There have been plenty of questions about the Bengals' decision to put veteran Samaje Perine in the game ahead of Pro Bowl running back Joe Mixon on their final drive of Super Bowl LVI. Mixon was healthy, but was on the bench for key 3rd and 4th-and-1 plays that ultimately ended the game.
"We were in 2-minute mode and Samaje has done a great job. His role has really been as a protecting back and a lot of the things that come with that," head coach Zac Taylor said on Wednesday. "It’s 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."
The Bengals handed the ball to Perine on 3rd-and-1 and he didn't pick up the first down. Then on fourth down, Aaron Donald beat Quinton Spain and nearly sacked Joe Burrow. The 25-year-old flipped the ball in Perine's direction, but it fell to the ground and the Rams secured the win.
"That’s just one of the decisions you make in the moment and you’ve gotta move forward with it," Taylor said. "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 lost the game 23-20. Not having Mixon in the game has been one of the many hot button topics that have been discusses since Sunday's loss.
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