The pain of defeat overwhelmed Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt, who shouted angrily at his teammate in the immediate moments following Sunday night’s AFC Championship Game loss to the Bengals.
A day later, Pratt expressed regret for his actions and harsh words for fellow defender Joseph Ossai.
“I was emotional. I was in the moment,” Pratt explained Monday. “I would say I was wrong. As a man, you can look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I was wrong. I wasn’t a great teammate in that moment.’
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“But that don’t define me as a man. It is what it is. It’s 24 hours. I’m 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 fiancee, who loves me. That’s all that matters. All the other stuff is irrelevant. Back to work.”
Pratt was understandably upset with how the game ended. Facing third-and-4 in the final seconds of a 20-20 game, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes scrambled around the right end, picking up the first down and crossing the sideline out of bounds at Cincinnati’s 42-yard line when Ossai shoved him from behind, sending Mahomes flying toward Cincinnati’s bench and forcing officials to penalize Ossai for unnecessary roughness. The penalty added 15 yards to Mahomes’ gain, shortening the distance required for Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker to convert a 45-yard, go-ahead field goal with eight seconds remaining.
Butker succeeded, and Cincinnati went on to lose 23-20, ending its season one win shy of a return trip to the Super Bowl.
“I was in full chase mode and trying to push to get him going backwards, I knew he was going for the sideline,” Ossai said, via Cleveland.com’s Michael Niziolek. “…I didn’t know how far out of bounds we were.”
As Bengals players filed through the tunnel and into their locker room at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Pratt let his frustration be heard, shouting “why the f— did you touch the quarterback?”
Moments later, Ossai was forced to answer questions about his blunder while also expressing gratitude for the support of other teammates, notably defensive tackle B.J. Hill, who stood by Ossai’s side in the locker room and defended him.
“Dumb question, he played his butt off the whole game,” Hill said. “Ask a different question.”
A day later, Bengals coach Zac Taylor was appreciative of the support of players like Hill.
“That was awesome to see those guys support each other in a really tough moment,” Taylor said. “Joseph is a guy who leaves his heart and soul on the field everything single day whether it’s in practice or in games. So I appreciate that about him.”
Sunday was Pratt’s final game played under his rookie contract, which expires at the start of the new league year. He’ll approach free agency with a sour taste in his mouth after the loss to the Chiefs. We’ll see how his actions affect Cincinnati’s decision on his future.
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