CINCINNATI — Everyone might be talking about the biggest mismatch in Super Bowl LVI.
The Cincinnati Bengals are not.
Bengals assistant coach Frank Pollack said Tuesday that the offensive line isn’t concerned about how it’s viewed heading into Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams, who have one of the best defensive fronts in the league.
“I don’t get caught up in all that stuff,” Pollack said. “That’s a nice story for you guys and the fans to worry about. Not for us.”
The Rams finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in pass-rush win rate, according to NFL Next Gen and ESPN. The Bengals were 30th in pass-block win rate.
Los Angeles’ defensive line boasts defensive tackle Aaron Donald, whom Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor referred to as one of the greatest players of all time.
The Rams bolstered that front midseason with Von Miller, the MVP of Super Bowl LV.
Cincinnati, meanwhile, has been trying to find a group that works on the right side of the line. The Bengals used rookie Jackson Carman and second-year player Hakeem Adeniji at right guard in the AFC Championship Game victory against the Kansas City Chiefs. They played alongside Isaiah Prince, who is starting at right tackle after Riley Reiff was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury earlier in the season.
Pollack, who declined to comment on Carman’s back injury that kept him out of a practice last week, said the rotation strategy kept the two guards fresh and promoted competition ahead of the Super Bowl.
“They’ve been a little inconsistent in some areas, but they’ve been working hard on improving those,” Pollack said. “I like the work they’ve put in this week.”
The veteran assistant, whom Cincinnati rehired before the 2021 season, also praised the unit’s collective resiliency, especially after giving up nine sacks in the AFC divisional round victory against the top-seeded Tennessee Titans.
Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan agreed.
“I’ve got a ton of confidence in our guys up front,” Callahan said. “They’re battle-tested. They’ve played in tough games. They’ve managed. They’ve made mistakes. They’ve given up sacks. They just keep coming back and fighting. That’s all you can ask for at this point in the year.”
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow made history by becoming the first player in NFL history to be sacked 50 or more times in the regular season and reach the Super Bowl. Burrow was sacked 51 times.
However, throughout the season, Taylor has been adamant that not all sacks are created equally and the offensive line isn’t at fault for all of them. During Tuesday’s virtual news conferences in Los Angeles, Callahan added that the Bengals have faced some of the best pass-rushers in the NFL.
Donald was second in the NFL in first pressures during the regular season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Las Vegas Raiders edge rusher Maxx Crosby, who was first, had three pressures in the wild-card loss to Cincinnati but was held below his pressure percentage from the regular season.
Pollack added that in key moments, such as the end of the game against Tennessee that featured a clean pocket that allowed Burrow to put Cincinnati in position for a game-winning field goal, the line has played well.
Cincinnati’s coaches know the Rams might be the toughest test the pass blocking has faced all season. But they say the Bengals are up for the challenge.
“They’re damn good,” Pollack said. “But we’ve faced a lot of damn good D-lines. The league’s chock-full of them.”