Zac Taylor’s gutsy call pays off in Bengals’ win over Chiefs
The Cincinnati Bengals gambled and won, albeit barely, at the end of Sunday’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Bengals needed a win to clinch the AFC North, and looked like they were set up perfectly to do so with two minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Cincinnati had first and goal at the 1-yard line, then forced the Chiefs to use their final two timeouts on back-to-back quarterback sneaks by Joe Burrow. Burrow did not score on either try, and Joe Mixon also wound up short of the end zone on third down. That left the Bengals with 4th and goal at the 1 and 58 seconds left.
Instead of kicking the go-ahead field goal and giving Patrick Mahomes the chance to lead the Chiefs downfield, Bengals coach Zac Taylor decided to go for it. The immensely risky decision meant that if the Bengals failed to convert, they would pretty much be guaranteeing overtime, as the Chiefs would have gotten the ball near their own goal line.
Taylor’s decision worked, but only because the Chiefs bailed him out. Mixon caught the fourth down pass but wound up short of the end zone, though the play was nullified by offsetting holding calls. Taylor doubled down and went for it again, and while Burrow’s pass was incomplete, an illegal use of hands penalty on Kansas City gave the Bengals a new set of downs. That allowed the Bengals to run the clock all the way down and kick the game-winning field goal.
Notably, Burrow was seen grabbing his knee and limping off after the second fourth down play, but was moving around fairly well after the game. That was enough to make one question whether Taylor’s call had been a bit too risky.
Last month, Taylor was sharply critical of himself for being too conservative in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Clearly, that still haunts him, because this is as aggressive as it gets. It was hugely risky, and he was probably lucky to get away with it. It worked out, though, as Mahomes and the Chiefs never got the ball back in Cincinnati’s huge win.
Photo: Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor paces the sideline in the first quarter during a Week 17 NFL game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.
Kansas City Chiefs At Cincinnati Bengals Jan 2