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Everything Zac Taylor Had To Say After Beating the Buccaneers

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor speaks to officials during the second half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor speaks to officials during the second half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

(On the turning point in today's game)

"Well, I think when we were down 17-0 we had no rhythm on either side of the ball and our guys really just at halftime took a deep breath and said that we can takeover this game. And the first half wasn't what we were about – they had some third and fourth down conversions on defense, offensively we got no rhythm – four straight three-and-outs before halftime and you could just tell we were going to have plenty of possessions in the second half to get things going the right way. I thought our special teams really, really kicked it up a notch – with the kickoff that they tackled inside the 10 [yard line], the punt downed at the two [yard line], the defense forcing four turnovers -- just making plays left and right, everyone stepping up and doing it, and then the offense finishing off those drives. Just an awesome team effort. It was probably one of those games we needed to be quite honest with you – you know, kind of smacked [us] in the mouth a little bit in the first half and then responded the right way. That's a good December win on the road versus a team leading their division. So [I am] really proud of our guys there."

(On his thoughts on the defense's effort despite the injuries)

"I just thought they did a great job stepping up in the second half – all the guys. I saw Jay Tufele in the backfield, Tre Flowers picking off passes, I saw AG (Akeem Davis-Gaither) making plays, Eli Apple – so really, guys just stepped up at every position and this is the type of year where you're going to lose some guys. So, guys need to step up and keep the team going, and I saw a lot of that across the board from a lot of our players through all three phases."

(On the injuries tonight)

"Sam [Hubbard has] got a calf [injury], Cam [Taylor-Britt has] got a shoulder [injury], so we'll just get more information as we go here. I think those were the only two that I know of."

(On the shift in the defense's performance throughout the game)

"There was moments they were playing well. It's just they were stringing some first downs together, they were converting some third downs in that first drive particularly – they had the fourth down conversion in the low red for the touchdown, so we just couldn't get any momentum. And then the offense wasn't helping matters by going three-and-out, so the defense was having to go right back out there. That was just poor team football there in the first half. The second half was the complete opposite and it was good to see from our guys."

(On if he changed anything in the defensive approach throughout the course of the game)

"No, we just settled down – everyone just settled down, found a better rhythm. Again, all the phases worked together and once we got into a better flow, it was the type of football we are used to playing."

(On if there was anything that got the offense going between the first and second halves)

"Just getting first downs. We haven't had that in a while where we hit that lull. We just settled down and found ways to get first downs, and once you get that first down – now obviously the field position was great from what our defense was giving us, it was helpful, gave us momentum – but again, to just get that first, first down in the drive really gets us rolling and that's kind of how we've been all year."

(On if facing some adversity today was a good learning experience for the team)

"It is. You know, we're going to play good teams from here on out and we always want to possess the lead and be able to play from out in front, but there's going to be times that things just don't go your way. And for this team to feel that again… because we haven't had to feel that for a while, that there's still plenty of time left on the clock, no need to panic just take a deep breath and step up. I saw that from everybody."

(On his defense stepping up despite all the injuries)

"Well again, we're going to count on every guy on this roster at this point, and they keep stepping up over and over. No one wants to be the weak link in the defense, and I haven't found the weak link yet, which is a good thing. Guys are just playing good team football – 11 guys out there are on the same page, and it has been really fun to watch all those guys step up when their opportunity is called."

(On if he's ever seen five consecutive turnovers in a football game)

"I'm sure at some point in my life I have, not in recent memory, but it was just good. You know sometimes they come in bunches – we preach it like crazy. A lot of those were tough. Tre Flowers' was not easy; Germaine Pratt's was not easy. When the ball is on the ground, sometimes it doesn't bounce your way and the other team recovers it – in this case our guys found a way to come up with it. We just needed that type of performance today and our guys delivered it."

(On S Dax Hill's performance today in the slot)

"We'll watch it, but Dax has had the right stuff. He just continues to get better every week. He's had to play a lot of different roles for us, none of them have been too big for him – that's the value that he has right now is he can do a lot of different jobs. He can play safety, he can play in the slot, he can play outside, he's done a nice job as a gunner on the punt team, he's been on kickoffs. He's starting to make more and more plays the more his number is called and that is good to see at this point of the year."

(On if he saw the flag on the Joe Burrow loss of 23-yards in the second half)

"I didn't see it. It was in my headset – someone saw it before. He may have seen it also – we didn't sit there and talk about the play, but sometimes he's got a better eye for that stuff. It's in his vision, it happens and then he tries to extend it and get a bigger play out of the situation."

(On what gave them the confidence after the tough first half)

"We were really only down two possessions, you know, 17-3. Sometimes these games where you're kind of out of rhythm in the first half – you get plenty of opportunities in the second half and so it was just going to take one stop by our defense and one score by our offense and we were going to feel right back in it. Again, that's just our team having experience in moments like that, that there's plenty of time in the second half and you just man up and play good football and that's what we did."

(On WR Tyler Boyd's toughness after battling a finger injury all week)

"Yeah, incredibly tough – that's just 'TB' for you. That's a leader who really stepped up just with his presence being out there and letting other guys see that. He was just in surgery this time last week, [he] goes out there and again, he just creates an issue for the other team whether he's getting the ball or not because he's just a big weapon out there that they have to focus on. When the ball came his way, he made the play every single time I can think of it. There's a big touchdown play down there – I think they were double-double on Ja'Marr [Chase] and Tee [Higgins], and so the one-on-one was with 'TB' and so Joe [Burrow] found him and then he made a great play. 'TB' always rises to the challenge and that was a really physically and mentally tough game that he played today."

(On the tipped pass from QB Joe Burrow that was intercepted)

"That was a second-level tipped pass. I mean that was a safety basically at linebacker level – that wasn't at the line of scrimmage. That stuff is going to happen, it was just off a run play and they got a big, long safety that got his hand up and made a good play."