A common refrain from Cincinnati Bengals players this week, including stars like Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, has been that this year’s Super Bowl is “just another game.”
“Obviously it’s not, there are only two teams left and it is for a ring, but I think the best way to go about it is to try to treat it like another game,” Burrow said after Friday’s practice, the last of the season .
Their opponent, the Los Angeles Rams, played in a Super Bowl just three years ago, a 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots. The Bengals, meanwhile, had not won a playoff game since the 1990 wild-card round. This year’s Cincinnati team is also the youngest Super Bowl roster ever, with an average age of 25.8 years, according to an analysis by the website FiveThirtyEight.
But despite their relative youth, Bengals Coach Zac Taylor pointed to the big-stage experience many of his players earned in college or on other NFL teams. Taylor, 38, is in just his third season as a head coach but was the quarterbacks coach for the Rams in Super Bowl LIII.
He said that he and Duke Tobin, the team’s director of player personnel, intentionally built the team around players with postseason experience.
“They certainly are not overwhelmed by these moments – they have proven that over the last two months,” Taylor said. “It’s a lot of guys who have played in championships in college, whether it was at LSU or Clemson or Alabama or Ohio State. And then a lot of these free agents we’ve signed, they have been a part of playoff teams before. So these guys, they know they belong on this stage. ”
Nine Bengals players, including Burrow and Chase, won a national championship in college. Trey Hendrickson and Mike Daniels were among the free-agent signings who had playoff experience with their previous teams, the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers.