Last Saturday’s opening AFC divisional round playoff game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Tennessee Titans began a weekend of incredible games. The outcome of each of the four in NFL postseason matchups were decided on the final play.
The Bengals, the AFC’s No. 4 seed, knocked off the top seeded Titans by 19-16 on the road on a field goal as time expired to advance to the AFC Championship Game on Sunday. With the score tied at 16, rookie Evan McPherson kicked a 52-yarder advancing the Bengals to the conference championship game for the first time since 1988.
They will be taking on the Kansas City Chiefs, who are returning to the conference final for a fourth straight time. The Chiefs are also the first team to ever host four consecutive conference championship games. The winner moves on to the Super Bowl.
“That’s a kicker’s dream,” said McPherson, “to have the game on your shoulders.” Overall McPherson was 4-4 on field goals, including a long of 54 yards.
“We’re here to make some noise, and teams are going to have to pay attention to us,” Bengals second-year quarterback Joe Burrow emphatically stated. Burrow was impressive in completing
28 of his 37 passes for 348 yards and one interception. He endured endless pressure from the Titans defense and was sacked nine times.
While the Bengals-Titans game was low scoring, the Chiefs-Buffalo Bills pairing was an offensive slugfest, with the Chiefs landing the final blow. They defeated the Bills 42-36 in overtime in what was an epic playoff battle. The teams combined for 25 points in the last 2 minutes of regulation with the lead exchanging three times. The Chiefs’ Harrison Butker’s 48-yard field goal at the end of regulation sent the game into overtime.
The Chiefs won the coin toss and their sensational quarterback Patrick Mahomes led them on a eight-play, 75-yard drive capped off by an eight-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce to end the game and send them to a meeting with the Bengals this Sunday (3:00 p.m.). Mahomes threw for 378 yards, connecting on 33 of his 44 passes and three touchdowns. He also ran for a team-high 69.
Bills QB Josh Allen was just as spectacular, going 27-37 for 329 yards with 68 on the ground. Buffalo’s most glaring fault was calling the wrong side of the coin before it was tossed to determine which team would get the ball to start overtime. NFL rules state that if a team scores a touchdown on the opening possession in overtime, it ends the game.
“All you can do is play the rules the way the rules are explained, and that’s what we did,” said Mahomes.
This will be the second meeting this season between the Bengals and Chiefs. The Bengals had a narrow 34-31 win in Cincinnati on Jan. 2.