Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor isn’t happy with the NFL’s coin-flip decision.
The NFL approved several adjustments to its playoff rules on Friday in the wake of the Bengals’ canceled game with the Buffalo Bills after Bills safety Damar Hamlin sustained cardiac arrest on the field on Monday night. That game, which had playoff implications, was officially ruled a “no contest.”
Team owners voted to pass several rules to help fix the scenario, which included a potential neutral site game in the AFC championship. Another, which Taylor isn’t happy about, is a potential coin flip to determine who hosts a wild-card game between the Bengals and Baltimore Ravens.
The two teams will square off Sunday to conclude the regular season. If the Ravens win, the league will flip a coin to determine who hosts the playoff game. That is done instead of traditional rules that use winning percentages in the case of canceled games.
“As far as I’m concerned, we just want the rules to be followed,” Taylor said Friday, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “When a game is canceled, you just turn to winning percentage to clarify everything so we don’t have to make up rules. There’s several instances this season when a club is fined or people in our building are fined and we’re being told, ‘Follow the rules. It’s black and white. It’s in the rulebook.’ So now when we point out the rules and you’re told, we’re going to change that, I don’t want to hear about fair and equitable when that’s the case.”
If the Ravens win Sunday, they’ll finish the season with an 11-6 record. The Bengals, under that scenario, would finish 11-5, which is slightly better than the Ravens’ record and would, under the old rules, allow them to host the wild-card game should the two teams meet in the first round.
Now, if that scenario unfolds, it’ll be determined by a coin flip.
Though it’s been an extremely tough and unprecedented week for everyone involved — the least of which Hamlin, his family and the Bills — Taylor is trying to get past his frustrations.
After all, if they win on Sunday the coin flip doesn’t matter.
“It seems like there are positives for a lot of teams and just negatives for us,” Taylor said, via The Enquirer. “So, we have the opportunity to play for a coin flip that can only negatively impact us. We don’t have the opportunity to play for a coin flip that positively impact us. Again, let’s just follow the rules and we accept that. We just have to turn our focus to getting ready for Baltimore and then doing everything we can to control what we can control at that point.”
Taylor’s players seem to be on the same page, too.
“Let’s settle it the real way and f***ing win,” lineman Ted Karras said, via WCPO’s Caleb Noe.
“It is what it is. Our goal is to win Sunday, that cleans a lot of that up.”