Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor and running back Joe Mixon have cleared the air after Mixon's comments about wishing he had pushed harder to get on the field for the team's final drive in Super Bowl 56 against the Los Angeles Rams.
Taylor told reporters after Saturday's practice that he had no issues with how Mixon expressed himself.
"You absolutely should feel passionate about that situation," Taylor said. "He's handled it outstanding. That's much appreciated. He knows that. It's one of the reasons you want to get back to those moments, you know?"
In an interview with The Athletic's Paul Dehner Jr., Mixon said he "really should have took initiative" to get himself into the game during the two-minute drive:
"It sucks. Obviously, I know I would have been able to help and do whatever to get that 1 yard, but it's over with, it's last year, and we are in 2022. We are trying to do whatever we can do to repeat and get right back in that same situation. And when we are in that situation, you damn sure know I'll be in."
After the Rams took a 23-20 lead on Cooper Kupp's one-yard touchdown catch with 1:25 left in regulation, the Bengals offense came back on the field with Samaje Perine at running back.
Perine got a handoff on 3rd-and-1 from the Rams' 49-yard line, but he was stopped for no gain by Aaron Donald and Greg Gaines.
On the fourth-down play, Joe Burrow nearly made a miraculous throw to Perine as he was being dragged to the ground by Donald that would have extended the drive. The Rams held on to win the game and their first championship since 1999.
Mixon was heavily featured on Cincinnati's previous drive before Kupp's touchdown. He touched the ball five times (four rushes, one reception) on the seven-play drive that resulted in a punt.
During the regular season, Mixon was the only Bengals player with at least 90 touches. His 292 rushing attempts were third-most in the NFL, behind only Jonathan Taylor (332) and Najee Harris (307).
Perine had just 55 rushing attempts in the regular season. His two carries in the Super Bowl gained zero yards.
Despite Perine's limited usage overall, Taylor did have a track record of turning to his backup running back in close late-game situations.
Citing ESPN Stats & Information, ESPN's Ben Baby noted Perine had 21 offensive snaps in games when the Bengals were tied or trailing by eight points or less all season. Mixon had 13 offensive snaps in those situations.
Perhaps having Mixon on the field would have impacted the end of the game, but Donald was such a force for the Rams on the final drive that the Bengals' leaky offensive line would have had to make an adjustment at some point even if they converted that final fourth down.
Mixon finished with 20 touches (15 carries, five receptions) and played 72 percent of the offensive snaps against the Rams, tied with the AFC Divisional Round for his fewest in Cincinnati's four playoff games.