Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor steps up and speaks out for Bengals LB Joseph Ossai

Bengals HC Zac Taylor goes to bat for Joseph Ossai following costly late penalty in AFC title game
from Mike Santa Barbara with

A costly late hit on Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes ended the Cincinnati Bengals’ chance at a repeat trip to the Super Bowl on Sunday night.

An unnecessary roughness penalty on Bengals’ Joseph Ossai set the Chiefs up for the game-winning field goal late, sealing Cincinnati’s fate in a 23-20 loss. However, while Ossai might be the scapegoat for the loss, head coach Zac Taylor rejected the idea.

After the loss, Taylor said the game “Didn’t come down to that one play,” via The Athletic’s Jay Morrison.

The penalty was tough to swallow for Ossai, who was physically upset on the sidelines following the play. Despite the unfortunate turn late in the game, Ossai was impactful for the Bengals on Sunday night, finishing with five tackles (one for loss), two quarterback hits and a pass defense.

Ossai told Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer that knowing his teammates had his back gave him “peace.”

With 14 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the Chiefs and Bengals tied 20-20, Mahomes scrambled for a first down on third and four. However, a late hit by Ossai drew a flag, pushing Kansas City further into field goal range. Seconds later, Harrison Butker nailed a 45-yard field goal with three ticks left on the game clock.

Still hurting from the loss, Taylor said it was “time to get back to work” and use the offseason and Sunday’s loss to improve. However, the experience on Sunday, win or lose, wasn’t lost on Taylor or the Bengals.

“Last year just happened so fast for us. This year, it was an expectation,” Taylor told reporters. “But, you’re able to appreciate every step of the way. There’s four teams left — 28 at home — we don’t take that for granted.”