The Cincinnati Bengals have been practicing inside Paul Brown Stadium this week with crowd noise being pumped in to simulate the hostile environment they will be walking into Sunday in Kansas City.
Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs are hosting the Bengals in the AFC Championship, is known as one of the loudest stadiums in the league, and the home crowd will be trying to make things difficult on Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati offense.
“It really starts with me getting the play in quickly so Joe’s got time to discuss in the huddle and make the adjustments at the line of scrimmage that we need,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said on a conference call Thursday with local media. “We’ve played in really loud environments before. I know this will be a different situation, and with that brings a different ramp up of crowd noise. We’ve been in the stadium. We’ve used our stadium speakers. I think it’s been really effective and allowed us to get good quality work and stress our communication so that we’ll be ready on Sunday.”
Burrow said playing in the SEC in college prepared him for playing in hostile environments, though he noted on Sunday at Tennessee he doesn’t normally notice the crowd noise.
Communication, both verbal and non-verbal, will be key for the offense.
“At the end of the day we just got to be perfect with our hand signals, with the communication,” wide receiver Tyler Boyd said. W”e got to stay locked in and keep eyes on the quarterback and he’ll just get us in the right calls and we’ll know what we’re doing.”
Going up against a veteran coach
Chiefs coach Andy Reid will be going for his 20th playoff win as a head coach Sunday, while Taylor, in his third season, is going for No. 3.
Asked if Reid’s experience rattles him at all, Taylor acknowledged that Reid has an advantage having been in this situation before as the Chiefs are playing in their fourth straight AFC Championship. However, Taylor is still confident the Bengals will be well-prepared.
“I have so much respect for him,” Taylor said. “Experience does factor into it. He’s experienced a lot of situations and he’s probably learned from every single one of them. There is a certain calmness on his end I would imagine. He’s been there, done that. He’s been there, done that with this group of guys. But on the flip side of it, we spend a lot of time and effort talking through situations with our team as well and what we present to the team. I’ve got a lot of faith in our communication process and our players being able to handle different situations that come up at a moment’s notice at the end of the game, the end of a half or a critical moment. I think we’ve been a really good situational team this year. Our players have done that. So I have every confidence we’ll be able to handle moments in games like this.”
Defensive end Cam Sample did not participate in practice Thursday for a second straight day, and wide receiver Stanley Morgan and defensive tackle Josh Tupou were limited both Wednesday and Thursday, according to the team injury report.
Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu returned to practice Thursday, according to reports from Kansas City, as he is working through concussion protocols following a collision in Sunday’s playoff win over Buffalo. Mathieu did not practice Wednesday and was the only active player that wasn’t a full participant.
According to TickPick.com, a no-fee secondary ticket marketplace, this matchup Sunday is the third most expensive AFC Championship on record. The average purchase price on TickPick was $556 on Thursday, and the “get-in” price was $510.
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