Bengals’ Pratt regrets reaction to Ossai penalty

CINCINNATI — Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt expressed contrition for his reaction that went viral after the team’s AFC Championship Game loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

As Pratt entered the visitors locker room at Arrowhead Stadium, Pratt was spotted by Spectrum News Ohio yelling, “Why would you touch the f—ing quarterback?,” referencing defensive end Joseph Ossai‘s penalty for unnecessary roughness that preceded the game-winning field goal.

On Monday, Pratt said the way he responded was incorrect.

“I was in the moment,” Pratt said. “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.”

The penalty set up Harrison Butker‘s 45-yard field goal with three seconds left, giving Kansas City a 23-20 victory in a rematch of last year’s AFC title game. Kansas City’s win prevented the Bengals from making a repeat trip to the Super Bowl and ended Cincinnati’s three-game winning streak against the Chiefs that started during the 2021 regular season.

“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.”

After the game, Ossai met with reporters and took blame for the penalty. Bengals defensive tackle BJ Hill stood alongside Ossai to support the 22-year-old playing in his first NFL season and screen any unfavorable questions from reporters.

When asked whether he had spoken to Ossai since Sunday night, Pratt said he “went around and talked to every guy” in the wake of the defeat.

Over the past four seasons, Pratt has developed into one of Cincinnati’s most influential defenders. In the 2021 postseason, his interception sealed a wild-card win over the Las Vegas Raiders, Cincinnati’s first playoff victory in 31 years. This year, Pratt forced a fumble in the Week 13 game against Kansas City that was a turning point in the 27-24 win against the AFC West team.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor said that in close games that end in a loss, events at the end of a game tend to get highlighted more than others that also played a key role in the outcome.

“There’s certainly at least one thing every coach and every player wishes we would have done differently in that game,” Taylor said. “And so it was awesome to see those guys support each other in a really tough, tough moment.”

In Pratt’s postgame video, which had been played more than 9 million times on Twitter as of Monday afternoon, he also said this was his “f—ing last year,” a reference to his expiring contract. The 2019 third-round draft pick is set to become a free agent this offseason.

When asked whether he would return, Pratt indicated that although money will play a role in the decision, he also wants to play for a team that competes for championships and said he hopes to remain with the Bengals.

“The brotherhood we built around here is unmatched,” Pratt said. “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.”

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