NFL: Bengals' big win over Ravens a "box we needed to check" - Taylor
The Cincinnati Bengals, who haven't made the playoffs for five years, now top the AFC North division after thumping the Baltimore Ravens.
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor says his team's win over the Baltimore Ravens, which saw them take the lead in the AFC North division, was "a box we needed to check".
Bengals at 5-2 after thumping Ravens
A stunning 41-17 rout of the Ravens on the road at M&T Bank Stadium saw the Bengals improve to 5-2.
Second-year quarterback Joe Burrow threw for a career-high 416 yards and three touchdowns, his connection with former college team-mate Ja'Marr Chase again fuelling Cincinnati as the rookie receiver went for 201 yards, 82 of which came on a spectacular third-quarter touchdown that put the Bengals in command.
Cincinnati without a postseason win in 31 years
Taylor's team are shaking off the Bengals' reputation as a franchise defined by their failures, Cincinnati having missed the playoffs in each of the past five seasons and failed to win a postseason game since the 1990 campaign.
"It's a different team," Taylor said. "We're allowed to build and improve, and we just have a different mentality right now.
"We've done a lot of different things to get to this position, and I've given out a lot of tough speeches over time about great things to come and keep working.
"And you hope and pray that the team believes in that. That's the foundation of what we're building, and this is the result. This is their moment. Everything we've talked about, we've earned.
"These are just things we needed to check off. Baltimore has really taken it to us the last several times we have played them, and we don't run from that.
"So, I won't say we needed to prove it to ourselves, because we had a lot of people in that locker room who were confident going into that game today. But this was a box we needed to check."
Bengals now need to beat Ravens, Steelers again - Burrow
Despite their unexpected position atop the division, Burrow – who led Cincinnati to another division road win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3 – knows the Bengals still need to make strides if they are to avoid the Ravens reversing the result when the teams meet again in a Week 16 clash in December that could have a decisive impact on who wins the division.
"We know exactly what the future holds," Burrow told Peter King for his Football Morning in America column.
"We're gonna have to come back and beat both these guys [the Steelers and Ravens] again, play them on our home turf. They'll be excited to come in and try to end our season early. We're gonna have to keep getting better each week. I know it sounds cliche but we really just gotta keep getting better.
"The one thing I know about the NFL is how good these teams are. Baltimore's a really, really good team. They'll come back with vengeance the next time we play them.
"Today was very exciting for us. It's exciting that the preparation that we put in all offseason and this week showed up on the field. Five and two's good, but it's 5-2."