Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor paces the sideline in the fourth quarter of the AFC championship NFL game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. The Kansas City Chiefs advanced to the Super Bowl with a 23-20 win over the Bengals.

Cincinnati Bengals At Kansas City Chiefs Afc Championship Jan 29 803

Bengals return home feeling sting of AFC runner-up finish

The day after was not easy for the Cincinnati Bengals.

A 23-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night ended the Bengals’ bid to return to the Super Bowl as Cincinnati closed out the 2022 season with a 14-5 overall record.

But Bengals head coach Zac Taylor knows a bounce or call in the other direction was all that stood between Cincinnati and one more game.

“It can still sting, and you can be really proud of what we did this season,” Taylor said Monday. “We were 4-4 at Halloween and ended the season 14-5 with back-to-back AFC North titles.”

The Chiefs advanced to Super Bowl LVII with a 45-yard field goal from Harrison Butker with 3 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

On the previous play, quarterback Patrick Mahomes scrambled to the sideline and went out of bounds after picking up a first down. With both feet over the sideline and his momentum taking him out of bounds, Mahomes was shoved by Bengals defensive end Joseph Ossai. Officials tossed a 15-yard penalty that put Butker’s attempt in closer, near-automatic range.

But Taylor said that play didn’t decide the game.

Cameras caught linebacker Germaine Pratt as he entered the locker room shouting, “Why would you touch the quarterback?”

“I was emotional, I was in the moment. I was wrong. I wasn’t a great teammate in that moment,” Pratt said Monday. “I’m going back to work.”

Defensive tackle B.J. Hill stood to Ossai’s left in front of his locker Sunday night and helped guide questions and deflect criticism. Taylor said that’s the tight-knit family image he’ll take away from the loss.

“It was awesome to see the guys support each other in a real tough moment,” Taylor said. “That’s the team we’ve always been.”

Pratt is one of the players headed for free agency in March if the Bengals don’t address their contracts. Starting safeties Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates and cornerbacks Eli Apple and Tre Flowers are also unrestricted free agents.

No matter will garner more attention than quarterback Joe Burrow’s contract. He has two years, including the fifth-year option in 2025, remaining on his rookie contract as the No. 1 pick in 2020. But here’s why Burrow’s deal is most important entering the offseason: the first four years of that deal — worth under $37 million total — will very likely be less than Burrow’s future annual salary.

Burrow’s cap hit in 2023 is just $11.5 million. By comparison, Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has a $54.9 million cap hit and Mahomes’ is $46.8 million.

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) takes reps during practice at PayCor Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.

Bengals They Gotta Play Us

Burrowhead: Bengals confident venturing into Chiefs’ venue

Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals are acting like they are the better team entering Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the host Kansas City Chiefs.

Third-seeded Cincinnati sure has plenty of reasons to feel that way after beating the Chiefs in three straight meetings, including a regular-season victory in Week 13 this season and the famous 27-24 overtime win in last season’s AFC title game in Kansas City.

The Chiefs are the top-seeded team in the AFC but the Bengals are scorching hot with 10 consecutive victories.

“In this league, it’s difficult,” Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor said of winning 10 straight games. “It’s a challenge to be able to do that, and our guys have responded each and every week. They haven’t looked down the road, they just focus on what’s right in front of them.”

Burrow has been the difference-maker for the franchise, living up to that “Joe Cool” nickname and leading the Bengals to the brink of a second straight Super Bowl appearance.

After Cincinnati defeated the Buffalo Bills in last weekend’s divisional round, Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton referred to Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium as “Burrowhead,” renaming it after his quarterback.

“It might have stirred a few pots, but it is what it is,” Hilton said.

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce took exception to the comment and called on Kansas City fans to be louder than ever on Sunday.

“They’re throwing a lot of bulletin board material out there,” Kelce said.

Burrow wasn’t about to get involved in the “Burrowhead” chatter — not with the Chiefs playing in their fifth consecutive AFC title game.

“We know the team we’re playing,” Burrow said. “They have been in this spot the past five seasons. They’ve all been in that stadium. To me, they’re still the team to beat. We’re coming for them but we know it is going to be tough, it is going to be hard-fought and we know what kind of players they have on that side.”

Burrow passed for 4,475 yards and a franchise-record 35 touchdowns this season and is one of the finalists for NFL MVP honors.

He also seems immune to pressure and his calm resolve rubs off on other Cincinnati players.

“He trusts his preparation and your preparation leads to confidence,” Taylor said. “That’s what you see from Joe and all our players. They know they have prepared themselves to reach their potential as a player so when they walk on the field on Sunday, they are relaxed.”

In Burrow’s mind, last season’s upset of Kansas City was no fluke. He sees it as the beginning of the Bengals being contenders for the Super Bowl on a yearly basis.

“I think last season did help a lot of guys in their understanding how to take care of their bodies through these long deep playoff runs,” Burrow said. “That’s part of the experience that helps you win these kinds of games, not just on the field stuff and going into hostile environments but being through these long seasons and understanding where you might have been better if you had done something different off the field last year. I think guys have taken strides and taken that to heart.”

Taylor said the experience of playing in Arrowhead a season ago is a key element for Sunday’s contest. He calls Kansas City a “fun, fun atmosphere to play in,” but sees nothing easy about the venue.

“Arrowhead is one of the toughest environments to play in,” Taylor said.

Notice the coach didn’t call it “Burrowhead.” That’s Hilton’s territory.

“We know what’s at stake,” Hilton said. “We know what’s in front of us. We know we’re going to play a great team on Sunday. But we’re ready.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott takes a knee is as Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) is tended to on the field following a collision in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports

Bills’ Sean McDermott draws leadership praise from Bengals

Rather than respond to instruction to get his team ready to resume play Monday night, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor walked to the visiting sideline to console Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott.

“When I got over there, the first thing he said was, ‘I need to be at the hospital with Damar, and I shouldn’t be coaching this game,’” McDermott told Taylor, according to the Bengals’ coach.

Taylor spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field in the first quarter of Monday’s game.

Emotions were heavy throughout the stadium, with silence on both sidelines.

Hamlin, resuscitated on the field, received chest compressions and a defibrillator was required to restore his heartbeat. He collapsed with 5:58 left in the first quarter following an open-field tackle of Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins.

Taylor said he hopes credit is given to the medical response, including team trainers and doctors on both sides and other personnel.

“They were on it. They were composed. It was a complicated situation everyone was trying to process,” Taylor said. “Seeing the composure … they were prepared.”

An ambulance drove onto the field to transport Hamlin two miles to University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

TV broadcaster Joe Buck, on the call for the simulcast with ESPN and ABC, said on the air that he was told the NFL planned to resume the game in a matter of minutes. While the NFL refuted the league delivered any message about resuming play, ESPN said it stood by the reporting from its crew.

Taylor said the game officials recognized the gravity of the situation, and the need to separate the teams, in real-time.

“The officials kind of led the way there,” Taylor said. “I looked at Sean and his players and all they were doing is looking at their teammate, their brother, hoping for the best. That’s the only thing going through their minds.”

Taylor recalled the facial expression of Bills safety Jordan Poyer and quarterback Josh Allen processing “how awful the situation was.”

“Instead of playing telephone on separate sidelines, the decision was made just to go over there (to the Bills’ sideline),” Taylor said. “Unprecedented is the word that gets thrown out a lot about this situation because that’s what it is. In that moment, (McDemott) showed who he is. Just focus on Damar, being there with him, being there with his family.”

Cincinnati is scheduled to host a game on the same field Sunday, playing AFC North division rival Baltimore, and the Bengals remain unclear about any plans to resume the game postponed Monday.

“Vinny Rey, our team chaplain, has helped with his messaging. One of the things I’ve taken from that is move forward as a team. We do have a game Sunday,” Taylor said. “At the same time, you don’t have to move past the situation that’s happening now, and supporting Damar Hamlin’s recovery.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 6, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Phillip Lindsay (30) before the game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Colts elevate RBs Phillip Lindsay, Jordan Wilkins

With Jonathan Taylor sidelined for Sunday’s game at New England, the Indianapolis Colts elevated running backs Phillip Lindsay and Jordan Wilkins from the practice squad on Saturday.

Lindsay and Wilkins join presumed starter Deon Jackson and newly acquired Zack Moss on the active roster in a new-look backfield for the Colts (3-4-1) against the Patriots (4-4).

Taylor, the 2021 NFL rushing champion, was ruled out Friday with a nagging ankle injury that kept him out of two games earlier this season. He leads the team with 462 yards and a touchdown on 107 carries.

Jackson rushed 25 times for 104 yards and a touchdown in the two games in which Taylor didn’t play. He has five carries for minus-4 yards in the other three games in which he has appeared.

Moss was acquired from Buffalo on Tuesday in a trade that sent fellow running back Nyheim Hines to the Bills. He ran 17 times for 91 yards and caught seven passes for 27 yards in five games this season with Buffalo.

Lindsay has played in two games for the Colts in 2022, rushing for 47 yards and adding six receptions for 19 yards.

Wilkins was signed to the practice squad Wednesday. He played in 49 games (four starts) with Indianapolis from 2018-21, gaining 1,184 yards from scrimmage with four touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Marcus Brady was hired as offensive coordinator in 2021. (File Photo Indianapolis Colts Rookie Minicamp On Friday May 11 2018

Colts fire offensive coordinator Marcus Brady

Offensive coordinator Marcus Brady was fired by the Indianapolis Colts on Tuesday in the aftermath of a quarterback change and second consecutive loss.

Brady, in his fifth season as an assistant with the Colts, was named offensive coordinator in 2021.

Indianapolis has 26 total points the past two games, resulting in losses to the Tennessee Titans (19-10) and Washington Commanders (17-16).

“This was an incredibly hard decision, but one I felt needed to be made in the best interest of the team,” head coach Frank Reich said in a statement. “I appreciate Marcus’s commitment to the organization, and he made a significant contribution to our offensive success over the last five seasons. I wish him the best moving forward.”

The Colts (3-4-1) are on the road the next two games — at New England and Las Vegas — before hosting the Philadelphia Eagles (7-0), but there could be much to address for Reich.

Colts owner Jim Irsay met with Reich and general manager Chris Ballard after the team flight home from Nashville two weeks ago looking for stability in the offense.

But the one constant for the Colts in recent seasons has been change at quarterback.

The revolving door shuffled Matt Ryan to the bench the day after Reich’s meeting with Irsay. Ryan, acquired via trade from the Atlanta Falcons, replaced Carson Wentz (dealt to Washington), who was a one-year stopgap upon the retirement of Philip Rivers. Rivers lasted one season (2020) and pushed 2019 starter Jacoby Brissett to the bench.

Andrew Luck had 39 touchdowns and 10 wins in 2018 before his unexpected retirement the following summer.

With Ryan benched, Indianapolis turned to Sam Ehlinger at quarterback in Week 8. He completed 17 of 23 passes for 201 yards but the Colts dropped to 30th in the NFL in points (16.1 per game) and lost more ground in the AFC South division to the Titans (5-2).

A running game expected to be one of the NFL’s best spun its tires and now rates 29th in the NFL at 87.8 yards per game and 3.71 yards per carry. Touted MVP candidate Jonathan Taylor has fumbled twice and scored only one rushing touchdown, which came in the regular-season opener at Houston, in six games.

Brady, 43, had been a part of the QB churn since was hired by the Colts in 2018 as assistant quarterbacks coach. He was the team’s quarterbacks coach from 2019-20 before being promoted to offensive coordinator.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard (31) works to bring down Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) during the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jenna Watson/IndyStar-USA TODAY NETWORK

Colts RBs Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines out vs. Jaguars

Indianapolis Colts running backs Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines have been downgraded from questionable to out for Sunday’s game against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars.

Deon Jackson is in line to handle the bulk of the rushing duties for the Colts (2-2-1) on Sunday against the Jaguars (2-3). Jackson, 23, rushed 13 times for 62 yards in Indianapolis’ 12-9 overtime win over the Denver Broncos on Oct. 6.

Also on Saturday, the Colts elevated running backs Phillip Lindsay and D’Vonte Price to the active roster from the practice squad. They also signed wide receiver Keke Coutee to the 53-man roster from the practice squad and waived tackle Luke Tenuta.

Taylor did not play in the Week 5 victory against the Broncos due to an ankle injury that also kept him out of practice on Wednesday. He was limited in both Thursday’s and Friday’s sessions.

The 2021 NFL rushing champion sustained the injury in the fourth quarter of the Colts’ Week 4 loss against the Tennessee Titans.

Taylor, 23, has rushed for 328 yards and a touchdown and has nine catches for 44 yards in four games this season. He was held to 54 yards in the first meeting with the Jaguars, a 24-0 loss in Jacksonville in Week 2.

Hines was limited in practice on Wednesday before putting forth full participation in Thursday’s and Friday’s sessions. He is working his way back from a concussion he sustained on the third offensive play of the game versus the Broncos.

On Friday, the Colts ruled out linebacker Shaquille Leonard (concussion, nose, back) and defensive end Kwity Paye (ankle) for Sunday’s rematch with the Jaguars.

Lindsay, 28, has 11 carries for 40 yards and three catches for 14 yards in one game this season.

Price, 23, has yet to play in an NFL game after going undrafted out of Florida International.

Coutee, 25, had one catch for 5 yards in two games this season.

Tenuta, 23, was claimed by the Colts on Aug. 31, one day after he was released by the Buffalo Bills. He has yet to play in an NFL game.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) looks to pass against the Chicago Bears during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Giants QB Daniel Jones (ankle) on track to play vs. Packers in London

The New York Giants believe quarterback Daniel Jones is on track to play in Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers in London.

Jones sprained his ankle during last Sunday’s 20-12 win over the Chicago Bears. He had to come back into the game after backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor suffered a concussion.

Jones was a limited participant in practice for the second straight day. Reports said he looked “comfortable” while running during the open-media portion of Thursday’s practice.

“He was running around and doing everything that we are asking him to do from a practice standpoint,” offensive coordinator Mike Kafka told reporters.

Coach Brian Daboll said Jones was “no worse” Thursday after the Giants increased his number of reps.

Taylor is not expected to clear concussion protocol in time for Sunday’s game. If Jones can’t play, it would leave practice squad quarterback Davis Webb to make his first career start.

Wide receiver Kadarius Toney (hamstring) went from a limited practice participant on Wednesday to a non-participant Thursday. Receiver Richie James (ankle) and safety Julian Love (concussion, non-contact) were upgraded to limited participants Thursday after missing Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) runs off the field after the Indianapolis Colts are defeated by the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Colts rule out RB Jonathan Taylor (ankle) vs. Broncos

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor will miss Thursday night’s game at Denver with an ankle injury.

The Colts (1-2-1) also ruled out linebacker Shaquille Leonard, safety Julian Blackmon and defensive end Tyquan Lewis for the Week 5 game against the Broncos (2-2).

On Tuesday, Colts head coach Frank Reich and Taylor both said they were hopeful that the injury wasn’t severe enough to keep him out. “But if you can’t go, you can’t go,” Taylor said.

Taylor, the 2021 NFL rushing champion, sustained the injury in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 24-17 loss against the Tennessee Titans.

Taylor, 23, has rushed for 328 yards and a touchdown and has nine catches for 44 yards in four games this season.

Nyheim Hines is expected to take over in the backfield against Denver, with Deon Jackson also in the mix. Hines has gained only 11 yards on eight carries in four games this season.

Leonard broke his nose and sustained a concussion in his season debut against the Titans. He was also listed with a back injury on Wednesday’s report. Blackmon has an ankle injury and Lewis is also dealing with a concussion.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) runs off the field after the Indianapolis Colts are defeated by the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Colts RB Jonathan Taylor’s missed practice ends streak

When Jonathan Taylor missed practice Wednesday with a toe injury, it ended an incredible “iron man” streak for the Indianapolis Colts running back.

Taylor had never missed a practice in his football career — not at New Jersey’s Salem High School, not in three seasons at Wisconsin and not since joining the NFL in 2020, according to ESPN.

He was held out of Wednesday for precautionary reasons but is expected to be ready for the Colts’ Week 4 game on Sunday against the visiting Tennessee Titans.

Taylor, 23, experienced some soreness after rushing for 71 yards on 21 carries in last week’s win over Kansas City. He ranks fourth in the NFL with 286 yards through three weeks. He also has eight catches for 43 yards.

Taylor led the NFL in rushing last season with a franchise-record 1,811 yards.

–Field Level Media

New York Jets defensive end Micheal Clemons (72) sacks New York Giants quarterback Tyrod Taylor (2) in the first half of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, August 28, 2022. Taylor was slow to get up and left the field soon after.

Nfl Giants Vs Jets Preseason Game Giants At Jets

Giants QB Tyrod Taylor leaves game vs. Jets with back injury

New York Giants quarterback Tyrod Taylor sustained a back injury and left the team’s preseason finale against the New York Jets.

The Giants later ruled Taylor out for the remainder of the game.

Taylor was hit as he threw a complete pass to tight end Daniel Bellinger during the first quarter. After struggling to get up, he eventually jogged off under his own power, but he rode a cart to the locker room after being evaluated under the medical tent.

Taylor is the second-string quarterback on New York’s depth chart behind Daniel Jones. He started the preseason finale and completed 2 of 4 passes for 29 yards with one interception before exiting.

The journeyman joined the Giants, his sixth NFL team, on a two-year, $11 million deal this offseason. A Pro Bowler for the Buffalo Bills in 2015, Taylor has thrown for 10,736 yards, 59 touchdowns and 25 picks in 78 career games (53 starts) since 2011.

–Field Level Media