Cincinnati Bengals Joe Mixon and Zac Taylor have no consternation over Super Bowl LVI ending

CINCINNATI — Any consternation over how Super Bowl LVI ended is water under the bridge for Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon and coach Zac Taylor.

Mixon, who was off the field for the team’s final offensive drive in the 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, which included a third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 situation, told reporters on Friday that he had have to push harder to get onto the field.

On Saturday, Taylor said he has discussed the matter with Mixon and has no qualms about how Mixon has spoken out about the situation.

“You definitely have to be passionate about that situation,” Taylor said. “He handled it very well[ly]. That is much appreciated. He knows that. It’s one of the reasons you want to go back to those moments, you know?”

With the team making its two-minute attack and the Bengals needing points to extend or win the Super Bowl, Cincinnati chose backup Samaje Perine. On Cincinnati’s final run, he was stopped for no-profit and was the target of a rushed and haphazard pass on the final fourth-and-1 that sealed the Rams’ victory.

On Friday, after refusing to speak to the media during OTAs and during the first two days of training camp, Mixon suggested that he should have essentially checked himself into the game during that final drive.

“It was just a snapshot,” Mixon said during an impromptu post-practice press conference on Friday, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I really should have taken the initiative for myself and just say, ‘Hey, I’m coming.’ But you know, it was the heat of the moment.”

Mixon told reporters he had mainly worked with the team’s two-minute strike during the postseason. But in the final two minutes of all 2022 games with the Bengals tied or eight or fewer points behind, Perine had 21 offensive snaps compared to Mixon’s 13, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Later in the off-season, Taylor acknowledged that he probably would have handled the situation a little differently.

“Whether Joe is there or not, he certainly deserves the chance at a key moment in a key game to try and get it for us as our lead,” Taylor said in February, three days after the loss. “But again, that’s just one of the decisions you’re making right now and you have to go through with it.”

And Taylor also had no qualms with Mixon’s recent comments about the situation. During Saturday’s practice at Paul Brown Stadium, Taylor and Mixon addressed the crowd of 28,283 who came to watch the defending AFC champions. Mixon, who is entering his first Pro Bowl season, signed autographs, played catch with fans and elicited lots of cheers during practice throughout the day.

Taylor said his running back’s actions during Saturday’s showcase practice just weren’t for the fans and cameras in attendance.

“That’s just his interaction with everyone he meets,” Taylor said. “He’s one of the most honest players I’ve ever been to. He’s absolutely appreciated by everyone here in this organization.”

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