Zac Taylor answers why Samaje Perine was in game for key Super Bowl play
The Cincinnati Bengals’ playcalling and personnel decisions on their final two offensive plays of the Super Bowl left a lot to be desired.
The Bengals had a 3rd-and-1 at the Rams 49 trailing 23-20 in the final minute of the Super Bowl. Cincinnati had two timeouts and decided to run up the middle with Samaje Perine, their second-string running back, who rushed for no gain. They burned a timeout after the play. Then they passed on fourth down despite the Rams’ defense being all over Joe Burrow in the second half of the game. Burrow ended up throwing a desperation pass incomplete while being pressured by Aaron Donald.
Many wondered why the Bengals had Perine on the field for the 3rd-and-1 run rather than Joe Mixon, who had rushed for 72 yards in the game and averaged 4.8 yards per carry.
Bengals head coach Zac Taylor answered that question on Wednesday. He said he called the play late and turned down his running backs coach, who asked whether the head coach wanted to make a personnel change at running back.
Why Samaje Perine over Joe Mixon on third-and-1 at the Rams' 49? Zac Taylor explains: #Bengals pic.twitter.com/5lLwKCZM2K
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) February 16, 2022
Taylor noted that Perine is the team’s better blocking back, which is why they had him in the game — for pass protection. But that hurt them when they needed the better runner on the third down play.
The inability to convert the last yard is what killed Cincinnati at the end. They should have gotten the first down and then been close to field goal range, with a chance to send the game to overtime.
Instead, the Rams stopped them on consecutive plays to seal the Super Bowl win.
Taylor was transparent with the media regarding the mistake, but there is no doubt that he blew it with the bad calls.
Photo: Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor before playing against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports