Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor
Your thoughts on what the game devolved to in the second half?
"It was the third quarter in a nutshell. And they came out, had three straight scoring drives and then we had three-and-outs. And I've got to put our guys in a better position, too. We have to make plays that are there, but at the same time, I've got to be accountable for that and put us in better spots. We played the game how we expected it to be played in the first half, and then weren't good enough in the third quarter and that's where it got away."
How about when everybody started losing their cool a little bit, do you feel the officials lost control of the football game at any point?
"I'll just ... I'll have to go to the next question on that one."
I understand. How do you prevent ... I mean, it's a tough situation. It turned into something other than football. I'm sure the league will not be happy about what it turned into. What did you tell your football team after the game?
"I'm proud of the effort they gave. And they're playing hard and had some calls go against them that we'll have to look at, to be quite frank. But I thought our guys were playing hard and got put in a tough spot there."
Only 30 yards of total offense in the second half. What was happening there that caused you guys to struggle so much offensively?
"First-down efficiency, right off the gate. Two first-down runs that put us second-and-11, and then I think we were in first-and-10, second-and-11 and third and-11 the first two drives that half. That's where they captured the momentum. They went down and scored a touchdown and then kicked a field goal to go up what would have been 16-7 at that point. And we had two straight three-and-outs there, and that's unacceptable on our end."
What did losing WR Tyler Boyd do to your offense and how did that affect it?
"It's a challenge. They played man coverage about every single snap of the game. You need your best receivers out there. But they lost a good corner as well. We both lost guys."
Did you talk to Head Coach Brian Flores at all after the game; if so, what was said?
"We'll keep that between us, but, yeah, we're good."
It looked like in the first half the short passing game was paying dividends for you, particularly the outside, the tight end screens, the receiver screens, the throw to WR Tyler Boyd. It seemed like you were attacking that area of the field pretty darn well early in the game?
"We obviously left three points on the field there in the first half that we should have had. Whatever we had, four possessions, maybe we should have had 10 points in the first half. Just left points on the board there. But we playing the way we expected this game to be played, and needed to continue on at that rate and we just didn't do that in the second half."
What do you say to WR Mike Thomas after back-to-back penalties there?
"We'll watch the first one, first of all. And then the second one, he got there a little too soon. That's obvious. We know that. But again that returner is a heck of a returner. That's the number one punt return unit in the league. He does not fair catch the ball. So you've got to put pressure on him. Of course we don't want to do it before the catch point. We want to play within the rules. But our guys were playing hard. It was unfortunate. You hope he's fine. But again there's no ill will there by Mike Thomas; I can promise you that. He's just being a gunner, trying to go down there and make a play."
They called personal foul on the first one. Did they say he hit him in the head instead of getting there early, or what was the call?
"I don't know what they said. I don't know what they said."
They didn't explain anything to you, no?
"Sometimes they explain."
Should there have been another flag? WR Tyler Boyd got flagged, Boyd got flagged for 15. Should they have been an offsetting?
"That's not what they said."
Did they explain that well because that was obviously a confusing sequence?
"It's a very confusing sequence. Two guys got ejected and there was one flag thrown. That's all there was to it."
Obviously you saw the first push that started the whole thing. How did they think WR Tyler Boyd fell into all the people that he fell into, I guess?
"There was a lot of eyes on the situation. I was right there watching the whole thing. There was a lot of eyes on it."
To have a game that kind of unravels like this and there's fighting and it's all a mess, people are going to say it looks like you lost control of the team. What do you say to people that say it looks like you've lost control of the team right now?
"I think our guys got put into some tough spots, you know? And those are two core guys that got kicked out of the game, Shawn Williams and Tyler Boyd. And again we don't ever want that. We don't ever want to ever ... We need those guys; we're counting on those guys. And everyone's got to maintain their composure, myself included. We just have to look at what happened, but I know they were both very frustrated with what was going on. Shawn got hurt there on a blind-side block. And 'T.B.' (Tyler Boyd) felt he got hit way late out of bounds. But again we've got to maintain our composure and be better than that."
Did something unforeseen happen with CB Darius Phillips to go into the game with only three cornerbacks, or was that by design?
"He was sick."
Did none of the practice squad guys travel? You couldn't call anybody else up because they weren't here?
"Didn't have COVID. I mean, no, we weren't in a position with the way the inactives were working to get another guy up there. Jalen Davis was up, so we had the four safeties, we had the four corners. That's how we played the game."
Is this game an example of the retaliator is always going to be caught, never the instigator, it's always the guy that retaliates?
"I think our focus needs to be we've got to play better when we're on the field. Again, that's what frustrates me the most is that two weeks really we've played the first half how the game is going to need to be played. There's going to be ugly games sometimes that can come down to a late score to see who wins, and we were not efficient enough in the third quarter and really all three phases there. We put ourselves in position there how we didn't want to play the game in the fourth quarter, particularly on offense, dropping back and throwing the ball, and gave up some sacks and we put ourselves in a tough spot."
Last year the game against Miami, probably even though a loss, had you all feeling you were going in the right direction. What do you feel like after a loss like today?
"Frustrated. I mean, the work that we put in and the way we feel when we walk on the field, to start the game, and really quite frankly the way we walked into halftime the last two weeks. Just it's frustrating when these games, you don't pull them out at the end. It's very frustrating."
Any indication yet how serious the injuries are to OT Jonah Williams and OB Brandon Allen?
"I do not know that yet, yeah."
I guess at this point, it might be early, but OB Kevin Hogan, what would be his status? And how far along might he be? And do you have to go back into the quarterback pool again, potentially?
"We're not there yet. We'll evaluate all our players after this game and make those decisions, but we're not there after the game."
OB Brandon Allen
The injury, it looked like you fell on the football when you got hit by DE Shaq Lawson and taken to the ground. Did you get the wind knocked out of you, I guess, first of all? And is there anything else that's bothering you, secondly?
"Yeah, it was just my wind. And I knew what it was. I've had it done before. I was kind of trying to get the words out that I was fine, but just wasn't really able to get my breath back for a while there. So couldn't really spit out those words."
Did the Dolphins do anything differently in the second half? The first half you guys were doing a pretty good job with your screens, your receiver screen, your tight end screen, and getting the ball out quickly to the perimeter. Did they make any changes defensively that kind of took that away from you?
"Yeah, I thought they did a good job making adjustments in the second half. Obviously, we schemed them up good. We were ready for their zero pressure and a lot of, like you said, quick screens in the run game and stuff. They did a good job in the second half. They were playing it differently, doing some double coverage on certain guys. And we weren't able to execute through some of that press man they were showing us. And, like I said, we've just got to be better. Obviously when they make adjustments, we make adjustments. And we just got out-executed."
You looked more comfortable in the first half this week than you were the last week. Was that the case? And how was the loss of WR Tyler Boyd, how did that affect you offensively?
"Obviously, losing Tyler was big for us, but I thought guys were stepping up. It happens in football. Obviously, not the way it happened today but you do lose guys and people behind them got to step up and be able to make plays. When he went down, it was tough for us, but I think we were really trying to bounce back. We did some things offensively, moved some guys around and did the best we could to get our playmakers the ball."
Did you feel more comfortable this week at quarterback than you did last week?
"Yeah, you know, I think I was. Obviously, anytime you get more time in practice with reps and being in the huddle with those guys and executing plays with those guys you get more comfortable. I think it just comes with, like I said, it just comes with getting all those accumulated reps. And I think the more and more that we do it the more and more comfortable I'll be."
Seemed to be a different kind of edge to the game after WR Tyler Boyd and CB Xavien Howard both got ejected. How much did it affect the mood of the team throughout the rest of the contest?
"You try not to let those things affect you too much. Obviously, it was a big ordeal going on there. I'm not going to say much about it but it is what it is and both guys got ejected. You have to bounce, like I say, you've got to bounce back from that and guys have to step up."
How tough is it to get back in the flow after the officials take a half an hour to sort out who is going to be ejected, who is going to be penalized? I mean, that whole thing was ridiculous. That wasn't the National Football League. I'm sure the league is not going to be happy.
"I'm not going to say it's impossible but it was tough. It took easily 20 minutes to get it all figured out. And it is tough to come back and get back into a rhythm. But those are the cards that everyone was dealt. So there's no excuses for not picking right back up where we were and getting it going."
Bengals S Jessie Bates
Real physical football game. You were extremely physical yourself in the first half. The game obviously degenerated, though, into something that you don't want it to degenerate into. What's your reaction to all of it?
"It's hard obviously when you're losing. The thing I like about what we're doing is we continue to fight. I just continued to challenge the guys in the huddle. We'd give up a big play - they're down there on the goal line - I just continued to preach, 'We cannot give up a touchdown; we cannot give up a touchdown.' And we held our own, I felt like. I think we held the team to 19 points back to back weeks. Doesn't happen a lot in the NFL. Not moral victories or anything like that. But I like the energy that we played with on defense today."
In the first half, it seemed like you really had OB Tua Tagovailoa, I don't know about befuddled, but he wasn't real comfortable. Did they do anything differently in terms of the way they attacked in the second half as opposed to the first half?
"Yeah, I think they sped it up a little bit more in the second half. That's exactly what they did actually. In the first half, I think we stopped the run, we eliminated the explosive plays. And then in the second half, I think they got us on our heels when they were going hurry up and that empty formation that they continually go into, they kind of got us backed up. And they were moving the ball pretty well. But like I say, we were continuing to fight, and we were giving up three points and I'll live with that at any day."
Did the play at the end of the half with WR Tyler Boyd, did that change everything? You guys are looking at going in 10-3?
"No, I think on defense you kind of like that stuff. It gets you going even more throughout the game. Tyler doesn't play on defense, so I mean, it didn't really affect us on defense. I think we continued to play with the energy. Like I said, I'm just proud of the guys continuing to fight."
I think they went 0-for-8 or 0-for-9 on third down before they converted. You guys did a hell of a job on third down. What was the key to success there?
"I think we had a good idea. (Defensive Coordinator) Coach Lou (Anarumo) had a really good idea what they wanted to do. Tua (Tagovailoa), like I said, at the beginning of the week he doesn't check a lot at the line as far as how 'Fitz' (Ryan Fitzpatrick) does it, so we had a really good feel for that. But in the second half I don't think they got any third down situations and they were just moving the ball really well. So something I continue to preach about; we've got to be more consistent. And that's something that we've got to continue to work on."
Obviously, the team keeps on losing, but you, individually, are having a good season. I know you're not a selfish player, but can you take solace in the fact that you know you're getting a lot of recognition from outside the locker room with your individual play on the field?
"That only means so much. I play this game to win football games. And I'm here, I feel like I'm a leader of this team on the defensive side. And my main goal is to win football games. Like I said, like I continue to say, as long as I continue to do what I got to do, live right, make sure my family's good, God will take care of the rest of that. I only look at national media when I need to, but right now I'm just focusing on building the right environment around here."
You mentioned you might look Head Coach Brian Flores up give him a what's-up after he gave you such effusive praise and how good a player you are during the week. Did you get a chance to acknowledge it?
"Pregame I was able to go over and dap him up. It's just a "What's up, man, I appreciate you," stuff like that. I just like what he stands for and I support everything he does."
WR Tee Higgins
I know the competitor you are, when you did the "Edwin Moses" and high hurdled over the defender the way you did, total disregard for your body. Obviously, got nicked up a little bit though and Head Athletic Trainer Paul Sparling ruled you out. First question is, what's the injury? Second question is, do you think twice about going up, up and away like that again?
"The injury, just had a little hamstring tweak, but I'm a playmaker. Playmakers try to make plays and I tried to make a play. So if it comes about again, I'll do it again."
No second thoughts about it? No, I'm going to ... And obviously in the situation in the game, it's just like no matter what, no matter what the situation you're going to go out and give it everything you've got every snap?
"100 percent. That's just who I am. I just go out there and try to make a play. I call myself a playmaker, so that's what I try to do every play."
X and O wise and mindset wise, how did things change for you when WR Tyler Boyd got ejected?
"He's a big part of our offense. But when he got ejected, we talked and we just got to step it up as a receiver, as a receiver corps. It didn't happen today. And we didn't come out with a W, so."
Did they do anything defensively differently on the back end? I noticed that different guys were covering different receivers at different times. The football game, was it just determined what you guys were doing formationally?
"Preparing for them, we saw a lot of zeros, a lot of (Cover) 1. And towards the end of the game they started playing Cover 2. We didn't think they were ever going to do that. They showed it. And I just think we weren't ready for it."
You don't see two teams come together like that very often. What is that balance like for you in terms of trying to stick up and protect your teammates, but not do anything that's going to hurt you or the team?
"Once I saw that, I tried to go out there and just separate guys. And it's hard to do. There's grown men out there. Some are way bigger than me. But just got to still step in there and take over for my teammates. They're family, and I would do anything for family."
How much did it affect the flow of the game when the officials took 20, 25 minutes to sort everything out after that melee and such in terms of penalties, who is involved, ejections all that stuff? How much did that screw the game up flow-wise?
"It was crazy it took so long. But I guess we lost an edge. You can't lose an edge when something like that happens. You've got to stay ready, stay warm, stay focused and come out and fire."
View game action photos from the Bengals Week 13 game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.
TE Drew Sample
It looked like early in the football game, the screen game, getting the ball out quickly, screening to the tight end, wide receivers doing a good job blocking, that paid some dividends for you early on, didn't it?
"Yeah, we had a good game plan going into it. We knew they were going to try to do some different things. That was one of the ways that we had kind of dialed up to take advantage of some of the looks they gave. And we were able to make some good, positive plays there in the first half."
And then to return the favor, the receivers were blocking for you, and you get a great block for WR Tyler Boyd and he takes it to the house, 70 yards. How did it feel being an integral part of that play?
"That was great. We knew they were going to get in those zero looks. And teams that have struggled versus them have not been able to have answers. And we knew that play had a chance to go big the whole week. And we were able to execute it. OB was able to get to the sideline. I was able to block my guy. 0-line was able to give 'B.A.' (Brandon Allen) enough time. So it was a well-executed play across the board. And it felt good having that long touchdown."
The offense played, I guess, okay in the first half. But things kind of fell off the rails there in the second half. What happened?
"They made some adjustments and so did we. I just think we weren't really able to get in as good of a rhythm in the second half. We weren't executing as well in the first half. We were kind of grinding it out in the first half. The second half we weren't really able to sustain any drives. So I think that was one of the things that hurt us for sure."
Did they back off the blitz a little bit or did they keep?
"They kind of attacked it a different way. They didn't really bring much zero. They've done that a lot with teams. They kind of try to play man, give different fronts and different looks. We were hurting them with some of our play-action stuff in the first half. But in the second half I don't think we were able to get any rhythm going and didn't execute as well as I think we could have."
Did they do anything the run game to take away the run?
"They did. They kind of moved the front around. Tried to ... I think they had some injuries too, so that might have played a part in it, too. But they were giving us different looks. Like I said, we weren't able to execute against them."
When they went Cover 2 toward the end of the football game, the latter stages of the football game. Did that really surprise you?
"Not necessarily. We knew that they put basically everything on tape. They pretty much do it all. So when they kind of got way from more their pressure stuff, we knew that was going to put them into zone looks and man. So we were ... I don't think it was unexpected. Like you said, they've shown a little bit of everything, so we were prepared for them to do that, to mix it up against us."
Don't see five ejections in a game very often. Did it feel chippy and a little over the top from the get-go? Or do you think that maybe the ejections right before half kind of set things off?
"I'm not really sure. I feel like probably the ejections for us kind of set it off. They're tough-nosed football team. We were blocking in the trenches. It didn't seem really chippy until that point. But obviously it's a ... different things happen. It's really hard to say."
Did you think that was a turning point? You had a shot to go up 10-3 there. What do you think that kind of impact had on you, that play?
"Yeah, I think that was tough. Obviously losing 'T.B.' (Tyler Boyd}, having those penalties and not getting points on the drive. And we had kind of a good drive going. I think that definitely hurt us in the long run."
Have you ever been in a game where the officials take 20 minutes at least to sort things out like they did and assess penalties? How hard was it to restart the engine?
"That was definitely ... That felt like a college game. I think we did a decent job of being ready to play after those. But that's just something that you really can't control. The refs, they got to do their thing, and we've got to go out there and play when it's time to play.'