Kansas City made plays in crunch time vs. Cincy to advance to the Super Bowl
By Pat Gainor, Staff Writer
The Cincinnati Bengals fell just short of their second straight AFC Championship win against the Kansas City Chiefs 23-20 due to a last-second field goal by Harrison Butker.
After their dominant win in Orchard Park against the Bills last week, confidence was at an all-time high. Players and fans were deeming Arrowhead Stadium “Burrowhead” thanks to Joe Burrow’s 3-0 record against Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes coming into the game. Cornerback Eli Apple was trash-talking on Twitter after the win and even Cincinnati’s Mayor, Aftab Pureval,, ordered a paternity test of Mahomes to show that Joe Burrow was his father. With Mahomes and the Chiefs’ defense banged up, the Bengals had a prime opportunity to return to the Super Bowl.
However, the offense was stifled out of the gate, with Burrow getting sacked three times in the first nine plays of the game. Despite managing to kick a field goal, a brutal Burrow interception would bury the Bengals in a 13-3 hole.
Cincinnati would be able to score a field goal before halftime, and they would score a touchdown off a Tee Higgins grab to tie up the game 13-13. But, Kansas City would respond with another Mahomes touchdown to receiver Marquez Valdez-Scantling and sack Burrow again to get the ball back up seven.
However, on the Chief’s drive, the ball would slip out of Mahomes’ hand as he was going into a throwing motion and was recovered by lineman Sam Hubbard to give the Bengals the ball and momentum back. Samaje Perine would score on a two-yard draw to tie the game up at 20 with 14 minutes to go.
Though Burrow was picked off again on an underthrown ball, the Bengals defense held, forcing the Chiefs to punt the ball away twice and give the Bengals the ball with two minutes left. However, a highly questionable intentional grounding penalty on Burrow and a late sack would force the Bengals to punt with 40 seconds left.
The Chiefs looked to be needing a miracle field goal to hold off overtime, but Mahomes was hit late out of bounds by defensive end Joseph Ossai, adding an extra 15 yards to the end of the play and setting up a 45-yard field goal attempt. Butker nailed the field goal, sending the Chiefs to the Super Bowl and ending the Bengals’ season in heartbreaking fashion.
“It’s a tough loss,” said Joe Burrow after the game. “We didn’t make the plays that we needed to win this game, and they did down the stretch. That’s what it came down to.” Burrow went 26/41 for 270 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He was sacked five times, the most since their loss to the Browns on Halloween night.
Joseph Ossai took full responsibility for the penalty that many say cost the Bengals their season. “I’ve just got to learn from experience and know not to get close to that quarterback when he’s close to the sideline,” he said, fighting back tears. “If there’s anything that could possibly cause a penalty in a dire situation like that. I’ve got to do better.”
Ossai had an excellent game before the penalty, making five solo tackles at the line, a tackle for loss and two quarterback hits.
The Bengals season has come to an end, with a final record of 14-5. Their 12 regular season wins are the most since the 2015-16 season. The Chiefs advance to the Super Bowl for the third time in five seasons and will face the Philadelphia Eagles as they both search for their second Lombardi trophy.