The Cincinnati Bengals’ unlikely playoff run will include a chance to capture the franchise’s first ever Super Bowl title.
A heroic effort from the Bengals’ defense in the second half, a steady performance by quarterback Joe Burrow and more postseason magic from kicker Evan McPherson caused Cincinnati to upset Patrick Mahomes and the reigning AFC champion, the Kansas City Chiefs, by 27-24 in extended playing time Sunday.
The Bengals must play against either the Los Angeles Rams or the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. The NFC Championship game is underway at the moment.
Early on, it seemed as if the Chiefs were simply too strong for the visiting Bengals, scoring touchdowns on the team’s first three offensive ball possessions and opening a leading 21-3.
But despite trailing 21-10 at the break, Cincinnati came out of the locker room with renewed spirit, keeping Kansas City goalless for 29:57 minutes, and in the process scored 21 unanswered points to open a 24-21 lead.
After final possession of the regulation, the Mahomes and Chiefs got the ball on their own 35, then continued to march in the length of the field and came as close as the Cincinnati 4-yard line. The drive stalled, however, as Mahomes was fired on third down while fumbling uncertainly in the process.
Kansas City regained the fumble, putting Harrison Butker up to the 44-yard field that let the game tie as time went on. The Chiefs won the coin toss to begin overtime with possession, but a timely interception by Bengals safety Vonn Bell created the winning streak for Cincinnati, which was completed when McPherson hit a 31-yard field goal to end it.
Second-year Cincinnati signalman Burrow had the command in the extra session, calmly directing the Bengals on the final game-winning drive. In the afternoon, Burrow had 23-38 in 250 yards and threw a couple of TDs in the second half against one interception.
Mahomes, meanwhile, was magical in the first half before sputtering after the break. Looking for a third Super Bowl appearance in a row, Mahomes finished 26-39 for 275 yards, with a trio of touchdown passes in the first half and a few interceptions in the second half, including the expensive one in overtime.