NFL-Bengals coach says lean years shaped his Super Bowl-bound team – Metro US

NFL-Bengals coach says lean years shaped his Super Bowl-bound team

FILE PHOTO: NFL: AFC Wild Card-Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati
FILE PHOTO: NFL: AFC Wild Card-Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor had a rough start to his tenure with the team but after finding a way to turn things around in a hurry said the lean years helped shape the character of his Super Bowl-bound club.

Hired by Cincinnati in 2019, Taylor went 6-25-1 during his first two seasons as an NFL head coach during which the Bengals finished last in the AFC North but, with the help of quarterback Joe Burrow, has built one of the best young offenses in the NFL.

Taylor, whose club will play the hometown Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl on Sunday, said that while there were hard times that tested him along the way, he never doubted the ability of himself or his team.

“You wake up when you are 0-9 or 0-10 on a Monday morning on your way to work and think ‘is this really happening?’ You never envision it going like this,” Taylor told reporters.

“But that’s what shaped us to be the way that we are. We have tremendous character in this building from top to bottom and so looking back on it I wouldn’t change anything, wouldn’t change anything about the process.”

Coming into the season, the Bengals were a 150-1 longshot to win this year’s NFL’s championship game and their turnaround is so rare that they are only the third team to reach the Super Bowl two years after finishing with the NFL’s worst record.

The Bengals, who went 10-7 this season, arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday and Taylor said they are doing their best to avoid the many distractions as they make final preparations before chasing Cincinnati’s first Super Bowl championship.

“We’ve done our best to treat this like any game we’ve played all year even though I know there’s media attention and all those things that are going to make it feel a little bit different,” said Taylor.

“But I think that’s what made this team special is the ability to have such a narrow focus and great job on focusing and getting on the field and doing what we do best.”

Despite some setbacks along the way the Bengals have showed no quit, something that was evident in their last game when they rallied back from an 18-point deficit on the road to beat the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime and reach the Super Bowl.

The result may have stunned many onlookers but not Taylor.

“We believe in each other. We got a great team and someone is going to make a play to get us back in it when things look dark,” said Taylor.

“There’s just a belief that we’ve kind of seen it all, we’ve won a lot of different ways and these guys always know that we are never out of it and no one should ever count us out of it.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)

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