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Everything Zac Taylor Had To Say After Beating the Ravens

Head Coach Zac Taylor (left) stands with DE Trey Hendrickson during the second quarter of Week 18 against the Baltimore Ravens at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio on Sunday, January 8 2023.
Head Coach Zac Taylor (left) stands with DE Trey Hendrickson during the second quarter of Week 18 against the Baltimore Ravens at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio on Sunday, January 8 2023.


Head coach

Zac, that seemed like kind of a grind game today after the first couple of series ...

       "(That's) AFC North football. Show me a pretty game that anybody's won in this division yet, and that'll be the first one I've seen. (I'm) so proud of the way these guys just found a way to get it done by two scores. I thought our defense was excellent taking the ball away and finishing off some drives. The offense tacked on the points when we need to. Certainly, there are some things that we can clean up that we can be better off particularly in offense, but (I'm) just proud of the way that these guys found a way to win in January. That's all that matters. (We) finished the second half of season 8-0 the right way, and so these guys got a lot of confidence right now heading into the playoffs."

Was that a playoff-winning celebration after the game? Is today's celebration any different?

       "Today was just about finishing off the regular season and being back-to-back divisional champs for the first time in franchise history. So again, that's something to celebrate. These guys have worked their tails off to be in this position; anything less, and we wouldn't be in this position right now, (if) we'd have anything less than the last eight games. (I'm) so just really proud of the way these guys have focused every single week that's so hard in this league. There isn't another team that's won the last eight games in a row — maybe San Francisco. (I'm) just really proud of the way these guys have been able to focus and find different ways to win."

How big was Drue Chrisman's punt at the end of the first half in setting up that next touchdown?

       "However you want to phrase it — that was big, down and inside the five right there (with our) defense (and) Trey (Hendrickson) finishing off (with) Joseph (Ossai) on the fumble. That was big, because we were positioned to get the ball on the 50 (-yard line) and then we could tack points any way we could offensively, but to get some from our defense was a huge boost going into halftime."

We heard your comments about the NFL and going into playoffs, and Joe Mixon had a celebration with the coin toss after he scored today. Was there any extra fire going into this game based on that?

       "I think these guys channeled everything the right way, and we knew again how tough it is to win this division. Whether we're at home or on the road, I'm just proud of the way these guys focused, found a way to get it done and secure the No. 3 seed, and now have get a chance to play these guys again (and) host a playoff game. That's a huge deal to be able to do that. And so, again, we have to have great focus going into this next game."

What was the cause of the struggles on offense in the second half?

       "It's just not enough consistency. We had some three-and-outs and some third-and-ones, fourth-and-ones. (It was a) tough situation there and just not enough. (We) didn't put our guys in a good enough position, (and we) didn't execute well enough in some instances as well. (It was) not our sharpest game that we've had. There's a lot to learn from this week and be better next week."

Did you keep anything back knowing that you could play them next week?

       "There certainly is. You don't want to put it all out there. You want to have control the game early. I thought it'd be a decent control. Certainly anything can happen of course in the game, but there's that balance there."

How challenging was it to stay dialed in and focused this week with everything that's happened?

       "Yeah, it's a challenge. This was a strange week (and a) strange game. Again, our players do everything to handle it the right way. Now, we get a chance to put this one behind us and just focus on playoffs."

What can you say about Alex Cappa's injury?

       "I don't know anything about Alex yet — just that he left the game. I don't know his long-term prognosis yet."

With the good news about Damar Hamlin's recovery coming out this week — he was able to watch the Buffalo Bills game from his hospital bed this morning — what is it like to close out an emotional week like this with this win and watch everything play out as it has and secure a home playoff game?

       "That's just spectacular news considering six days ago, you would have never, never thought that could happen. So, to hear that, just to see how that's evolved over the course of a week, is just incredible.

       "Again, you have to go back to thanking the people who are on the field helping Damar immediately that gave him this chance to be where he's at today. That's awesome to hear, that he's able to watch the game."

You've talked about putting thought and meaning into messages to the team before games. This was a strange week and strange game. How did you kind of approach that this weekend?

       "Yeah, you're right. There's a lot of thought that goes into it. We'll keep that to ourselves what the messaging was, but again, I thought our guys came out ready to play."

Do you have any concern over the way the last couple of games against New England and again today that the team has gotten up early and then had trouble putting away teams in the second half/later in games?


What have you said to the team about putting teams away when you have the chance? What's the key to doing that once the playoffs start?

       "Just being more efficient."

Baltimore had several players inactive today in J.K. Dobbins and Mark Andrews among others that will probably play next week. When you see that they are not starting guys today that you could face next week, how do you read that as a coach?

       "You really try to just put that out (of your mind) because you gotta go play football. We needed this win. There was a lot on the line for us (with) potentially losing the home field game ... There was just too much on the line and we had to block that out and just play whoever they put out there (in front of us)."