Ossai shoved Mahomes as he was going out of bounds at the end of a scramble, and the unnecessary roughness penalty with eight seconds left set up the game-winning field goal to end Cincinnati’s season one game short of a return to the Super Bowl. As the players were walking through the tunnel toward the team’s locker room, Pratt yelled, “This is my last season. … Why the (expletive) you touch the quarterback?”
Pratt addressed the issue Monday during an open locker room period following player exit meetings at Paycor Stadium.
“It’s a reaction that anybody has that’s a competitor,” Pratt said. “You know what was at stake in that moment. I love this game, no doubt about it. They talk about my character as a teammate. Some people never played this game. They don’t know how much effort guys put in the game. A guy made a mistake, over and done with it. I was emotional. I was in the moment. I was wrong. I would say I was wrong. As a man, you can look yourself in the mirror and say I was wrong. I wasn’t a great teammate in that moment. That doesn’t define me as a man.
“It is what it is, 24 hours, I am going back to work. I’ve got a great offseason ahead with my kids and family. That’s all that matters at the end of the day. When I go home to my kids they love me. When I go home to my fiancé who loves me that’s all that matters. All the offer stuff isn’t relevant. It’s back to work.”
When asked if he shared those sentiments with Ossai, Pratt said he went around the locker room and spoke to every player, support staff member and trainer he could to share how much he appreciated them this year and throughout his time in Cincinnati.
Pratt said that wouldn’t have been worthy of being recorded, seemingly taking a dig at the fact his comments Sunday were caught on camera.
The AFC Championship could have been his last with the Bengals, though, and that was something he seemed well aware of in saying this is his last year. He said he just meant that was the last year of his contract, but he would like to return if given the opportunity. Pratt was part of coach Zac Taylor’s first draft class in 2019, selected in the third round.
“I want to be a part of a team that wins,” Pratt said. “This teams wins, so I want to be a part of a team that competes for championships. We showcased it the last two years. I want to be around. There is no way I don’t want to be around my guys. That’s all I know. The brotherhood we built around here is unmatched. It’s unstoppable. Nobody can break us no matter how many people try to throw dirt on your name in the media, nobody can stop that. I want to be back here.”
Pratt has shared frustration in the past about not playing enough on third down and how he needed to be on the field more because he needs “to get paid.” Those comments were in reference to trying to earn his next contract, but the Bengals will have some tough decisions to make in free agency this year already knowing they want to extend Joe Burrow and likely will have to pay big money to do so.
Wide receiver Tee Higgins also is eligible for an extension, and Ja’Marr Chase will be due in the next wave. Cincinnati won’t be able to pay everyone what they want to keep the group together.
Pratt said for him, money is not the only factor, though.
“People say money and stuff, and money plays into it because you want to take care of your family and stuff, but winning plays a huge factor,” Pratt said. “I want to be a Super Bowl champion. You don’t play this game just to go out there get the money and go home. You’ll be miserable. You love this game so much you put so much time in it, you want to be a Super Bowl champion.”
Taylor said Monday the staff has communicated with players on expiring contracts to give them an idea where they stand. Pratt didn’t share any insight he’s received, but said he is willing to negotiate to stay with the Bengals.
“We’ve got Joe Burrow as a top quarterback,” Pratt said. “You want to be around a franchise quarterback that can compete for championships. Nobody wants to leave and go to a team that ain’t got a top-five quarterback that can take us to championships. I don’t want to leave that.”