“It’s good for us to prove to ourselves that we can win in different ways”

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GH: I noticed that after you gave him the match ball in the post-game locker room, it looked like he yelled at you for calling the games.

ZT: I don’t know a lot of backs who don’t want 30 wear in a match. I don’t know a lot of receivers who want less than 10 targets per game. A lot of times you have great players and they want the game to get around them. As long as they still do their job even when they don’t and do what we want them to do, I have no problem if the guys want the ball anymore. It’s part of being a great player.

GH: What I also noticed in questions from the media up to 24 hours after the game was that hardly anyone mentioned Joe Burrow. Maybe for the first time. In my opinion, even though he’s had few passing yards in his career, I thought it was one of the best games he’s played. I hate the term goalie because he was so much more than a guardian in Vegas. But he was a guard, you know what I mean?

ZT: Yeah, he knew the style of play we were going to play. He released the ball quickly when he needed it. He hit third base and touchdown, which is not an easy play, in an instant we really needed a big play from our quarterback and he did it. They’ve had us a few times on some play calls with blankets and it’s difficult. I just thought he handled the game very well for us.

GH: Am I nuts? I thought it was one of his best games.

ZT: I thought he was playing well. There’s not much that I’d like to go back and say, “Let’s do this a little different next time.” He played regularly. Which he always does.

GH: He must have thrown. And he did it for the touchdown to make it a two-goal game.

ZT: That’s right, but there were also other throws on third down, where timing was critical for some of the things we did. Like the throw to CJ (Uzomah) in third and runs for a first down. It’s not really part of the progression. He’s just trying, in a way, to occupy someone. Someone else gets the ball back on that play, but Joe just realizes that the corner is playing soft on the third and the three or something, and then he hits it there. This is not where I expected the ball to go. These little things are underestimated, but as coaches they go a long way because we need this game in the game and he made it work.

GH: The other big throw in the game for me was that playing action on the first snap of the second half after he just got trucked in to complete the half and hangs in the pocket and throw a seed at Ja’Marr Chase through the narrowest of the windows in the middle.

ZT: There is a lot of confidence and discipline in this shot because it turns its back on defense. He’s just the one who understands the cover. He knows if he’s even a quarter of a second behind, then (linebacker Cory) Littleton is going to get his hands on it. It’s just good discipline on the part of the quarterback and the receiver to be where he needs to be.


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