Bengals win first ever road playoff game on McPherson Field Goal at the Horn
NASHVILLE – January 22, 2022 – Brendon D. Miller
They Did it!! Despite a withering attack from the Titans Defensive Line, sacking Joe Burrow a playoff record tying nine times on the game, the Bengals Prevailed 19-16 in Music City to punch their ticket to either Kansas City or Buffalo for the AFC Championship Game next Sunday.
It looked as the Bengals may have let their chance at victory slip away, as the Titans scored 10 consective points to tie the game at 16, and had the ball with a chance to drive down for a game-winner. But Eli Apple tipped a Ryan Tannehill pass to Logan Wilson with less than :25 on the clock, giving the Bengals a chance. Joey B then hit Ja’Marr Chase to set up Money Mac – Evan McPherson, for his fourth field goal of the day. The kick split the uprights from 52, and the Bengals will keep on playing!
Cincy certainly has something special in Burrow.
Burrow showed his “winning character” on the opening drive of the second half. The Bengals had driven to the Titan 23 yard line. Depsite having already been sacked six times, Burrow dropped back on Third and Five, Joe scrambled up the middle for seven, and a first down. On the next snap, Joe Mixon cut back and high-stepped into the end zone for the Bengals only TD of the game.
Burrow is just a leader. To listen to him, you would think that he, and the Bengals have been here before.
“I’m tired of the underdog narrative,” Burrow said. “We’re a really good team, and we’re here to make noise. Teams will have to pay attention to us.”
“This Bengals team will be remembered forever,” said the hero McPherson. “The city is on fire, and it’ll probably burn down tonight. Then we’ll burn it down next week and have a whole city fly out to California for a Super Bowl.”
“Our team never panics,” Taylor said. “You’ve seen us down by a whole lot… It never fazes our guys. Tie games down the stretch is something our guys live for.”
In the last four minutes of the first half, Burrow’s headset to communicate with the coaching staff broke for a series of plays. With no direct line to the sideline, Taylor tried to shout plays to Burrow, and then Burrow had to run across the backfield to communicate it to the rest of the offense.
Just like he has all season in the biggest moments, Burrow responded to the massive moment.
“This is not normal,” Burrow said. “This one was really, really hard and an intense game. This is what playoff football this deep into January is like.”
Burrow made his best two throws of the half in that situation, and the Bengals took a 9-6 lead into halftime.
Then on the Bengals’ opening drive of the third quarter, Burrow bounced back from a first-down sack in Titans’ territory. On third down, he dove for the first-down line when he didn’t have any open receivers. On the following play, Mixon ran for a 16-yard touchdown as the Bengals took a 16-6 lead.
At the start of the season, the Bengals weren’t supposed to be a team that could win grind-it-out games. The Bengals had too many new pieces on the defense and no big names at any position on that side of the ball.
Just like Burrow, the Bengals defense had all the right qualities to send the team into the next round.
“Everyone is good when you get to this point, and you’ve got to find a way whether it’s ugly or whether it’s pretty,” Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson said. “Today we found a way to win. Obviously, we have confidence we can find ways to win going forward.”
Bates opened the game with a pick, Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton deflected an interception to himself and Cincinnati’s run defense held one of the NFL’s best running backs in check for most of the game.
While Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill found star wide receiver A.J. Brown for three deep catches that kept the Titans in the game, the Bengals’ defense won at the line of scrimmage when it mattered. On one of the most important plays of the game, Bengals backup linebacker Clay Johnston stuffed Titans running back Derrick Henry at the goal line on a two-point conversion attempt.
Then with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Bengals’ defense made an even bigger stop. On 4th and 1 from the Bengals’ 35-yard line in a tie game, Bengals linebackers Logan Wilson and Markus Bailey made the tackle on Henry in the backfield for the turnover on downs.
Following Wilson’s interception, Burrow made the throw of his career, and the Bengals made the game-winning field goal at the buzzer.
“I want these guys to enjoy it because we’ve been through times where we didn’t get to enjoy anything,” Taylor said. “They say act like you’ve been there before, but our guys have earned the right to be excited.”
Burrow has said he doesn’t remember a single moment at any level in any sport where on the biggest stage he didn’t play at the level he expected.
When asked earlier this week, he laughed at the notion that he would have struggled when it mattered most. Whether it was a high school basketball tournament or his legendary Heisman run at LSU, Burrow was always the best player in the biggest games.
Burrow didn’t have enough time on Saturday to play at an MVP level. But he set the tone when the Bengals could have fallen apart, and now the Bengals are one more win away from playing in the Super Bowl.
“We’re a really young team, and we don’t know what we don’t know,” Burrow said. “We’re out there playing football with our friends. It’s a lot of fun.”