The Journal Gazette
 
 
Sunday, January 23, 2022 1:00 am

Cincinnati 19 Tennessee 16

Bengals oust Titans on last-second kick

TERESA M. WALKER | Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Maybe, just maybe, these young Cincinnati Bengals really are that good.

Especially with the way they keep ending postseason droughts. And with their latest victory putting them in the franchise's first AFC championship game in 33 years – and a win away from the Super Bowl.

Rookie Evan McPherson kicked a 52-yard field goal as time expired to lift the fourth-seeded Bengals past the top-seeded Tennessee Titans 19-16 on Saturday to end the NFL's longest active road playoff skid.

“He's got ice in his veins,” Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor said of McPherson. “There's not much more to be said. He's just as cool as it gets.”

A week after snapping a 31-year playoff victory drought, the Bengals (12-7) finally won their first road game in the postseason after losing their first seven. They reached the 1981 and 1988 Super Bowls by winning on their home field.

“We're here to make some noise, and teams are going to have to pay attention to us,” Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow said.

Cincinnati will play in the AFC championship game Jan. 30 at the winner of the Buffalo-Kansas City matchup. They play in the other AFC divisional round game today.

The Bengals intercepted Ryan Tannehill three times, including an interception by Snider graduate Jesse Bates on Tannehill's first pass, to set up two of McPherson's four field goals.

Logan Wilson picked off Tannehill with 20 seconds left. Burrow then hit Pro Bowl rookie receiver Ja'Marr Chase with a 19-yard pass, and the Bengals ran twice to set up McPherson for the win.

“That's a kicker's dream,” McPherson said, “to have the game on your shoulders.”

Burrow shook off being sacked nine times as Tennessee tied an NFL mark held by four other teams for the most in the postseason. He threw for 348 yards to become the first quarterback taken No. 1 overall to win a divisional game within his first two seasons.

Chase finished with 109 yards receiving.

Joe Mixon ran for the Bengals' lone touchdown, a 16-yarder on their first drive of the third quarter.

“We found a way all year,” Burrow said. “Man, crazy, crazy game. That's a really, really good team. Unbelievable defensive line. They had a great plan on defense. Credit to them, we found a way at the end.”

The Titans (12-6) wrapped up their 25th season in Tennessee with their third straight loss on their own field as the AFC's No. 1 seed. They haven't won at home in the postseason since January 2003.

“I don't think Ryan or myself or anybody did enough to win the game,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “That's how it goes. It's never going to be about one person, not as long as I'm head coach, which will be a while.”


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