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What Zac Taylor, Joe Burrow And The Bengals Said After The Win At Denver

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Denver. The Bengals won 15-10. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Denver. The Bengals won 15-10. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


On how DE Khalid Kareem's fumble recovery affected the game

"It's game ball worthy, no question about that. It's 15-10 and they are driving there in that situation and a touchdown puts us in a tough spot so a really big play by him to step up and take that ball away on a fumble or an interception or whatever they are going to call that play. Really a tremendous effort by him.

On his general thoughts on the game

"Just a tough all-around performance from the whole team. No panic, great poise. You've probably been able to tell from my tone this week, I have a ton of respect for the Denver Broncos, a ton of respect for their coaching staff and players. They play the right way, they coach the right way. 15 to 10 sounds about right when you play them and one of the things particularly that their defense does is make you panic. They make you panic and force plays and turn the ball over and then their offense capitalizes. I was really proud of our offense, just taking what they are giving us and not overreacting. Some three-and-outs, we knew it was going to be tough but our defense played their tails off today. They really sent a message to the league that we've got a hell of a defense. We talk about it a lot about these other defenses, but our guys step up and make the plays when they need to. They really enabled us to play the way on offense to be able to get this win so hats off to the defense. The special teams unit really did a great job managing field position, drawing some penalties on some of those punts we had. [P] Kevin [Huber] did a nice job, [K] Evan [McPherson] did a great job and just thought this was an all-around team effort. It wasn't sexy but man, it's what we needed and all our guys stayed patient and it paid off."

On how much DE Trey Hendrickson has impacted the defense this year

"I can't really. He puts so much pressure on the quarterback on every single snap and he makes the plays that are there. A couple times a game, Trey is going to be there to make that play. What enables him to do that is those other ten guys. We gave game balls to the entire defensive tackle group today. Those four guys because when I look up, I see [DT] Larry Ogunjobi, I see [DT] D.J. Reader, [DT] B.J. [Hill], [DT] Josh [Tupou]. Those guys help [DE] Trey [Hendrickson] and [DE] Sam [Hubbard] get those pressures on the quarterback because they are so impactful inside. Just hats off to [Defensive Line Coach] Marion Hobby and his whole unit that contribute to those guys playing so well."

On how impactful it was seeing Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater go down

"It's impactful for everybody in the stadium. You never know what they response is going to be by anybody coming out of that. I've got all the respect in the world for [QB] Teddy Bridgewater. That guy has competed to the highest degree on every team he's play for and on every snap. Just really have a lot of respect for him and how he plays the game, and I'm hopeful that things turn out for the best for him.

On how big the field goal by K Evan McPherson at the end of the first half was

"It was really big because we knew they were going to get the possession to start the second half and we needed some momentum there. It was kind of back and forth there. They called a timeout before our last play and [QB] Joe [Burrow] did a great job. We were going to be pretty aggressive outside to [WR] Ja'Marr [Chase] and [WR] Tee [Higgins] and they change the defense on us. He was patient and took what they gave us. 'T.B.' (WR Tyler Boyd) was there for the big play and how about 'T.B.' making the safety miss on the touchdown. That was great to see, we needed him to step up and make that play. That was a play that he's run before and he really made him pay on that one."

On whether there was a heightened sense of urgency throughout the week due to the playoff implications of the game

"It feels like there has been a lot at stake every week. I know that's an easy thing to say but it's always felt that way. What we knew is that we've been a really good road football team. We've played some really good football on the road. We've got the right mindset when we get on that bus and on that play and show up and play. I thought our guys handled this trip really well with the new protocols and we did virtual meetings last night for the first time in a long time. They guys just handled it really well and put their best foot forward today. We're going to do that same thing next week against Baltimore as well.

On the touchdown to WR Tyler Boyd

"Over the last couple of years, we've run that before and it finally paid off for us. We haven't always connected on it but [QB] Joe [Burrow] did a great job. Let me start with this, I can't remember if it was [TE] C.J. [Uzomah] or [TE] Drew [Sample], one of those guys started the thing off. They came across and shoved out a defensive end and then Joe did a good job buying time in the pocket and then 'T.B.' (WR Tyler Boyd) for the shovel."

On what it was like on the sideline after the Broncos scored the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter

"Business as usual. We've got to go score a touchdown, that was the key. There's no panic from our guys. We've played really good football in the second half. It's been the start that we've needed to jumpstart, and we tried to today. It's a tough group. We took what they gave us and bided our time for the opportunities to come up. I said this last week, I thought [QB] Joe Burrow did a great job not forcing the shots that we were trying to call. He ran sometimes and checked the ball down a couple times and that was a really good job being patient. Our guys were poised, and a good two-play drive and I think our defense got the turnover on the next series so just a really good collective effort there.

On deciding whether to take the taunting penalty on the PAT or kickoff after the Broncos' touchdown

"It's usually touched back on all the kickoffs so to try to get something a little better than the 25-[yard line]. On the PAT, they have a good kicker, so you just expect him to make that and I didn't want to waste the penalty. I'd rather take our chances and see if we can get a little more on the kickoff return."

On CB Eli Apple stepping up this season

"I'm really proud of [CB] Eli Apple and the consistent performance that he's given us. He's playing really well right now. You never take corners thinking they're not going to play, they're always going to play. Every week, you're dealing with injuries so Eli has just done a really good job rising up to the challenge and making a lot of plays for us. That speaks for our whole team. You've got [LB] Joe Bachie stepping in there and doing a great job. You see Michael Thomas going in at safety, Ricardo Allen's been playing safety. [DE] Khalid Kareem got up and made some plays today. We used a bunch of linemen. [OT] Fred Johnson had to step up and start at right tackle so we feel really good about the depth of this team, even our practice squad. They are all ready to play and this coaching staff has done a great job of keeping those guys ready. When their numbers called, there's no falloff. There's no "we need to protect this guy," there's been none of that. Our guys all step up, they have the confidence to do it and that's going to serve us really well in the next couple of weeks."

On the injury to G Hakeem Adeniji

"I believe something with his foot/ankle. I have not yet gotten the details on all the injuries yet."

On the Broncos defense limiting production from the Bengals offense

"They make it hard. They just make it really hard. I'm sitting here trying to think of a play that we just busted or could've [done better]. There's a couple plays where we could've been a little bit better. It's a good football team and that's where they make their hay—by making everything so hard for you. We don't have an edge like 'Hey, I've been in this game before against this exact same defense, it's just different jerseys that they wear'. You have to take those lessons from the Chicago's that we've played. We lost those games because we panicked a little bit and we had some turnovers. We stuck with the run. It wasn't always sexy. We tried to keep ourselves in manageable situations and then [QB] Joe [Burrow] started making some plays with his feet which really jumpstarted us to get those first downs and that's critical when you're your quarterback can do that for you."

On having a defense that is able to limit the opposing offense

"It's everything. We have a lot of belief in our offense and what we're capable of at any moment. Scoring on a two-play drive, scoring on a one-play drive. When our defense plays the way they do, you can just feel it. You feel like they have control over the game, and it allows you to play a pretty dirty game. [You have to] Keep your poise on offense and [I'm] just really impressed with [Defensive Coordinator] Lou Anarumo and the staff and the job the defense has done."

On the Baltimore Ravens losing and propelling them to first place in the AFC North

"We have them next week. Win or lose today for them, we play them next week. We have to take care of business and again, we put ourselves in a position to do all of the things we need to do. We have control of it and that's all that matters."

On RB Joe Mixon's injury

"I really don't know. The guys are pretty excited in the locker room right now. I'll check on those injured guys when they're done."

On K Evan McPherson's performance over the course of the season

"He's a weapon. That's the best way to put it, he's a weapon. My son asked for his jersey for Christmas if that tells you anything. That's usually a pretty good indicator that we like our kicker when you have 11-year-old boys asking for their jersey. [I'm] just proud of the consistency that he's brought to us."


On what was going through his mind as he went into the locker room

"Big win, big win and I was excited about it. Hard-fought win. It's like that sometimes in December in the NFL when you're trying to make playoffs, excited about the win."

On thinking about the next drive after a fumble recovery

"Yeah. In situations like that I always expect to have to go in the game. Our defense came up with a big play. So happy for [DE] Khalid [Kareem]. He's fought injuries all year and to have him make a play like that is awesome. He works really hard. So happy for him."

On what it means to be first place in the division after Baltimore's loss

"Doesn't mean anything right now. We've still got two more division games left that are really going to decide the fate of the division. You know what kind of team Baltimore is, so we are going to enjoy this win tonight and watch the film tomorrow, and then we'll get right on to Baltimore."

On how important it is to win games on the road in December

"It's like that sometimes. Not every game is going to be throwing for three touchdown passes and 300 yards and all that. They're a really, really good defense that has invested a lot in a secondary and linebackers. They're very well coached and you've got to give them credit. But, you know, I was proud of our guys that we made the plays when they counted. Critical third downs, down the stretch. Exciting win."

On planning on running for first downs

"No, it felt good though. I don't know if I would have been able to do that at the beginning of the year. I think that's a testament to my hard work as well as the hard work of all people around me, the trainers, my personal trainer, Zach. So a lot of people have gone into this."

On mindset at the end of the first half

"I knew we had nine seconds, we had a timeout. Might have had two timeouts, can't remember, but I knew we were going to be aggressive. I knew we weren't going to take a knee. We were close to field goal range and with the kicker we have, you have to take a chance there. 'T.B.' (WR Tyler Boyd) did a great job of just getting open for me in the middle of the field and great situational awareness by him understanding that we're down on the clock. We call it down-down timeout situation, we've got to get down and then we call the timeout immediately, so we don't lose any more any more time."

On where his calm, poised nature comes from

"I've put myself in these situations in my head over-and-over again. I think growing up being a three-sport athlete helped me a lot. Just competing over-and-over-and-over again. Whether it's football, basketball, baseball. You put yourself in those situations, eventually you're going to be comfortable in the situations and you're going to be able to perform."

On did you know you were throwing to WR Tyler Boyd on the long touchdown

"Yeah, I mean, that's great call by [Head Coach] Zac [Taylor]. That's a play we repped in practice all week, and really credit to him. He saw what they were doing to us when we got on the ball and kind of hurried up. So we got to that play and that's credit to [Head Coach] Zac [Taylor]. Great call."

On the two-play 68-yard touchdown drive

"Yeah I mean, we have great players that can make plays, whenever they're there. We didn't make as many plays as maybe we would have liked, but we got the job done."

On what they were doing that made that such a good call

"When we got on the ball, we realized that they were playing a little more one-high then they had been, so figured that would be a good call."

On starting with a third-string right tackle today

"[OT] Fred [Johnson] played a lot of football for us last year. So it's great to have an experienced guy like that as your third tackle, so he came and played great for us. I'm proud of that guy. He's probably not had the season he would have expected coming in, but he really performed today and stepped up to the task. Proud of that guy."

On what it like for offense knowing what is on the other side of the ball

"I knew that Broncos were going to have really good defense, it was going to be tough for us to put points on the board. Just like the Raiders game a couple of weeks ago, I knew that I was just going to take care of the ball, be smart with the football, take opportunities when they're there, and kick field goals and put points on the board. And then obviously some games where you come in thinking that way and then turns out different, you got to go win the game in the fourth quarter. You know, that's how last week turned out. You just got to be adaptable as quarterback to take over the game if you need to and manage it if you have to."

On knowing the defense would be this good when going against them in training camp

"Yeah. I think I had a pretty good idea."


On what happened on his incomplete two-point conversion attempt

"They have a great secondary. I'll tip my hat to those guys; I think that's the best secondary that we've faced. [Broncos S Justin] Simmons is long, [Broncos CB Pat] Surtain [II] is long as well. [Broncos S Justin Simmons] was right there, he got a hand in there and made a great play. I wish I would have made that play, which I usually will, but he made a great play."

On how significant it is that the Bengals are in first place in the AFC North and everything is in front of them

"Now that we've got this win, it's down the street. Hopefully, we can get off this game and get back and prepare for Baltimore. That's another huge game—a division opponent and they just lost. So, they're going to come into our place ready to play. I think all of the guys are going to buy in and come in ready to go to war. It's going to be a great fight, but I think we're going to pull it off."

On if this was a game that they needed win to prove that they're still a playoff contender

"Yeah, absolutely. I think that every team knows what type of team we are. We've had a lot of nail-biters in the past and previous games, but we have a solid team all around. We have great special teams, great defense and great offense. I continue to say this week-in and week-out, 'We can correlate everything—when we play right like we did this week, I think that the sky's the limit.' I don't think that we can be beat."


On if he was excited to kick in high altitude

"I was super excited—I've heard stories, but I've never kicked in altitude before. So I was pretty curious on how much of a difference it would actually make. I'd say I noticed a pretty good difference on field goals and kickoffs—balls were flying both ways into the wind, and definitely with the wind, it was flying. So I was excited honestly for this game, to come up here and try to kick in altitude."

On Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor saying that his son asked for his jersey for Christmas

"It means a lot. Just to see that hopefully, I'm making a positive impact in the community with kids growing up and inspiring (kids). It's funny because [Head Coach Zac Taylor] texted me, it might have been after the Jacksonville game, and he's like, 'You've got both of my kids asking for one of your jerseys, thanks a lot! Now I've got to go buy two of your jerseys!' So we've talked about it before. I've asked him and his wife, 'Did you get them their jerseys yet?'. But apparently, they're hard to come by."

On if kicking from 60-yards, both directions, in pregame warmups helped him kick his 58-yard field goal in-game

"Yeah, we just test the waters in pregame to set a target line going into it. It gives me confidence going into the game to say, 'I hit further than 58 yards in pregame. So 58 yards should be no problem during the game.' So you can say it's a little bit of a confidence booster, but you're just testing the waters to see how far you can go."


On if he was excited to face the challenge of the Broncos run game

"Always. It's always good to get challenged by a good team. [It] was a really important game for us. We're trying to get back on track after two losses, so it was great to get a win."

On if he's able to tell when a rhythm is established defensively

"It's just playing together [and] playing fast. You've got guys flying around making plays in the backfield, getting sacks and just feeding off each other's energy. You never know when the play is coming and who the play is coming from, so we just play that kind of defense where everybody's up. It doesn't matter who's on the field. You're expected to make plays and that's what we're trying to do."

On how much seeing an injury like QB Teddy Bridgewater's impacts players and if it affects momentum

"You talk to the guys after that play where [QB] Teddy [Bridgewater] got hurt. We understand [that] it's a momentum shift. The other team is going to play with a lot of emotion. Their starting quarterback got hurt, and [they're] trying to find a way to get back on track so, I told the guys, 'Hey, we've got to find a way to match the intensity because it's going to be one of those types of games.' It was good to get the win."