For teams that lose Super Bowls that they could have won, it sometimes takes a little time to get past whatever happened to prevent a victory. The Bengals have one of those issues, as it relates to the fact that running back Joe Mixon wasn’t on the field for the last two offensive plays of the 23-20 loss to the Rams in February.
As explained by Ben Baby of ESPN.com, Mixon addressed the situation on Friday. Coach Zac Taylor chimed in a day after Mixon ended a silence that lasted through the offseason program.
Via Mixon, and as originally reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer, Mixon conducted an unplanned press conference with reporters after practice on Friday. During the session, he expressed regret for not insisting on entering the game during the last drive.
“It was just a caught-up-in-a-moment thing,” Mixon said. “I really should have taken initiative on myself and just been like, ‘Hey, I’m coming in.’ But you know, it was the heat of the moment.”
The Bengals typically used Samaje Perine in the two-minute offense. On a third-and-one carry, Perine went nowhere. On the next play, fourth and one, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald blasted through the line, keeping Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow from spotting receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who was wide open along the right sideline after Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey tripped and fell. Burrow’s desperation throw, forced by Donald’s ferocity, was intended for Perine.
On Saturday, Taylor said that he has no problem with Mixon’s comments.
“You absolutely should feel passionate about that situation,” Taylor said, via Baby. “He’s handled it outstanding. That’s much appreciated. He knows that. It’s one of the reasons you want to get back to those moments, you know?”
That’s the hard part, as teams that have found themselves on the wrong side of those moments in the past have learned. From Super Bowl XLIX (Seattle running instead of throwing) to Super Bowl LI (the Falcons blowing a 28-3 second-half lead) to Super Bowl LIV (the 49ers blowing a 10-point lead with seven minutes left), that much-coveted shot at redemption is hardly a given. Without a chance to change the outcome, the lost opportunity can linger and fester.
For now, the Bengals need to forget about what they’d do differently if they find themselves in a similar situation during Super Bowl LVII. With a stacked array of quality teams in the AFC, getting back to that moment will be a lot more difficult than turning that moment into a championship.