CINCINNATI — Any consternation over the end of Super Bowl LVI is water under the bridge for Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon and coach Zac Taylor.
Mixon, who wasn’t on the court for the team’s final offensive practice in the 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, including a third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 situation, told reporters Friday he should have pushed harder to get on the ground.
On Saturday, Taylor said he discussed the issue with Mixon and had no qualms about how Mixon was speaking out about the situation.
“You absolutely have to feel passionate about this situation,” Taylor said. “He did remarkably[ly]. It’s very appreciated. He knows it. That’s one of the reasons you want to come back to those times, you know?
With the team executing their two-minute offense and the Bengals needing points to extend or win the Super Bowl, Cincinnati went with backup Samaje Perine. On Cincinnati’s last drive, he was stopped with no gain and was the target of a rushing, random pass attempt on the final fourth-and-one that sealed the Rams’ victory.
On Friday, after refusing to speak to the media throughout OTAs and the first two days of training camp, Mixon suggested he should have basically checked into the game on this final drive.
“It was just caught up in an instant,” Mixon said in an impromptu post-practice press conference on Friday, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I really should have taken some initiative on myself and said to myself, ‘Hey, I’m coming.’ But you know, it was the heat of the moment.”
Mixon told reporters he mostly worked with the team’s two-minute offense during the playoffs. But in the final two minutes of all games in 2022 with the Bengals tied or trailing by eight points or less, Perine had 21 offensive snaps to Mixon’s 13, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Later in the offseason, Taylor admitted he probably would have done it a little differently.
“Whether Joe is there or not, he certainly deserves the opportunity at a key moment in a key game to try and get it for us as a star defender,” Taylor said in February, three days after the loss. . “But again, it’s just one of the decisions you make in the moment and you have to move on.”
And Taylor also had no qualms with Mixon’s recent comments about the situation. During Saturday’s practice inside Paul Brown Stadium, Taylor and Mixon addressed the crowd of 28,283 who came to see the defending champions AFC. Mixon, who just completed his first Pro Bowl season, signed autographs, played catch with fans and garnered big cheers during drills throughout the day.
Taylor said his running back’s actions during Saturday’s demonstration practice were just not for the fans and the cameras in attendance.
“It’s just his interaction with everyone he meets,” Taylor said. “He’s one of the most genuine players I’ve ever seen. He’s definitely appreciated by everyone here in this organization.”