Cincinnati edge out Kansas City at AFC Championship game
By Joe Clark, Sports Editor
The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 in overtime on Sunday afternoon in the AFC Championship game, clinching the team’s third trip to the Super Bowl, the first since 1989.
Cincinnati trailed 21-10 at the half after trailing 21-3 earlier in the game. Right before halftime, cornerback Eli Apple tackled Chiefs’ wide receiver Tyreek Hill short of the goal line to keep Kansas City from taking an even bigger lead. That play seemed to shift the momentum of the game, as Cincinnati stifled KC quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the second half.
With the game knotted up at 21, Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow kept the team’s chances alive with two clutch third down scrambles to pick up first downs. Burrow finished the game with 250 yards through the air and two touchdowns, while tacking on 25 rushing yards.
Rookie kicker Evan McPherson booted a 52-yard field goal with 6:04 left in the game, giving the Bengals a 24-21 lead. However, Mahomes responded with the Chiefs’ only scoring drive of the second half, advancing all the way to the Cincinnati five yard-line before taking two sacks. This set up kicker Harrison Butker’s 44-yard field goal which sent the game to overtime.
The Chiefs won the coin toss to open up overtime, but Mahomes threw an interception on a third down and the Bengals drove to set up the game-winning field goal, a 31-yard kick from McPherson.
“I’d say nobody blinked an eye,” McPherson said of the Bengals early deficit. “I think we all thought we were going to come back and win the game.”
The loss prevented Kansas City from making their third straight Super Bowl appearance.
The Bengals were widely predicted to finish third or fourth in the AFC North this year, and not many pundits painted them as a playoff team. Now, two weeks before the last game of the season, Cincinnati is one of the best teams in the NFL. Regardless of whether or not they finish the job in two weeks at SoFi Stadium against the Los Angeles Rams, it’s been a monumental season for the orange and black.