The Bengals faced a third-and-one at the Los Angeles 49 with 48 seconds to play and in need of a field goal to tie the Rams. They called a running play for Samaje Perine, and Aaron Donald and Greg Gaines stopped Perine for no gain.
Coach Zac Taylor said in his postgame interview that he thought the Bengals could steal a first down with a running play. What he didn’t explain is why it wasn’t starting running back Joe Mixon carrying the ball.
Mixon had 15 carries for 72 yards and Perine, the team’s third-down and two-minute back, gained no yards on two carries.
Taylor explained why it was Perine, not Mixon, in the game when the clock was stopped, which would have allowed for a substitution.
“Yeah, we were in 2-minute mode and Samaje has done a great job,” Taylor said, via Peter Schrager of NFL Media. “His role has really been as a protecting back and a lot of the things that come with that, off of that. It’s just one of those situations where I called the play a little later on the clock, and so, I was the one that said, ‘Leave him in there.’ Justin Hill, our running backs coach, asked if we wanted to make a change. I said, ‘Just leave Samaje in there.’ Obviously, it didn’t work out for us. Whether Joe is in there or not, he’s certainly deserving of the opportunity in a key moment in a key game to try to get it for us as our featured back. But again, that’s just one of the decisions you make in the moment, and you’ve gotta move forward with it. There’s other things I certainly could have done over the course of the game that would have put us in a better position. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get it done.”
The Bengals’ comeback attempt ended on the next play when Joe Burrow, with Donald hanging on him, threw incomplete on fourth down.