Bengals’ Zac Taylor gets major praise for game-winning drive vs. Chiefs

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·2 min read
Bengals’ Zac Taylor gets major praise for game-winning drive vs. Chiefs
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  • Cincinnati Bengals
    Cincinnati Bengals
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  • Kansas City Chiefs
    Kansas City Chiefs
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  • Zac Taylor
    American and Canadian football player

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor hasn’t always won over fans or onlookers in general with his approach to game management.

But he put on a master-class showing over the final six minutes of Sunday’s AFC North-clinching win over the Kansas City Chiefs — which resulted in more classic Joe Burrow-cigar moments in the locker room.

Taylor’s offense got the ball back with about six minutes left in a tie game and marched all the way down to the redzone. With 58 seconds left and facing a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line, Joe Mixon was ruled short on a rushing attempt. Offsetting penalties meant both teams did it again, a play that saw a flag for illegal use of the hands on the Chiefs resulting in a Bengals first down. That let the Bengals kneel the ball, spike it and kick the game-winner.

Next Gen Stats at NFL.com illustrated why Taylor made the correct, aggressive calls: “The NGS Decision Guide agreed with Taylor’s decisions to go for it. On Cincinnati’s first try, the model recommended going for it by 3.5 percent in win probability value. On the second, 3.8 percent.”

Funnily enough, as onlookers probably guessed while watching it unfold in real time, the last flag on the Chiefs decided the game because it meant Patrick Mahomes wouldn’t get the ball back:

“Since the illegal use of hands penalty resulted in an automatic first down for the Bengals, the result of the penalty was even more valuable than a touchdown. The penalty essentially won the game for the Bengals, while a touchdown would have meant Patrick Mahomes and Co. would’ve had roughly 45 seconds and no timeouts to drive down the field for a game-tying touchdown, and then hang on to win in overtime: a 3 percent proposition. A made field goal would have made the prospects of a Mahomes-led comeback more likely — 22 percent odds. A failed attempt, and the Bengals’ chances of winning drop to 41 percent. The NGS conversion probability and win probability models do account for team and quarterback strength, so these numbers are higher than average, given Mahomes is the opponent here.”

Speaking with reporters Monday, Taylor confirmed the overarching objective was to score on those sneaks, besides not extending the ball and risking a turnover, per The Athletic’s Jay Morrison:

Make no mistake — things worked out perfectly for Taylor. He was in a seemingly no-win situation in terms of public reception if what he chose to do failed.

But, that’s not what unfolded, he’s a coach of the year favorite after winning the AFC North and Burrow’s getting called the next Tom Brady. What that makes Taylor right now is hard to say, but he’ll probably settle for the praise, AFC North crown and a shot at a Super Bowl.

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