Skip to main content

Everything Zac Taylor, Joe Burrow, and Joe Mixon Had to Say After Beating the Panthers


Head coach

How was it to see Joe Mixon play so well today?

       "Great. He ran hard, a lot of yards after contact, finished off a lot of runs there, had some big ones for us. So, really happy that he had the day that he had. Franchise-record five touchdowns; had that great catch there with three seconds left in the half, I think it was. So, really tremendous job by him. Great job up front by those linemen, and great job on the perimeter by the receivers, the tight ends, and the run game. Awesome job — that's exactly what we needed. Based on the plan that we had and the run game, everybody stepped up to the plate and delivered, and allowed Joe (Mixon) to have the day that he had."

Why did this rushing performance look different compared to other rushing performances throughout the year?

       "We got more runs called early in this year. I just thought we were efficient on the first couple of drives which allowed us to play that way. The big thing coming into this game was first-down efficiency. I think that's a defense that really does a great job on second-and-seven-plus, making things really hard for you. One of our keys to victory, certainly on the offense side of the ball, is being efficient on first down, and the rushing game allowed us to do that."

How would you assess the defense today, especially in the first half?

       "They set the tone. We wanted to follow up a performance like we had the last time we were at home of protecting our turf. We've got a lot of home games here in the second half of the season coming up, so we've got to be able to set the tone for that. I thought our defense really answered the bell — the shutout in the first half, very few yards. I think they had about 80 yards through three quarters. We had the short field there to start the second half, which was disappointing. We gave up the touchdown there, but aside from that I thought they really answered the bell today."

Why did you respond so well today after the tough loss on Monday?

       "Again, because we were able to move past that quickly. It was easy to us to see why that game got away from us. No overreaction on our part, just keep being the same group of guys, group of men that we expect from ourselves. We expected a performance like this today."

Why is Joe Mixon capable of the day he had today?

       "He got in a great rhythm. Again, that's a credit to him. He did a great job making people pay when they were tackling him and getting those extra yards. I thought the whole unit did a great job supporting him and getting him some really good opportunities that he took full advantage of and then some."

Do you have any injury updates on Chris Evans or Dax Hill?

       "I don't know where it's going to stand. They'll have to do some scans, especially on Chris' knee, Dax's shoulder. I think those are the two that we'll have to get some more information on."

How have your conversations gone with Joe Mixon recently, and how does a performance like today open up the second half of the season?

       "He's a captain for us. There's been some games we've had a style of play where we've relied on the passing game to be explosive and attack defenses and complement it with the run game, and as we've stated many times efficiency in our run calls. There's plenty of times there's been great opportunities for run looks where we've pulled the ball out of his hands and thrown it for great gains. So he just hasn't benefitted, maybe, from those carries that have been turned into productive throws. We're not going to apologize for that. Obviously, great players want the ball. He's a captain and he's handled this thing really well. All of these guys know that sometimes their number isn't called as much, but then there's a game that's going to smack them right in the face where it's games like this. T.B. (Tyler Boyd) a couple weeks ago. Again, that's why we care so much about the character in this locker room of guys that understand the big picture of trying to win and be a great team."

How much can this change what the team can be in the second half of the season, now knowing that there's a proof of concept that works for this team?

       "I feel like we've always been — if you're talking purely offensive — a team that can be flexible from game to game. We're not afraid to pull the trigger on a type of plan that maybe is different than a style that we've played before. I think we've proven that over the last two years that we can adapt to different plans. Guys buy into it, understand it, and some games receivers are going to catch a lot of balls for a lot of yards, and other games we're running the ball and being detailed in the run game. I think those are things you've got to have if you're going to have the type of season we want to have. Our guys understand that and have done a great job responding when needed."

With the way Monday night evolved and then looking at today's game, was there a sense that this would be a run-heavy game?

       "It was clear for us to see why that game got away from us, and move on from it. This is an easy job responding for this group, because we just didn't play well enough last week. Plain and simple. Unfortunately we had that performance, but I knew that these guys would be able to regroup the right way and be focused on this game and know how important this was going into the bye. Focusing on the next game — that's what's so important right now across this league is just to focus on the next game, not look down the horizon at what's to come, but just focus on being a great team and focus on finding the next win."

How important is it to get off to a quick start and set the tone for the game?

       "That was the challenge to our team: 'Whatever unit starts first, set the tone for the game.' And the offense happened to start first and they set the tone, and the defense immediately responded with a three-and-out, if I'm not mistaken. That's the performance that we needed versus a young quarterback that's getting one of his first couple starts. You want them to have to play from behind and be able to adjust that way, so I was really proud of the team for the approach that they took and that they delivered with."

What's going on with Evan McPherson's missed field goals?

       "We'll just have to look at it. I've got a lot of confidence in Evan that he'll be able to respond the right way."

What about Joe Mixon enables him to have a game like that?

       "He always shows up on game day. He practices his tail off — that's always been consistent since as long as I've known him and I'm sure well before I've been here. On game day, he always cranks it up and is ready to go."

What's the difference between being 5-4 this year compared to being 5-4 last year?

       "It's a very similar situation. You're in the mix, and you've just got to take it one game at a time. There's still a long season yet to go. I know it's at the halfway point now. But again, we've just got to be very narrowly focused on our next opponent which is Pittsburgh. First of all, just recovering this week and just making sure we're rested, hopefully start to get some guys back a little bit, and start to make this run starting with Pittsburgh. Big divisional game, obviously. We haven't taken care of business in the division, which is always key, so it's a great opportunity to get that on the right track."

Does being 5-4 feel better this year because you have a win going into the bye week?

       "I don't know. I can't put myself back in the shoes of last year. I know the situation: we lost two in a row and had a tough divisional loss going into the bye. I don't really remember how I felt, but I think our guys are in a good place right now."

How do you feel now?

       "I'm just glad we took care of business. That's the biggest thing coming into this game. It's a dangerous football team. They've got a lot of change going on, and that frees them up to be aggressive in some areas. So, you're always ready for some unscouted looks and some situations they could throw at you. I was glad that our team came out and set the tone and established dominance early in that first half."

How do you feel about how the secondary played today?

       "From what I saw, I saw Eli (Apple) knocking a ball out. I saw Cam (Taylor-Britt) contest some throws, Jalen (Davis) trying to make some plays on some balls. We'll watch the tape and clean it up to see how consistent it was. But, first glace I thought it was pretty solid."

How nice of a balance do Trenton Irwin and Trent Taylor give the offense?

       "That room in general — we move those guys around a lot. The personnel was not so easy to handle. I was late getting a couple of them in which was stressful for those guys, knowing where to line up, because we move them around so much. Troy (Walters) has done a great job all week, and Brad (Kragthorpe), making sure that they're aware of how we're going to utilize them, what their role is going to be, and then they did a great job maximizing it with their performance this week."

Who earned game balls?

       "The turnover guys, Germaine (Pratt) and Jessie (Bates III), and then (Joe) Mixon. Obviously, the franchise-record five touchdowns, 211 yards — awesome performance by him."



What are your thoughts on today's performance?

       "It was the first complete game of the year. It's how we expect to play every week. Run game, defense, pass game, it was all clicking today. We have to find that sauce and keep it in our back pocket for the rest of the year."

What was it like watching Joe Mixon go out there and have a day like that?

       "That's what we expect from Joe. He's been the same guy every single week, working hard. He hasn't had the production I know he wants, but today was a big breakout for him. Hopefully we can carry that momentum out of the bye week."

Is today the team's real identity?

       "You'd love to do exactly what we did today. We're running the ball, we're play action, and we're dropping back, throwing screens. When you're multiple like that it's tough to stop."

If you rush the ball like that, it's pretty easy to get the results you want ...

       "If we run the ball like that, it's tough to lose a game when you run for 200 yards."

What can you do to keep pace in the playoff picture?

       "We have to keep winning. We have a big one Sunday night in Pittsburgh. Have to get one in our division. Then we have to find wins, scrape them out any way we can. Not every day will be like this so we have to find ways to win games down the stretch where it's not perfect but you find a way to win."

Was is the key to finding that consistency?

       "Keep practicing hard. If we run the ball like we did today, it's tough to stop us. We're getting healthy again; we'll get some key guys back after the bye and continue to get guys back after that. That's going to be big for us, to get everyone healthy and ready to go for a big divisional game on the road."

How important was that opening possession?

       "When you start like that, you know it's going to be a good day. Those kinds of teams, you have to jump out early on. They have a good defense and their quarterback is playing well, they can score points in bunches. You have to jump out early on them like we did, and put them to sleep."

The defense brought the ball back to you pretty quickly in the first quarter ...

       "They were playing great. They were affecting the passer, mixing up coverages, making all the throws hard. The run game was great. I thought the defense did unbelievable, just like they did all year."

How would you grade the Remember the Titans celebration after Jessie Bates III's interception?

       "I can't say I saw it, so I'll have to watch the tape."

Was there a cue for your paparazzi celebration with Joe?

       "I don't know, it felt like that was the one."

You said three games ago the next three games would define your season. How do you feel about the last three games?

       "It was some good, some bad, being 2-1 in those games. It was a decent job. Two games that were complete games and one that was horrible. We have to find that consistency game to game. We're trying to score points any way we can and continue to get better in the run game, pass game, special teams. This is the stretch that's going to determine that."

When did you put Monday behind you?

       "You had to right afterwards. There wasn't a lot of joy in the locker room this week. It's good to win a game like this in the fashion that we did going into the bye, so everyone can enjoy the bye, get their bodies right, and be ready to go."

What's the difference between this year's 5-4 record and last years?

       "Hopefully nothing, we come out like we did last year."

Did you sense any frustration with Joe Mixon this year?

       "No, Joe's a great teammate, great guy. When we lose a game everybody is going to be frustrated and feel like they can play better. But Joe's a team guy."

How nice was it to get Trent Taylor and Trenton Irwin involved?

       "Those guys were awesome for us today. When you lose a guy like Ja'Marr Chase, you can't replace him with one guy. It's going to be by committee. Trent and Trenton were awesome, Mike Thomas too. We handed a couple of jet sweeps off to Trent, Trenton was robbed of a touchdown, which we would have been super excited for him. Mike didn't catch a ball but was blocking his tail off in the run game and in special teams. Those guys really stepped up for us."

How is Ja'Marr Chase doing?

       "He's good. He feels good. We're going to take it slow. I know he wants to get back out there. It's a long process, so we'll see. Maybe after the bye, we'll see."

How does your body feel?

       "I feel great. Body feels really good, it'll be good to get back in the weight room and get my body right going into the stretch."

Do your bye week workouts change at all?

       "They're more intense. You try to get some strength back you lost in the last nine weeks. I always look forward to the bye week lifts to get your body back to what it should be."

Any bye week plans?

       "I haven't decided yet. I'll probably just sit on the couch and watch TV and the games next weekend."

Would you rather enter the bye week with this record or 6-1, given your competitive nature?

       "No. I'd much rather be 6-1 than 5-4. But we are where we're at, and we have everything in front of us. We just have to take care of business."

Did you watch the LSU game last night?

       "I did, yeah, it was a fun win. Fun to watch. Good win."

What was going through your mind when LSU went for two to win the game?

       "I thought it was the right decision. I always think going for two to win is right."

The tight ends were active today ...

       "Those guys really stepped up for us. Mitch Wilcox has really found his stride this year. He's been playing great all year. Run game, pass game, special teams, he understands what we want out of it all. Obviously Hayden Hurst continues to make plays when he gets opportunities. They're stepping up and it's good to see."



Do you come into a game with five touchdown celebrations in the tank?

       "I wasn't even thinking about those celebrations. I was just excited we came out and executed. We were firing on all cylinders and got the run game going. The celebrations came on the run."

What was it about the run game today?

       "It was the way we came out. We came out with fire and were physical. You could tell the way the linemen, tight ends, and receivers were blocking. We had a balanced attack today. Zac kept calling the runs, and we were trying to be as physical as possible. I'm happy for my teammates."

What's it like to have this type of performance?

       "It feels great to be able to have a special game. I knew at some point the dam would break, and it did today. I'm very excited for my teammates. The way these guys come to work and the trust we have, it's a blessing."

What was it like running today? What did you see?

       "I was hitting the holes hard. Those guys blocked their butt off. The way the receivers blocked today played a huge part. I'm happy it all worked."

Do you feel like you've been able to handle the ebbs and flows of a season as a veteran?

       "I guess so. At the end of the day you have to approach it week to week. The fact that everything is coming together, I'm very excited. We stayed true to what we wanted to do. I'm happy how everyone fought for it and did the right things."

Did you have any conversations with Zac about establishing the run?

       "No. At the end of the day, we're all professionals, we know what we have to do. Everybody has a job and we're all on the same page. Most important is coming out with a victory and we did that today. We finally got that nasty taste from Monday night out of our mouth. I won't get too high or too low. The fact we stayed true to the game, we'll always do that. I'm living in the moment, and will keep on doing whatever I can. I'm excited to go into the bye week with a win."

When did you know today would be special?

       "After the second or third carry is when I thought we'd have a running game today. I'm very excited I was able to deliver for my teammates. It was long overdue. I'm very thankful to God for having these tough times. You never get too low, you never get too high. Being able to sit down and have real friends, real people, real family, be there for you when things aren't going your way, and to make sure you stay true to yourself, is basically what I did the last few weeks. We'll keep building off of this, but I'm very excited for how everybody came out and battled."

You guys seemed to have a more diverse attack today besides just zone, with more pulling and trapping. Is that correct?

       "For sure. (Bengals run game coordinator) Frank (Pollack) — he did a hell of a job scheming it up. Zac, he stayed true and kept dialing it up, and I'm sure he believed in us, like 'We can come out here and be physical today,' and we actually did. Not that we can in any other game, but the fact that he stayed with the runs and (got) us in a groove to be able to be physical, running downhill, we needed that as a whole. I felt like, with the backs, the O-line and the tight ends and even the receivers, because I don't know if you all (saw it), but they were blocking their (tails) off today. Without (those) guys (the WRs), I wouldn't be here at this podium. I'm just very thankful and blessed to be here in this situation."

The cliché in the NFL is when it gets late in the season, you better be able to run the ball. Is that one reason today the physical aspect of the game was so important?

       "I guess so. At the end of the day, we try to do whatever we can to impose our will and get the team to really know what type of game it's going to be. The way that Zac and especially (Bengals offensive coordinator Brian) Callahan (helped prepared us). He (Callahan) had a hell of a meeting on Saturday. You could just tell the hunger and everything in his eyes and we had great preparation all week, but the way that Callahan was getting at us on Saturday — I just loved how he came in with an edge in that meeting and basically everything that he said. We made it happen today, so we spoke it into existence."

Was he talking about the running game?

       "He was mainly talking about us in all phases. When a run is called, we have to deliver, no matter how many carries we get. And when we're in the pass game, no matter what is called, we must do whatever we can to not get bored with what the defense wants to give us. And if they're going to give us five (yards), we have to go take it and also get the yards after the catch or yards after the carry. Man, we did that today."

Joe, you said that last few weeks with the run game struggling, you talked to your family and friends about staying in the moment. Were you doing some soul searching over that period? Was it frustrating for you going through that stretch?

       "Yeah, I mean (it was) definitely frustrating, but at the end of the day, I've never had to do (any) soul searching. I know what type of player — I know what type of back — that I am. It's really about staying true to who you are, no matter the situation and what's going on and the trials and tribulations that you go through. I used to go home and, you know, get that extra in. I'm still going to keep doing that, and I'm going forever do that until I'm done playing this game. But at the end of the day, I felt like staying true to the game and true to yourself — I felt like that definitely played a big dividend today. Like I said, I'm living in the moment, and I'm blessed to be here in this situation."

Where is your fifth touchdown ball going?

       "Probably to my momma."

Offensive tackle La'el Collins said Joe showed today 'He's still that guy.' Did you feel like you had to prove you're still that guy?

       "No. To be honest, I tried to come out here and prove to myself that I'm still that dude, and I'm going to forever continue to do that. Like I said, bro, just being able to come out here. And, I'm going to be honest — I work a hard six days out of the week. The day that that we don't come in here, I still work hard. I still go to work, I'm still doing all the little things that I can to make myself better, to make sure I'm still ready. No matter how frustrating the situation is, or no matter how frustrating your play is.

       "I just stayed true to myself during these tough times. To be able to have, like I said, a day like this ... Bro, it feels great. But like I said, I'm never going to live too high in the moment, and I'm never going to get too low. At the end of the day, I just appreciate the people that stuck around and still believe in me. I'm (going to) forever believe in myself, and that's all that matters."

Along those lines, you've been a popular topic with people wondering if can you still make people miss. Do you hear much of that, and does it affect you at all?

       "Yeah, I heard a little bit, (but) to be honest, I'm (not) even on social media anymore. My teammates will say, 'people say this' or 'people say that,' but I just block that (stuff). I don't worry about that.

       "Like I said, my teammates know what type of player I am, and most importantly, I know what type of player I am. So, to be able to come out here today have a complete game and pass protection when my number was called, and delivered for my teammates, Burrow and the receivers, to be able to hit the right holes and do all the right things to have a complete game, you can't ask for (a) much better day. I'm just happy that I rose to the occasion. My game rose, I'm here in this position, and I never take it for granted I'm just going to keep on building."

Doing celebrations. You did 'The Silencer' celebration, LeBron James' style. Was there any meaning to that, or was it just a coincidence?

       "I'm going to be honest — that just came to me. I remember putting my foot in the ground, and no matter whoever (was) in front of me, I'm getting in the end zone. I just remember falling, kind of flipping over, and and I got up and it just hit me, like, 'Do The Silencer,' and that's what I did. It definitely was on the fly, because I definitely did not have it in my head that I was going to do it."

The 2019 season was a tale of two halves for you. Obviously, the second half of that year, you had a ton of success. Do you think this performance kind of set up the run game over the next eight games after the bye?

       "This performance, I feel like we're only going to build (from this). The way that we were balanced today, I feel like it's going to pay huge dividends down the road because we ran the ball effectively and also we threw the ball effectively. When (Ja'Marr) Chase comes back and we start opening the offense even more, because the run game is going and the pass is on, I feel like it's only going to get crazier. But at the end of the day, we just have to keep on coming out and going to work, and executing the game plan and just keep on building off of every performance."

How good does it feel though to prove your haters wrong today?

       "To be honest, I'm not worried about what anyone is talking about, to be real with you. At the end of the day, I just came out there to prove my teammates — which I owe to them — and to myself that I'm still a high-caliber player that I know I am and at the end of the day, have my play show I'm still (capable). I'm not worried about (what people say because I) block that out. I don't see it."

No Bengals player had ever scored five touchdowns in a game before and only four players in NFL history have scored six. How aware of that were you during the game today? What does it mean for you to be in that conversation?

       "I was so locked in the game I wasn't hearing any of that franchise talk. I didn't even know I broke a record until they told me. I was locked in, just trying to do all the little things right so that (they) would take care of the big things. It showed today and I'm just very happy and excited for my teammates to get that nasty taste out of our mouth from Monday. We came out here on Sunday and we won, and going into the bye week, we've just got to keep on stacking."

What was the key to finding the balance versus how you played on Monday?

       "At the end of the day, we just have to come out and not beat ourselves. I feel like going into that game, emotions were high and we were down a guy that's a huge part of our offense and trying to figure out what we're going to do to be balanced because at the end of the day, we've got to figure it out regardless if (Ja'Marr) Chase is there, I'm there or anyone (is missing). Someone has to step up and we didn't know what we were going to be and to be honest, we (didn't) go out there and execute. We beat ourselves. They had a hell of a performance (but) at the end of the day, we had to get that (taste) out of our mouth by locking in going into this week. Just knowing the coaches still have that drive and we're going to bounce back. We've got to bounce back. (My) teammates are still working hard, showing up, going to meetings — everyone's still on a high. It's a great feeling to come off a loss and come in the locker room and not see your teammates hung low. Everyone's got their heads up, are in great spirits and playing ping-pong, still talking — that's a great thing to see. Everyone still trusts and believes in each other. Everyone's going to stay like a brotherhood and that's what we've got to do moving forward, just keep building and getting better. (If we do that), great things will happen."

What was your favorite touchdown you scored today?

       "I don't know. To be honest, I don't even remember the runs. I just remember one where I bounced (outside) and scored on the left side. Other than that, I don't have a favorite. They're all good when they happen."

You were on the sideline recreating your touchdown reception. What did you see on that play and worked for you?

       "I just remember — we were in empty (formation); I think we had a four-yard completion maybe? I don't remember exactly how many yards, but I just remember the corner chirping (at me) and I told him, 'When you see me, you what time it's going to be,' to say the least."

Did you say that when you lined up?

       "Hell yeah — he knew what it was. Anyway, like I said, I remember going to the sideline and telling Zac (Taylor), 'We're lining up in empty again?' He said 'Yup.' I remember it was maybe third-and-10 and I ended up going in and I said (to Joe Burrow), "Joe, what are we doing?' (and he said) 'Just run a fade (route).' I lined up on the right exactly where (the cornerback) was and I ended up releasing on a fade and I saw Burrow come out and scramble and all of sudden, (the defender) tried to hold me, so I just shook him off. I saw Joe throw the ball and said, 'Man, I better catch this.' I caught that thing, toe-tapped it and it was just a great feeling. It was a great feeling for me and knowing Burrow trusts me as me as a receiver is a great feeling, too. Just having that extra tool for him is a great thing."

Who was chirping at you — was it No. 8 Jaycee Horn?

       "No, I think it was (No.) 24 (CJ Henderson?)"

Every game, when the defense comes out on the field, you're always the first person there to greet them. Why is that important to you?

       "To be honest, it's just (part of being in) a leadership role. I've been doing that since probably my rookie or second year in the league. It's just something that you guys would call a superstition; that's just something that I do going into the game. Those guys come out and I'm just like 'Let's go — it's that time.' Everyone comes out, there are handshakes and all that. That's just something that I've always done since I've been here and will continue to do."

Whose idea was the photo celebration after the first touchdown?

       "I'm not going to lie — that happened on the fly. Literally. (Joe) Burrow was (yelling) 'Joe Mix! Joe Mix!' I'm looking around and I see him and he (made a photo taking motion with his hands) and I was like 'Okay!' That's just how we've been as a team. That stuff was like how he had it last year with the chemistry and how off the fly, we can get in things like that, just so quickly with everyone on the same page. That's just something you can't teach. That's just something in you. To see Joe come out there and do something like that, it almost shocked me."

The last touchdown, the jump-cut on the edge, what was going through your mind on that play?

       "I believe that was on the left side. I just remember pressing the line of scrimmage and the (offensive line) were getting them blocked off and sealed off. We had a hat-on-a-hat and then I just saw the corner right there and I was like if I make him miss and get around the edge, I know I'm going to score. (That's) literally what I was thinking pre-snap and what happened post (snap). I just pressed the hole, made a jump cut, stiff-armed the corner and was off to the races. I knew if I got rolling, they weren't going to catch me."

You were counting it out, right?

       "Yeah, I just knew and figured at that point, (it was a) five (touchdown) day."

Have you ever had a five-touchdown game before?

       "Yeah, a few times in my career. In terms of literally high school, college — I mean, it's obviously my first time (doing it in) the NFL. But I've had that happen a few times."