Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor always has loved trick plays, whether he was running them as a quarterback at Nebraska, designing them as the play-caller, or watching in surprise when one shows up on television.
So what better time than in a nationally televised game against his younger brother, Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator and play-caller Press Taylor, to dial one up?
Employing an “if at first you don’t succeed” mantra, Taylor watched his first trick play result in a seven-yard loss to stall a promising first-quarter drive and then went back to the bag a second time for an even bigger disaster.
Bengals Trick Plays Blow Up in Their Face
With Jake Browning setting an NFL accuracy record for a quarterback in one of the first two starts of his career, Zac Taylor had wide receiver Tyler Boyd attempt a pass from the Cincinnati 25-yard line deep in the third quarter — one play after the Jaguars had tied the game.
Boyd took a backward pass from Browning and tried to throw across the field to running back Joe Mixon, but instead threw the ball directly to Jacksonville’s Josh Allen for an interception. Allen returned it to the Cincinnati 9-yard line, and four plays later, Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence scored on a one-yard dive to put the hosts up 28-21.
“It’s a play we’ve had explosive plays on over the years,” Taylor said, noting a 46-yard pass from Boyd to Mixon against the Jets in 2021, and a Boyd 16-yard pass to Giovani Bernard against the Browns in 2020.
“We’ve executed the play well. We’ve practiced it all season,” Taylor added. “It’s tough when a receiver’s not used to throwing the ball. It took a little longer than we anticipate. That’s just part of making a call like that. You’ve got to live with that. Usually, when call that play in practice, we give a pretty vanilla look. It was a little tougher than anticipated.”
The first trick play was similar. It came a few plays after the Jaguars had scored the first touchdown of the game, and it involved Browning throwing a backward pass to Ja’Marr Chase. But instead of Chase looking for Mixon or another receiver, he attempted to throw it back to Browning.
Just as the second took longer to develop than anticipated, so did the first one due to Chase slipping. But by the time he regained his footing and got the ball to Browning, Jacksonville linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson was there to drop him for a seven-yard loss.
That set up 3rd-and-13, leading to a standard Browning-to-Chase connection for four yards to get on the edge of Evan McPherson’s field-goal range. But his 57-yard attempt hit off the crossbar, leaving the Bengals in a 7-0 hole.
“The trick plays didn’t work so well,” Taylor said. “Sometimes in a game like this, you’ve just got to be aggressive and can’t be afraid of what the results are gonna be. It could be negative results — and it was — but our guys were able to overcome it.
“That could’ve broken our back there,” Taylor added, referring to the second one. “And our guys really just rallied around it and kept going. We just stuck with it and kept playing ball. There was a lot of game left to be played there. Our guys just stuck together like they have all year and made a game of it and found a way to win.”
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