After leading the Cincinnati Bengals to their first Super Bowl appearance in 33 years, head coach Zac Taylor has been rewarded with a contract extension.
The Bengals announced Wednesday that the extension will keep Taylor under contract through the 2026 season.
Bengals owner Mike Brown said in a statement: "I think the city of Cincinnati sees him the way the players and I do. He's brought excitement to the town and deserves credit and recognition for that."
Taylor had a rapid ascent to becoming an NFL head coach. He spent two years in the league as an assistant on Sean McVay's staff with the Los Angeles Rams, including being quarterbacks coach when they went to Super Bowl LIII.
The Bengals hired Taylor in 2019 to replace Marvin Lewis, who spent 16 seasons with the team. His initial deal was for three years, but a 6-25-1 record through his first two seasons cast doubt about his long-term outlook with the franchise.
Coming into the 2021 season, Taylor was the betting favorite to be the first head coach fired.
Instead, two years of successful drafts and shrewd moves in free agency paid off for Taylor and the Bengals.
Quarterback Joe Burrow not only had a successful return from the torn ACL and MCL that cut short his rookie campaign, but he also established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. The 25-year-old led the NFL in completion percentage (70.4) and threw for 4,611 yards with 34 touchdowns during the regular season.
After all the debate about whether the Bengals should select Ja'Marr Chase or Penei Sewell with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, Chase immediately reestablished his connection with Burrow from LSU.
Chase led the team with 128 targets, 81 receptions, 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns. Tee Higgins also crossed the 1,000-yard mark.
The Bengals became the first team in NFL history to have a 4,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher age 25 or younger in the same season.
Field Yates @FieldYates
Joe Burrow (25): 4,165 yards<br><br>Joe Mixon (25): 1,159 yards<br><br>Ja'Marr Chase (21): 1,163 yards<br><br>Tee Higgins (22): 1,029 yards<br><br>The Bengals are the first team in NFL history to have a 4,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher and 2 1,000-yard receivers all 25 or younger in the same season. <a href="https://t.co/esaVoV50YV">pic.twitter.com/esaVoV50YV</a>
Another major offseason move saw the Bengals let Carl Lawson leave as a free agent to sign Trey Hendrickson. The 27-year-old became the anchor of the defense with 27 quarterback hits, 14 sacks and 12 tackles for loss to earn his first Pro Bowl selection.
That core helped the Bengals win the AFC North and make the playoffs for the first time since 2015. They defeated the Las Vegas Raiders 26-19 in the Wild Card Round for the franchise's first postseason victory since Jan. 6, 1991.
The Bengals knocked off the Tennessee Titans, the No. 1 seed in the AFC, 19-16 in the divisional round. They followed that up by erasing a 21-3 deficit against the Kansas City Chiefs to win the AFC Championship Game 27-24 in overtime.
Cincinnati's dream season came to a heartbreaking end. The Bengals lost 23-20 to the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI despite leading for most of the second half.
Taylor has helped oversee this Bengals turnaround and led them to their most successful season in more than three decades. Given the young foundation in place, this looks like the start of a long run of success for a franchise that isn't accustomed to being in this position.