Bengals HC Zac Taylor defends Joseph Ossai after game-losing penalty

Bengals, Joseph Ossai
Bengals, Joseph Ossai / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Joseph Ossai will never live down his dreadful mistake at the end of the AFC Championship Game on Sunday night, but his head coach did his best to shield him from criticism after the game.

Zac Taylor spoke to reporters after Sunday night's game and was almost immediately asked about Ossai's 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty that set the Chiefs up for a game-winning Harrison Butker field goal.

But rather than place blame upon his young defensive end, Taylor defended Ossai, insisting that the game wasn't determined by one play. It was the only response Taylor could have had, although good luck convincing a portion of Bengals fans that this loss isn't on Ossai.

"It’s tough. One play. Didn’t come down to that."

Zac Taylor

Zac Taylor insists Joseph Ossai isn't to blame for the Bengals' AFC Championship Game

Facing a 3rd-and-4 on the Bengals' 47-yard line with 17 seconds remaining, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes scrambled to his right for a five-yard gain as he was shoved out of bounds.

Unfortunately, it was Ossai who made contact with Mahomes back after the All-Pro QB stepped out of bounds. The result was a 15-yard penalty that put the Chiefs in field-goal range. Butker's 45-yard kick sealed the game and ended the Bengals' season.

It's easy to point to Ossai's mistake and blame him for the loss, but no game ever comes down to one play. That's the point Taylor is making here.

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The Bengals' season has ended in heartbreak for the second consecutive season, although given the questionable officiating that marred this game, this one feels different. It stings. It stings a lot.