Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor
Q: How much did Evan McPherson's ability help you guys in a situation where you weren't able to score a touchdown help your momentum as an offense?
Coach Taylor: "It was huge, huge because we needed to win this game a certain way. We had to get that lead no matter what it looked like so that we could keep leaning on the run game and get after the quarterback a little bit, put as much pressure on him as possible. Evan, being able to capitalize on those drives. Even if it was just three points, three points, three points it's deflating for the other team and it was a great response from our guys. So hat's off to everyone for that."
Q: How big was that throw from Joe Burrow to Ja'Marr Chase?
Coach Taylor: "It was huge and that is why we have run it once this year, but we probably reaped it hundred times since spring. Those guys have so much confidence on that particular play. Good awareness by Joe seeing the coverage, good set at the top by Ja'Marr and good protection upfront because that was just a five-man protection and we were going to need every ounce of it. Just a good play all around by those guys."
Q: Third downs were a big deal. You guys were 6-12 they were 0-6, how big of a role was that in terms of keeping momentum?
Coach Taylor: "They couldn't extend their routes. You could feel our confidence from our defense getting those sacks that were huge to keep getting the ball back for the offense. We could keep pounding as much as we could. We felt like we had a lot of plays in the first half offensively and the defensive did a great job. I thought we had a good third-down plan and the guys executed it. Dan Pitcher and Brian Callahan spent a lot of time starting that plan off. I've asked for their help over the course of the game, and they did a great job, all of our coaches did. Those two guys really did a good job of solving that Rubik's cube over the course of the game."
Q: Can you describe the significance of winning when maybe your quarterback doesn't have his best game and the rest of the team is a big difference?
Coach Taylor: "Every game is going to be played a certain way, and we knew this was a game where we were going to have to run the football. Joe just wants to win, he doesn't care what it looks like. He understands the role he plays and converted third down's for us to extend it to get more runs off. We called some play actions they worked great for us today. When that stuff is not going your way, you really have to play with the lead and our defense gave us that and kept pounding the run game. That's a good recipe for success, good job to those guys."
Q: Their style of defense wasn't going to let you score?
Coach Taylor: "You've got to stick with the run against them. They have done a great job against explosive passes this year. I think a lot of Gus Bradley and the staff that he has over there. I thought that they did a really good job keeping us off-balance in some areas of the passing game. We knew it was going to be that style of a game and that we were all going to have headaches by the end of it and one that we had to deal with it, but we got it done."
Q: How hard was it to sit with the run game?
Coach Taylor: "We talked specifically about this yesterday and that may happen. There may be some zeros and some ugly ones. If the defense can hold up their end of the deal which they did and then some today. We are just going to keep with it, we knew the formula for success. Hats off to our players believing in it. Frank Paul did a great job over the course of this game with the runs. That's what happens you are able to pile on a bunch of points late and make it look like probably a bigger pull-out than it really was, but It was just good execution in the second half by our guys."
Q: You and Brian Callahan talked about wanting Joe to be a third down quarterback and leaning on him more, was this the kind of game that you had in mind?
Coach Taylor: "Absolutely, if you look at the way the Baltimore game closed out. That's how you want to do it. Not just the Bengals, but any team. That's the most fun way to do it when you have leaned on the runs and then finally the dam breaks and finish it off with the touchdown runs. To me that's my favorite way."
Q: Your confidence has never wavered with Eli Apple. How pleased were you to see him make that game stealing interception today?
Coach Taylor: "I'm really proud of him because he just hangs in there and is able to go on to the next play. That really is his experience with playing football, playing NFL football, is to know that concept and coverage is coming at you and be able to fall off to get that pick. Because I am from the sidelines, I know what coverage it is, I see what routes to go from [Darren] Waller but the corner has got to be the one that makes the play and he did and then some. An awesome job by Eli."
Q: It sounds like you gave up a lot of game balls?
Taylor: "Yeah, a couple. We went for the turnovers because we needed the turnovers this game. So, all the guys contributed to that. "
Q: Same with Eli?
Taylor: "Yeah, same with Eli and Trey [Hendrickson] created the strip sac that Sam [Hubbard] got the ball up. Joe makes them on offensive, and then Kevin Huber 200th career game, that's just awesome. He was the captain today, I can't even imagine 200 career games plus NFL from in high school then going to UC just really, really cool he's come this way and have a really good career and he's keeping it going and still going strong."
Q: It's a tough room if Evan McPherson doesn't get a game ball?
Taylor: "Yeah, it is, it's tough being a head coach and giving out game balls. It's the hardest part of my job."
Q: What does this mean? How much do you feel like you needed a win like this, especially for how tough the playoff chase is going to be?
Taylor: "It's not so much about the playoff race for me. We had that losing feeling the last two weeks that we played. It's more just getting that momentum back. We felt there, even the loss to Green Bay, that five game chunk there. That's our team. In the last two games we've got our momentum back. It's more for that aspect. So, let's get that momentum going into a big division game this week and get back to feeling how we felt from playing throughout the season."
Q: What was the message to your guys during the bye week, coming into this?
Taylor: "Well, it was more… We don't talk about big picture of the season. But the Raiders were a great example of a team that's right there with us, 5-4, and we've just put ourselves in a position to control our own destiny. We're going to play a lot of teams similar to the Raiders, same record, all shooting for the same thing. As long as we take care of our business, one week at a time, then we'll be in great shape, starting with the Raiders. They were in the same position and our guys understood that message and keep moving it forward week to week. Pittsburgh's no different."
Q: Did the game play out the way you drew it up?
Taylor: "It really did. It's one of those games…You always feel really good after a win, but for this one, this one kind of followed what we anticipated could happen if everyone stepped up and made plays. So this one felt a little bit different because it just felt like we went out there and we knew the first half was going to be tough. Then the second half is when all of our guys stepped up and delivered."
Q: Tyler Boyd had a big first half, seemed to be good release for Joe who was taking a lot of hits from pressure.
Taylor: "He was. He's so dependable. It's kind of on me, the last game in particular, where he was really focused and didn't get the touches. And sometimes that's just the way the coverage is going to go. TB is a big part of this team. He is a big part of the run game. There's a lot of things you probably didn't notice with the run game today. I thought the receivers stepped up big time. We're going to need them on the perimeters, and blocking the safeties, and blocking the nickels. Stanley's the man. Stanley [Morgan] is first team all energy. He's a locker room favorite of all the guys because he comes with the same attitude, and approach, every single day. He brings the energy. He plays his role on offense and special teams. And you saw him today, he got the pass on the ghost route, and he had the big block on Ja'Marr's Jet Sweep. That's just Stanley, Mr. Dependable. He's going to go in there and do his job. The safeties don't like him much after he blocks them. He's a Husker, so you wouldn't really expect anything less."
Q: Road wins were really hard to come by your first year. You already got four this year. You've still got two more games to go. Is this just a better team, or is there something to the attitude/approach?
Taylor: "Yeah, I think we've really matured. We lost 15 games in a row, on the road, I don't know if you remember that, I do. This team has really turned their mentality. When we get on a plane, get on a bus, go to a hotel, we come out there really focused and they've handled that really well. And I really thought the better part of the Jets game they did that too. Again, no concerns taking this team on the road, how they are going to handle it. This is a city with a lot of challenges, and I thought our guys handled it maturely. I'm just proud of them."
Bengals QB Joe Burrow
Q: Thoughts on that one?
Burrow: "It was fun. It was a hard-fought game against a good team that we knew was going to be a dog fight. We knew the kind of defense they were. They weren't going to give up a lot of big plays. We had to stay patient. Eventually the dam broke and we were able to get some points at the end. Defense played great. Team win."
Q: How would you assess your performance?
Burrow: "I thought I played well. I thought. You know, I didn't force too many against that team. You know, you just try and stay on schedule. We can't give them third-and-longs because then they unleash Maxx Crosby and [Yannick] Ngakoue. So, we stayed on schedule for the most part. We were able to get first downs when we needed them. I thought we played well."
Q: Is it easy to play patient in order to stay on schedule against this kind of defense?
Burrow: "It's not easy. But you know, some games are like that. Gus Bradley led defenses have always been like that. That's how the [Los Angeles] Chargers were last year and that's how the Raiders are this year. Keep everything in front. They're a good tackling team. They tackled really well today. But we were able to convert on critical third downs and the last drive we were able to punch it in. And then the one after that, we ran the ball very efficiently the whole day. So, it was exciting."
Q: Did you practice the third down situations?
Burrow: "Yeah we've repped it. And they played 'two tampa' there in the red zone. That's kind of what we expected on third down. Ja'Marr [Chase] did a great job at finding the zone back there in the corner. And Joe Mixon ran a good route in the flat to hold the corner and that was executed very well."
Q: How grateful are you for a running back Joe Mixon that can play so well?
Burrow: "Yeah Joe's [Mixon] a great player and the O-Line played great. I thought the passing game was [good]. We were efficient. We stayed on schedule. I wouldn't say it was…the big plays weren't there, but that's the style of defense that you play. We were efficient the whole day and, you know, we had to run the ball the whole game."
Q: How important was Tyler Boyd being apart of the pass plays?
Burrow: "Tyler [Boyd] is, you know, kind of a security blanket for me. When I face a zone coverage, we kind of just let him work the middle of the field on third downs and, you know, he's a great player that understands what we are trying to do in the zones that we are trying to attack."
Q: What changed when rushing the ball in the second half?
Burrow: "You know, that's kind of how rushing goes in the NFL. It's tough to run the ball in the first and second quarter when guys are fresh. And then, you know, as you wear on teams that's when the dam breaks in the second half. You know, we kept at it and we knew exactly what kind of game it was going to be. Worked out exactly how we thought it would. It was going to be tough at the beginning. We were going to have to stay patient. Not turn the ball over. You know we had that one turnover, but other than that we protected the ball well. We got up, we kept putting points up on the board, we kept getting field goals. And then at the end defense got a great turnover and we start scoring some touchdowns. So, it's exactly how we thought it would work out."
Q: Did you ever run a fake flea-flicker before?
Burrow: "That was fun. Joe slipped. Joe was mad about that one, but that was fun. That was a fun play."
Q: Did you ever run that play before?
Burrow: "No. No I have not. That was a fun play.
Q: Is that the first time running that play for Ja'Marr's catch in a game?
Burrow: "No. We've run that before. First time against that style of defense though."
Q: This is your first time playing in Las Vegas, are they any warning that the coaches give you about playing here?
Burrow: "For sure. I am sure that everybody knows, especially TV knows, that it is a business trip. I thought guys handled it very well. We got our dinner and all of that but then when it is time to lock in, we lock in and got the job done."
Q: What did you see that made that pass to Ja'Marr Chase successful?
Burrow: "They were playing 'Two Tampa' and we have never run that play against 'Two Tampa' in the red zone. We had to make it work. That is the zone two man when you are trying to attack and he did a great job."
Q: What does it say that you were able to get a touchdown in that moment?
Burrow: "It was a big play. I can't remember the last three drives, but the last two drives we just kept putting points on the board. The way that our defense was playing, we knew that if we kept putting points on the board, we knew that we were going to get the win. And eventually, like I said, once the run game got started for eight, nine, 10 instead of one, two, three, four, five. That is what we talked about all week. We knew exactly what kind of game it was going to be, and it worked out the way that we thought it did."
Q: Is there anything that goes through your mind when Maxx Crosby falls on your knee the way he did?
Burrow: "No. Have you ever known me to care about big hits. I don't think so."