Zac Taylor and the Cincinnati Bengals did not want a coin flip to find out the location of Sunday’s AFC wild card matchup versus the Baltimore Ravens.
Taylor and the Bengals have been dissatisfied within the NFL’s ruling within the aftermath of the canceled Buffalo Payments vs. Bengals Week 17 recreation, however the membership is able to transfer ahead because the No. 3 seed within the AFC playoffs.
“It would not matter now. It is set the best way it is set. We gained the division, and we get a house discipline recreation. So now we’ll simply observe the seeding and go wherever it takes us,” Taylor informed USA TODAY Sports activities . “Nevertheless it begins with this primary recreation towards Baltimore. We obtained to have an ideal plan in place and have the flexibility to maneuver on to the following spherical.”
The Bengals are driving an AFC-best eight-game successful streak getting into the postseason.
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USA TODAY Sports activities interviewed Taylor this week concerning the canceled Week 17 recreation, Damar Hamlin, being back-to-back AFC North champions and this 12 months’s playoffs. Listed here are the highlights, barely edited for readability, from the unique dialog:
Damar Hamlin’s harm captured the eye of the nation. You have been praised for the way you dealt with the unprecedented scenario. Can you’re taking us by way of these moments? What was going by way of your thoughts once you noticed how extreme Hamlin’s harm was and your thought course of whereas the NFL was deciding whether or not or to not resume the sport?
Taylor: It was a horrible second on the sphere. All of us felt horrible for Damar. We might see what the Payments have been going by way of. It was an terrible scenario that you just hope to by no means replicate. I believed the officers did an ideal job speaking with each groups. Clearly, the conclusion got here that we could not proceed on with that recreation and folks wanted to be on the hospital to help him since you did not know what the outlook was going to be. In the end, I believed everyone obtained to the correct determination.
When did you first understand the sport ought to be cancelled?
Taylor: It was exhausting. When everybody was taking a look at Damar Hamlin on the bottom, no one is considering something. They’re simply serious about I hope all the things is alright with Damar. I do not assume it was going by way of anybody’s thoughts are we gonna play or not play. That is not what occurs once you’re sitting proper subsequent to somebody who’s preventing for his or her life. Taking part in shouldn’t be going by way of your thoughts. When the ambulance pulls away, that is once you begin attempting to select up the items and determine what’s about to occur. There is not any precedent that is been set. We simply wanted a pair moments to assemble our groups and give it some thought.
Each second that handed supplied readability. I do not assume anyone was serious about enjoying.
Payments QB Josh Allen mentioned some persons are going to be modified perpetually after witnessing that second on Monday evening. Do you assume your staff might be modified perpetually after witnessing that scary scene?
Taylor: It is a second that you’re going to always remember. We’re grateful that the end result has been actually constructive for Damar. It is exhausting to think about seven days from that taking place, him with the ability to return to Buffalo. I do not assume anybody would’ve been capable of predict that taking place. That is superior to see the progress he is made. I feel this week is one thing we’ll all the time bear in mind. Simply the help that everybody had for Damar and his household from him.
How does it really feel to be back-to-back AFC North Champions?
Taylor: That was one in every of our targets because the starting of the season. Now we have one residence recreation within the playoffs. Our guys did an ideal job in incomes this title. That is two (AFC North titles) for us for the primary time in franchise historical past.
Lots of people mentioned, together with myself, the Bengals might be going from the hunter to the hunted this season. Because the defending AFC champions, you guys completed 12-4 and gained the division. How do you assume your staff carried out all through the common season?
Taylor: To win eight in a row to shut out the common season, this staff is enjoying good soccer on the proper time. We’re successful the turnover battles, it is a very unified staff with nice management. It isn’t sudden. I am proud to be part of this staff. We’re beginning a brand new season now. Everyone seems to be 0-0 and we obtained to have the ability to maintain enterprise one recreation at a time.
Joe Burrow is within the MVP dialogue. How has he improved his recreation in his third season?
Taylor: He took us to the Tremendous Bowl final 12 months, so he had an ideal 12 months final 12 months. He continues to play actually quick at a very excessive stage. It is his third 12 months within the system. He has full possession of the system. I feel he is carried out an ideal job for us, as we anticipated him to do. He continues to print each single week that he passes.
Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and the offense get a variety of nationwide consideration. However your protection has carried out at a excessive stage this season, ending high 10 in factors allowed. Describe the impression your protection has had this 12 months.
Taylor: There’s nice management at each place group. Now we have a ton of expertise on protection. The coaches have carried out an ideal job beginning with (defensive coordinator) Lou Anarumo and his entire workers. They’ve discovered a solution to create a variety of turnovers. That is what they did on the finish of final season, too. That basically helped us in our playoff run. These final couple weeks now we have seen much more of that. Now we have to proceed that in (this 12 months’s) playoffs as effectively.
Because the defending AFC champions and runner-up in final 12 months’s Tremendous Bowl, what is the message to your staff as you embark on one other postseason?
Taylor: You’ll be able to’t look past the primary recreation. Now we have Baltimore. It is a massive recreation. They need a bit of us. We wish a bit of them. You’ll be able to’t look past that. As a result of that is when you possibly can stub your toe. These guys have carried out an ideal job of getting a slim deal with the seven-day week, getting nice work carried out and being able to go play on Sunday.
Comply with USA TODAY Sports activities’ Tyler Dragon on Twitter @TheTylerDragon.
This text initially appeared on USA TODAY: Bengals’ Zac Taylor on unforgettable Damar Hamlin second, playoffs