The Cincinnati Bengals are heading back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1988 after overcoming an 18-point deficit to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.
The Bengals went 10-7 during the regular season en route to winning the AFC North title and entered the playoffs as the No. 4 seed. Their surprising run began with a thrilling win over the Las Vegas Raiders in the Wild Card Round and was followed by an improbable road victory against the AFC’s No. 1 seed Tennessee Titans in the Divisional Round.
The Bengals will now meet the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. The teams share many connections, including Andrew Whitworth, who is looking forward to facing his former team in the biggest game of the year.
Another link is Zac Taylor, who served as the Rams’ assistant wide receivers coach and quarterbacks coach under Sean McVay before taking the Bengals’ head coach job in 2019. McVay praised his former assistant and believes he has been key to Cincinnati’s success, via Kevin Patra of NFL.com:
“Really, congratulations to them for winning the AFC,” the coach said. “You look at the start of that game, I think they’re a great, resilient team. It didn’t look good for them and they’ve just continued to show why they’re a mentally tough outfit. I think that’s reflected by their head coach. I know what a great coach he is. They’ve done a great job this year. We’ve crossed over with him a little bit, but I’m looking forward to diving into the tape, figuring out how to put together a good game plan to try to see if we can finish this thing off.”
As McVay pointed out, Taylor has done a remarkable job turning around the Bengals. After going a combined 6-25-1 in his first two seasons, the 38-year-old head coach now has his team one win away from Super Bowl glory.
Taylor credited his time with McVay and the Rams for helping him get to where he is today, calling it “the best two years” of his life.