Said After Winning The AFC Championship

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor holds up the Lamar Hunt trophy after they beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL AFC Championship football game, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022 in Kansas City, Mo.. (AP Photos/Reed Hoffmann)
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor holds up the Lamar Hunt trophy after they beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL AFC Championship football game, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022 in Kansas City, Mo.. (AP Photos/Reed Hoffmann)

Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor Quotes

January 30, 2022

Q: What does this win show after beating this Chiefs team?

TAYLOR: "Special team. We are a special team that is capable of doing special things. We believed from the get-go, whether people believed us or not, we did. We are not surprised. This is where we are meant to be, and I am proud of the guys in the locker room."

Q: How fitting was it that the play to give you a chance in overtime came from your team leaders Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III?

TAYLOR: "It is fitting they made a play on the ball like that. I can't wait to see it. I did not have great vision on the play. I just saw Vonn come out of there with it. I am proud of those guys. They have mastered this takeaway thing these last couple of weeks. It has really enabled us to play the type of game we want to play and get to the Super Bowl like we did."

Q: What did you tell your defense going onto the field in overtime?

TAYLOR: "They were tired. Our guys were tired and stretched thin. They had a big possession there at the end of the game where they held them to a field goal. We just needed one more shot at those guys. We knew they were going to be aggressive like the way they were in the week before where they tried to throw that ball into the endzone and win the game. We are proud of the guys for going up, finding everything that was left in their tank and leave it all on the field. Plus, the offense and special teams were able to go on and finish it off."

Q: What was it like standing on the stage holding the trophy?

TAYLOR: "I really don't think it has set in to be honest. It was such an incredible moment. You are really just looking down on all of the players and coaches and the joy in their faces. It is a moment you will never be able to replicate. We may get to do this again, hopefully that is the plan certainly. I don't know if it will ever be as special as the moment we had right there. It is pretty cool to be a part of."

Q: When the Chiefs did not covert before halftime, did you see that as a large opportunity?

TAYLOR: "We always talk about good and bad, learning from our previous experiences. That happened against Jacksonville earlier this season. We were down by two scores and they went for it. Our defense stopped them going into halftime at the goal line and prevented a three score lead. We have that stuff in our memory bank. So, when our defense makes that play and we were down 11, just like when it was four or five weeks ago, we knew we were going to be able to win that game."

Q: With rushing fewer guys and dropping more in the second half, was that a reaction to what you were seeing from the Chiefs?

TAYLOR: "At times, it is pick your poison with those guys because you blitz them and they are going to hit their speed in space quickly and get some big plays. You drop some more guys into coverage and Patrick Mahomes is generally going to have more time because you are rushing fewer guys. It is just about stealing possessions and our guys did that twice in key parts and that is kind of the key to victory for us."

Q: Can you discuss the impact of the play by B.J. Hill?

TAYLOR: "We always say tips and overthrows, you have to get them. B.J., right place, right time. He got the tip ball. We were able to finish off with a touchdown with that drive, so huge play by B.J. He has really exemplified what we are about and joining us at the beginning of the season and stepping in and being a huge part of what we have done."

Q: What are your overall thoughts about Joe Burrow's performance?

TAYLOR: "There is nothing I can say that I have not said before. You want to make sure the game is in his hands in those critical moments. We had a lot of discussions about what he liked in overtime. I wanted to make sure it was the things he liked the best. He gave me great feedback on that. We were able to get it called and our receivers made the plays they needed to make to make them finish strong in the run game with our offensive line. The pass game got us where we needed to be and be in position to make a field goal. We felt like we were in range and those guys took over the run game to make it easier. That was the way we wanted to finish the game. I am really proud of those guys."

Q: Why do you think this team is able to find a way to get takeaways when you all need them the most?

TAYLOR: "It is something that we have stressed for so long now. You never know when it is going to start paying off. They have come in bunches for us. Our guys have just done a great job, players and coaches, stressing the turnovers. When you are playing great teams like we are in this stretch, you have to have more possessions than they do. It is a big part of a three point game, is probably because you are on the right end of it because you got more turnovers than they did. I don't think that was an easy group today."

Q: Could you feel this big experience moment for Joe Burrow's on the field today?

TAYLOR: "Yeah, when the game is on the line, he is going to figure it out. Whether it is with his feet or extending plays. He made a comment last night that he was going to rush for 100 yards. I don't know how many he ran for, but he sure took off there in the fourth quarter. He made some huge plays with his feet. That comedy in our quarterback meeting kind of registered with me that he realized he didn't have enough rushing yards and he was going to try to get them all in the fourth quarter. He just finds a way to make plays when there isn't a play to be made. It makes my life much easier. It doesn't have to be the perfect play call, he is going to figure it out. I probably called one of his all-time favorite plays in the third quarter and it did not work at all. He scrambled and found Ja'Marr (Chase) coming across the field for a scramble play. You can probably go look it up. That is his bread and butter. It was a disaster. The coverage took everyone away. They blitzed us. There was nothing there and Joe figured it out. I am just really proud of the effort he had today and putting us in this position."

Q: Why go to Trent Taylor on the two-point conversion and how long have you had the play?

TAYLOR: "That play is in the Shanahan, McVay family. We have repped that for a number of years. We have never called it here. We have repped it in and out for a couple of years. Trent has that lateral quickness that is really good. (Tyler Boyd) can do it too, but Trent has had a lot of reps on that play over the last five years I would imagine. We had started working on that play with him probably three weeks ago, whenever he was elevated. We started putting that one in. That is the only play that has his name on the game plan. It is a little red zone play and we got the two pointer. He did a great job executing it. We can see the signal from the defensive backs and the moment he motioned over, we had a good look and capitalized on it."

Q: What does this win mean for the city of Cincinnati?

TAYLOR: "First of all, I am happy for this team and everyone in the organization. You can't help but think about the people back in Cincinnati celebrating right now and all the people that were here. It felt like half of the stadium was at the end of the game when all of the fans got down there. It was a special moment. I am so happy for the city of Cincinnati. They have waited for this moment. They have supported us waiting for this moment. I couldn't be happier. Hopefully we can get them all out to L.A. We can figure that out, planes, trains, shuttles, whatever we have to do. We have to get all of those people out to L.A. because we know we are going to be playing a California team. I know the fans were all probably hoping for the 49ers because what better way to go than the most recent one that they had. Either way it is going to be fun. We are going to have to have our best on that Sunday in the Super Bowl. I appreciate the fans. We wouldn't be here without them."


Q: What was the most difficult part of getting the ball in overtime? Did you say anything to anybody in that moment?

BURROW: "Getting the first, first down is probably the hardest. We were going against a really good defense. They had a great plan against us. We made plays when we needed to. You've got to give credit to them because they played really well."

Q: What was that moment like for you when you were walking off the field?

BURROW: "It was exciting and exciting to see all of the fans that stayed around. It was tough to hear all of the Bengals fans in the stadium but they showed up after everybody else filtered out. That was exciting. I'm excited to get back to Cincinnati to see everybody."

Q: Who was the first person you celebrated with?

BURROW: "I guess it was Zac (Head Coach Zac Taylor). I think I saw Zac right after the kick went in and I gave him a big hug."

Q: How surreal does it feel that you're going to the Super Bowl?

BURROW: "I wouldn't call it surreal. I'd say it's exciting. I think if you would've told me before the season started that we'd be going to the Super Bowl, I probably would've called you crazy, but then we played a whole season and nothing surprises me now. I know the kind of guys that we have and the team that we have. There's still one left and we're excited about this one. We'll celebrate tonight and then move on."

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your chain there?

BURROW: "Oh, you like this one? There's no story to it. I just think it's pretty cool."

Q: Do you think the rest of Cincinnati is going to have JB9 chains over the next few weeks like they did with the glasses?

BURROW: "If the glasses are any indicator, I would say yes."

Q: Do you have anything fun planned outfit-wise for the Super Bowl yet?

BURROW: "I guess I'll have to figure something out. I haven't really thought about it. I thought about this one and it was probably my favorite outfit of the year. I was excited about this one."

Q: Are the jewels real and what are they?

BURROW: "They're definitely real. I make too much money to have fake ones. These are real."

Q: Did you sense an opening for you guys when the Chiefs weren't able to score before halftime?

BURROW: "That's a great point. That's a big play that our defense made. I think that stretch right there where we scored a touchdown then they drive down the field, in a two-minute situation and our defense prevented any points from being put on the board. I think that was really the turning point in the game."

Q: How did the team and the franchise turn around after being last place in the AFC North last season to now going to the Super Bowl this season?

BURROW: "That's a tough question because you don't really think about it that way. You just think about it as going into an offseason and working really hard for potential opportunities. This is what you work so hard for. We didn't go into last season saying that we have to have a great offseason to make it to the Super Bowl next year. I think everyone just went into it and knew they had to get better as players so we could be better as a team."

Q: What was it like to win an AFC Championship Game and see that LeBron James tweeted about you?

BURROW: "The situation that I'm in socially, doesn't really feel real to me. In my head, I'm just the same old guy. Kid Cudi reached out to me yesterday, you've got LeBron tweeting at me. That part is surreal. The football part, not so much, but that stuff is crazy."

Q: What's your favorite Kid Cudi track?

BURROW: "I listen to New York City Rage Fest every game day right before I go out. Also, Man on the Moon, but I like all of his stuff."

Q: Zac mentioned a play in the third quarter that was your favorite but didn't end up working out like it was supposed to. Do you remember that play and can you walk us through that? What kind of lift did it give you guys to make something out of nothing?

BURROW: "I don't remember exactly what play it was. I remember making something happen in the backfield and Ja'Marr (Chase) did a great job of getting open for me. I kind of knew going into the game that I was going to have to make some plays with my legs. I had a feeling that they would double Ja'Marr and double one of our other guys. That leaves nobody covering me, so I knew I was going to have to make some plays."

Q: Can you shed some light on how fast this has come together for you guys? Did it happen faster than you would've imagined?

BURROW: "I think if you would've told me coming into the league, when I got drafted, that we would be here this year, it would be a shock. Like I said earlier, now I'm not surprised. I've been playing this whole year and I knew we'd have a chance to be here. Today was a great win for the organization, ownership, the city, and me personally as well. It's a very exciting moment."

Q: Is there anybody in your mind that you want to call and talk to after a win like this?

BURROW: "I thanked my physical therapist in the locker room. He was with me all offseason. He put vacations on hold to get me back to where I needed to be. He really helped me a lot, as well as my physical therapist in California. I owe a lot to those two guys."

Q: At this point, do you kind of enjoy the opportunity to put together a comeback like you did today?

BURROW: "I don't know if you ever want to get down 21-3. I said it earlier in the year when we started making some of these comebacks, I never really feel like we're out of it, but obviously 21-3 isn't exactly the most exciting position to be in."

Q: Zac said in the meeting last night that you said you'd run for 100 yards today. What made you think that today was going to be a day like that? How big do you feel your legs were in keeping drives alive?

BURROW: "I knew coming in that I didn't really run a lot against them the first game. I didn't really extend a lot of plays. I think coming into today, I kind of expected them to not really account for that. That was a big part of my mindset coming in. If one or two weren't there, try to make a play with my legs or get rid of the ball and not take as many sacks as I did last week. I'm really excited about how it played out."


Q: What were your thoughts when the Chiefs won the overtime coin toss, and what was your thought after your interception?

BELL:"My thoughts were that we have a resilient group of guys. We're made for this moment. We were stacking up (third) downs, we were stopping them and building the momentum. We said, 'Why not us? Let's go out there and make the play.' Hats off to the guys – we have a resilient group, like I said. Just knowing the guys and who they're going to go to – who (Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes) is going to go to – it's (WR Tyreek Hill) and (TE Travis Kelce). It's knowing situations. That's when (Mahomes) tried to go to 10 (Hill) at the end of the game. (S) Jessie (Bates III) broke it up and I just finished it off, running to the ball. We never quit, we never quit fighting and we never back down from the challenge. We just played our brand of football and that's what we showed up with. It goes to the wire and we're a resilient group."

Q: What was the biggest reason the Chiefs were able to have so much passing success in the first half and what did the defense say at halftime to turn the game around?

BELL:"Just settling in, getting all the jitters out and playing our brand of football. They're going to make plays, they're here for a reason. They've been in Super Bowls, they've been in big games, they know how to win, they're going to find their guys and they're going to make plays. But we're going to make plays, too. When you have the opportunity to go out there and make them and seize the moment, just calm down, make the plays that come to you and everything else will unfold how it's supposed to unfold. We just stuck to it, never batted an eye, never had a doubt, leaned on one another and just went out there and had fun playing with each other."

Q: What do you say to people who are surprised that the Bengals are in the Super Bowl?

BELL:"Just tell them that week-in and week-out, guys never stop fighting. There's been ups and downs and bumps and bruises in the road, but we have a resilient group. Guys show up to work, didn't have any doubts, stayed the course and leaned on one another as a family. We're a close-knit group and we play all-in for the win. We're playing for one another because we know what we do day-in and day-out. Putting in the work since OTAs, training camp and throughout the season. We know what kind of group we have, we have a special group. We showed it and we just have to keep on proving it. We're not worried about the outside noise, we're just worried about the inside and that's what we're going to take care of."

Q: How has the defense been able to have a big moment late in the game in all three playoff games?

BELL:"We just knew it's going to be on us. Throughout the situational pass game, the two-minute, red zone, third-down, we knew it was going to come down to us – especially the back end. We just rose up to the challenge, we have a great group of guys on the back end – playmakers all over the field. We just go out there and play our brand of football, relying on one another, great communication. Like I told them, going into that second half, we have to have elite communication. And that's what we did. We went out there and played and had fun. Hats off to the guys."

Q: Can you encapsulate what the feelings and emotions are in the locker room?

BELL:"Like I said, day-in and day-out, it shows what type of group we have. Why can't it be us? We have a special group. We had to put all the pieces together and really believe in one another. Just putting the work in, never questioning, staying the course and just believing in it. Everyone had belief. Anything is capable with this group. We were down and we just kept on fighting. We have a resilient group. That group of guys in the locker room, they don't bat an eye. We trust in one another, trust in the coaches, everybody is on the same page. We just go out there and play our brand of football. We're showing the world who we are and we're going to keep showing the world who we are. We're not done yet, we have to keep on playing. We're going to enjoy this, it means everything. Embracing the moment, like I told them last week. Embrace it and take full advantage of this opportunity and seize the moment. That's what guys are doing, we're playing at a high level right now. We're just going to go out there and keep playing our brand of football."

Q: What were the defensive backs doing to confuse Patrick Mahomes, especially in the second half?

BELL:"We just had to change our looks, change our disguises. Just playing our brand of football, just calming down, playing with great eyes and great technique. They gave us some unscouted looks at the beginning and we just had to home in on our technique and trust in it, go out and believe in it. Go out there and think, 'When the ball is in the air, it's our ball.' Getting off the field on third down – we can't give up seven – hold them to three. With our backs against the wall, that's when we fight the best. Guys bowed up, made big-time plays, big time stops. We have a resilient group and we really showed that today in all five quarters. We never batted an eye, we believed in it for sure."

Q: At halftime, was it unspoken that the game wasn't over or did someone speak up and remind the team?

BELL:"We have leaders all across the board on the defensive side. When we stopped them before halftime, we knew that we had built the momentum. That carried over and we made six straight stops going in towards the end of the game. Guys never batted an eye. Believing in one another, going out and making a play. Who was going to be the one to make a play – that's what we were saying to one another. We had a glorious moment. Guys being resilient, keep fighting for your brothers and going out and playing our brand of football."


Q: Before you walked out for the winning field goal, did you say anything to a teammate like you did last week?

MCPHERSON:"I didn't say anything this week, but it was going through my head that we had a pretty good chance that we were going to the Super Bowl. It's so surreal that this game came down to a field goal. Obviously, it wasn't just me. Our defense put us in a great position with the interception. Our offense, I obviously had a lot of confidence in them that they were going to drive it down. I thought we were going to score, I was telling everyone that this game was going to end on a touchdown, not a field goal."

Q: Have you thought about the postseason field goal record?

MCPHERSON:"We just need three more in the Super Bowl to break the record (and) two more to tie. That's definitely something we're going to shoot for. We'll see how it goes, I'd like to score a lot of touchdowns in the Super Bowl. However we can get points in the Super Bowl, we'll do it."

Q: What is it like in the locker room at halftime?

MCPHERSON:"Nobody blinked an eye. We all thought that we were definitely going to come back and find a way to win. That's what we've done the whole year. I think people probably wrote us off at halftime, but we're a confident bunch of guys and we knew that there's no way we were going to go out like this. We knew 100 percent that we were going to come back and give them a run for their money."

Q: What was the conversation like right before halftime – whether to squib it or kick it deep? Do you think about how the half could have ended differently had you not?

MCPHERSON:"It obviously would have given them one more play. Our guys did a great job covering down and tackling them inside the 20. I would say we executed that perfectly and obviously took some time off the clock for them. It just speaks to how our defense plays, that goal-line stand going into half. I think I said, coming into the locker room after that stop, that that probably won us the game right there. And it definitely did. Our defense definitely won us the game right there."

Q: When the Chiefs won the overtime coin toss, did you think you would have a chance on offense?

MCPHERSON:"There's no doubt. Our defense has been playing so good all day. It was just time for us to get our turn and get a turnover. We put some pressure on them, got them third-and-long right off the bat and made them have to try to make a play. Ultimately our guys went out and made a play. All props to our defense, they've done tremendously all season. Many times they've really stepped up."


Q: What is the reason that the team's personality has expanded this season?

HIGGINS:"It starts in the locker room, us being a family. Everybody going out to eat dinner, us being together as a family. You can just see it, our personalities growing and getting better and better each and every week."

Q: What's the biggest reason the team has been able to turn it around after your rookie season last year?

HIGGINS:"Playing more together, playing together as a team. You didn't see that last year. This year you've seen it."

Q: What is the biggest source of the team's confidence?

HIGGINS:"I think it's just all of us being who we are. It starts in the locker room, we joke around and laugh and we're one big family. It shows on the field, we're all playing together and playing complementary football on offense and defense. It shows."

Q: Do you remember what you did when the kick went through the uprights to win the game?

HIGGINS:"I was sitting on the bench. I knew he was going to make it. When it went through, I jumped up and was like, 'We're going to the Super Bowl!' I instantly found (WRs Coach) Troy (Walters) – hats off to him for coaching us receivers, we give him hell each and every week just for the hell of it. Hats off to him, great coach and I look forward to learning more from him."

Q: Did it feel surreal to you?

HIGGINS:"Definitely. It's crazy, it still hasn't hit me yet. It didn't feel real at all. It's crazy because my second year in college, I went to the National Championship. Now it's my second year in the league and now I'm going to the Super Bowl. I'm blessed."

Q: Walk us through the locker room celebration.

HIGGINS:"All smiles. All smiles and laughter. Everybody is just proud of one another. The job isn't done, we know that. We're going to celebrate this one and get back to work tomorrow."

Q: Only one other team in history has overcome an 18-point deficit in a championship game. To pull that off, what is more important: mindset or execution?

HIGGINS:"Both. You have to have both. You have to have the mindset that you can do it. Then you have to go out there and execute those plays as called. You have to have both."

Q: What made you think you could do it?

HIGGINS:"We just sat back and knew at halftime – all we had to do was be us and grind it out. And that's what we were able to do to come out with this 'W.'"


Q: What are the emotions going through you after this win?

HUBBARD: "Yeah, we're going to the Super Bowl. It sounds crazy to say that. When you say that it's hard to believe. We're here. It's hard to believe. I love this team. I love this city. We got one more to get it all. I'm on cloud nine right now."

Q: Why was your defense able to get to Mahomes in the second half?

HUBBARD: "We were getting there in the first half, but he has the best pocket presence of anyone in the league. We just kept telling ourselves, 'keep chopping wood, keep rushing, keep rushing.' We were being disciplined in our rush lanes and it paid off. We were rushing three at times and able to sack him. It was a collective effort of everyone just relentlessly pursuing him. That's all we did is keep grinding the whole way and it finally paid off."

Q: Have you ever had sacks on back-to-back plays?

HUBBARD: "I don't think I ever had sacks on back-to-back plays to send us to the Super Bowl. I guess that what happens when you keep getting after it and stay the course. To be able to deliver that for my teammates, for the city, it's hard to believe."

Q: Can you describe what you remember about the moment the kick went through? What did you do?

HUBBARD: "I found Coach [Marion] Hobby and gave him a big hug. I celebrated with my teammates for a little bit. I went over and found Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce and told them great game. I have a lot of respect for them. They're incredible opponents, incredible players. They had a great year. To be able to come out on top and celebrate with these teammates, it's something I'll carry with me the rest of my life."

Q: When you hosted Joe Burrow prior to the 2020 NFL Draft, did you ever talk about this as a possibility?

HUBBARD: "Yeah, no doubt. The thing about Joe and myself, is that we're winners. We've won our whole lives. I've been pretty miserable along with my teammates for the last few years losing so many games. told Joe, 'We need you. You're the guy to turn this around, I know it.' He embraced that. What are the odds that a kid from Athens Ohio is a national champion, Heisman Trophy winner, prime to be the number one overall pick and we happen to have it. You can't even write stories like this. It's amazing."

Q: What did it mean that Coach Taylor selected you and Joe Burrow for the coin toss?

HUBBARD: "I'm not sure what his thinking was behind it, but I took it as a great honor. To stand beside Joe and go out for the coin toss. I don't take that lightly. That is a sign of my position, Joe's position as leaders on this team. I'm going to hold myself to that standard for the rest of my career, taking the coin toss at the AFC Championship."

Q: Describe the feeling of having Joe Burrow on your side during overtime.

HUBBARD: "My heart rate didn't raise above…whatever. I had all the confidence in the world that after we got that turnover by Vonn Bell, we were going to take care of the ball and march down the field. We have the most reliable kicker in the NFL, ice it off if we weren't going to score. I knew once we got that first stop, it was in Joe's hands and we're good."


Q: What does it feel like to be heading to the Super Bowl with one of your best friends in Joe Burrow?

CHASE: "I'm excited. The more I hear it, the more I get excited. We got an opportunity in front of us. We've got a great team. We've been doing this all year. This has been our goal and everyone's excited for the opportunity in front of us."

Q: The way the Chiefs were guarding you, what adjustments did they make after week 17?

CHASE: "Today they played a lot of cloud on me. The cornerbacks played outside technique on me and the safeties were running all on top of me pretty fast early and often. That was a fast adjustment they made."

Q: What does it feel like to be going to a Super Bowl and a national championship? Are there similarities or differences to be there with Joe?

CHASE: "I was just talking with him earlier. He said we just won back-to-back championships. I said, 'Yeah, I was with you too.' Everything's opportunity. We keep having opportunities in front of us and we keep taking advantage of it. We have one more chance. I'm proud of these guys, proud of this team, proud of our defense and this organization. We've been fighting this whole year. I'm happy for us right now."

Q: Walk us through that touchdown play.

CHASE: "Two plays before we ran a similar route, it was like a comeback. I told him next time just run a fade route and throw it up to me. That's exactly what Zac [Taylor] called for me. Joe gave me the opportunity to get the ball out there and make a play."

Q: Were the defensive backs pretty grabby today?

CHASE: "They were doing the same stuff they were doing when we played earlier. We were at their home, so we weren't getting the calls. We just play through it. It was a hard-fought game all four quarters. Just had to execute."

Q: How uneasy was it watching that final Chiefs drive in the first half, knowing that if they score, it could be over? What kind of lift was it to see Eli Apple get that tackle for the offense?

CHASE: "Our defense was making plays at the right time. We've been doing it all year. We've been counting on those guys. They've been our backbone. Whenever we get the ball and have an opportunity to score, the offense is going to do it. We wouldn't be where we are now without our defense."