Zac Taylor explains Bengals' puzzling goal-line play calls vs. Ravens: 'Obviously didn't work'

Zac Taylor explains Bengals' puzzling goal-line play calls vs. Ravens: 'Obviously didn't work'

The Bengals dug deep into their bag of tricks on a crucial goal-line possession in the third quarter against the Ravens on Sunday night. Maybe they should have stuck with something on the first page of the play sheet.

Cincinnati had marched all the way down to the Baltimore 2 in the “Sunday Night Football” clash. After an incompletion to tight end Hayden Hurst, the Bengals drew up a “Philly Special” trick play that resulted in a sack of receiver Tyler Boyd. After getting back to the 2 on third down, the Bengals tried a shovel pass on fourth down that went nowhere.

The decision to go for it and the two bizarre play calls proved costly as Cincinnati wound up losing 19-17 on a Justin Tucker walk-off field goal as time expired. It was the Bengals’ third walk-off field-goal loss of the season.

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After the game, coach Zac Taylor said the team felt good about the plays going into the series against a “tough” Ravens defensive front.

“Obviously didn’t work,” Taylor said. “We took a sack on a specialty play, and then just didn’t quite get how we wanted to on the shovel there on the fourth-down play, but felt comfortable with our package going in and just, honestly when it doesn’t work, you wish you would have done something different.”

The Bengals wound up taking 8:04 off the clock on the 15-play, 73-yard drive.

The goal-line portion of that drive started with a pass to Hurst on an out route on first-and-goal. The next play, Joe Burrow flipped the ball to Ja’Marr Chase coming across the backfield. Chase then flipped it to Boyd. In Week 4 against the Dolphins, Boyd completed a 23-yard pass to Chase. He is 3 for 5 for 85 yards in his career.

This play, however, did not work so well. Burrow was covered as he raced to the right side of the end zone and Boyd was sacked by Marcus Peters.

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The Bengals regained the lost yardage as Burrow hit Chase for a 12-yard completion that put them back at the 2. Then, Cincinnati tried more trickery, with Burrow retreating before trying to flip a shovel pass to Stanley Morgan. The pass fell incomplete, and the Ravens took possession.

Cincinnati trailed 13-10 at that point. Taylor said that he probably would have sent the field-goal unit out from anywhere behind the 2, but he liked the play call on fourth down.

“We felt comfortable with what we had called there,” Taylor said. “Obviously it didn’t work out, and I’m not going to say in hindsight you do it differently. Obviously, we see that that play didn’t work, so you run a different play, but the way that we managed the situation, I thought we’d go up 17-13 right there and our defense is playing really good keeping them out of the end zone aside from the one that they had, and we find a way to go win.”

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The Ravens proceeded to march down the field and kick a field goal to go up 16-10. But the Bengals had another chance. They drove 75 yards in 13 plays and again were faced with another goal-to-go situation. Running back Joe Mixon drove ahead for 4 yards and nearly scored but was stopped short. On the first play out of the two-minute warning, Burrow sneaked it across for a touchdown that put the Bengals up 17-16.

The Bengals came into the game tied for 30th in the league in success rate on fourth-and-2 or shorter, converting just once in four tries, according to Stathead.

As the Bengals’ last scoring drive showed, sometimes it’s best to just keep things simple.