Bengals vs. Chiefs AFC Championship Recap
It was all but over.
At least that’s what it felt like when the Kansas City Chiefs went up 21-3 against the Cincinnati Bengals in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.
The Chiefs came in with the fourth-ranked offense in terms of points per game, averaging 28.2 points each time they took the field, and by the way the AFC Championship started, it looked like they were on pace for that mark.
Kansas City and company got their way in the first half, with three first-half passing touchdowns that gave them an 18-point advantage with around five minutes left in the half.
The Bengals’ offense was stagnant, only posting a field goal through the first 29 minutes of play, until running back Samaje Perine took a Joe Burrow screen pass 41 yards to the house with a minute left until halftime.
In typical Chiefs fashion, their high-powered offense marched down the field, reaching Cincinnati’s 1-yard line with nine seconds left.
On the first play, Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw an incomplete pass intended for wide receiver Tyreek Hill, leaving five seconds on the clock.
Instead of kicking a field goal, Kansas City coach Andy Reid elected to let the offense run another play.
In arguably the turning point of the game, Mahomes again dropped back to pass, and this time, completed his attempt to Hill out in the left flat.
Hill was met by Bengals cornerback Eli Apple behind the line of scrimmage, effectively ending the half without any additional points for the Chiefs.
The second half started slow with the first three drives of the second half resulting in punts.
Cincinnati broke the drought with Evan McPherson’s second field goal of the day, cutting the Chiefs lead to eight with around three minutes left in the third.
Kansas City’s next drive lasted two plays before Mahomes threw an interception in his own territory, immediately bringing Arrowhead Stadium to its feet.
Five plays later, Burrow found the record-breaking rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase for a touchdown, which was followed by a successful two-point conversion on a pass to wide receiver Trent Taylor.
The potential blowout that was thought to happen in the second quarter was dwindled to a tie game.
After another Chiefs punt, Burrow threw an interception on the first play, targeting Chase. However, the Bengals defense stepped up and forced a three-and-out.
Cincinnati embarked on an 11-play drive that resulted in a 52-yard field-goal attempt that was converted by McPherson, giving the Bengals a 24-21 lead with six minutes remaining.
The Chiefs’ offense had another chance to satisfy the Arrowhead faithful, or at least force overtime.
Kansas City drove down the field to the Bengals’ 5-yard line with a fresh set of downs.
After a one-yard run, Bengals’ defensive end Sam Hubbard sacked Mahomes on consecutive plays resulting in a loss of 20 yards, setting up a 44-yard field goal for Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker.
Butker nailed the kick to send the AFC Championship to overtime, with both teams knotted at 24 points.
Just like the Chiefs’ divisional round game against the Buffalo Bills, Reid’s squad won the coin toss and had a chance to win under the heavily-scrutinized overtime rules.
Mahomes opened overtime with two consecutive incompletions until disaster struck.
On a deep pass intended for Hill, Bengals’ safety Jessie Bates batted the ball into the hands of fellow safety Vonn Bell for an interception.
In a total uprooting of the first half, the Bengals could win and appear in the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance since 1988.
After five Joe Mixon carries and two Tee Higgins receptions, Cincinnati had a 31-yard field goal attempt to do just that.
Cold as ice, the rookie McPherson drilled his fourth field goal of the contest to send the Chiefs packing.
The Bengals 18-point comeback tied the AFC Championship game record and coach Zac Taylor’s team will face the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI.
Zach Allen is a second-year majoring in print & digital journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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