Bengals beat Kansas City to qualify for Super Bowl

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the past three decades or so, the Cincinnati Bengals have dabbled in miserable football and entertaining football...

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the past three decades or so, the Cincinnati Bengals have dabbled in miserable football and entertaining football, tedious football and effective football, but it’s only in this postseason that managed to play the brand of football they most wanted.

After going 31 years between playoff victories, a period of futility unmatched in major professional sports, the Bengals have now triumphed three times in two weeks. Their latest and craziest conquest defeated defending AFC champion Kansas City in a second-half comeback that the good folks of Southwest Ohio and surrounding areas will hail for eons.

And Sunday’s final score — 27-24, in overtime, earned on Evan McPherson’s 31-yard field goal — will also linger on their tongues, digital confirmation that the Bengals’ newfound penchant for playing game-winning football has escorted them. until the Super Bowl. Not since Ickey Woods shuffled and Boomer Esiason threw left-hand passes and David Fulcher prowled the secondary in the 1988 NFL season had Cincinnati reached the final game of the season. The franchise has never won a championship.

“It’s a special team that’s capable of doing special things,” coach Zac Taylor said, “and we believed from the start whether people believed in us or not.”

The group that fired fourth-seeded Cincinnati to the Super Bowl against the Los Angeles Rams is led by a cigar-smoking quarterback, wearing Cartier sunglasses and a diamond pendant who feels no pressure or pain.

By becoming the first quarterback drafted No. 1 overall to reach a Super Bowl in his first two seasons, Joe Burrow sent Cincinnati into a certified tizzy by leading his team to 21 straight points, erasing a 21 deficit. -3 in the first half. Growing up as a Kansas City fan, Burrow attended Athens High School in The Plains, Ohio, about 150 miles east of Cincinnati, when the Bengals suffered three of their eight straight playoff losses.

In overtime, he followed Patrick Mahomes’ interception on the opening possession pushing the Bengals 42 yards down to set up McPherson’s fourth field goal of the game and prevented another crushing loss.

“I knew after I got that first save, it was in Joe’s hands,” defensive end Sam Hubbard said, “and we were good.”

It was McPherson’s 12th basket in a row this postseason, and unlike last week, when he told backup quarterback Brandon Allen before his game-winning Tennessee kick that the Bengals were headed for the game of AFC championship, this time he kept his confidence to himself. But that bullet, he said Sunday night, was absolutely sailing through the uprights.

The Bengals, after going 6-25-1 the past two seasons and finishing bottom of the AFC North last season after Burrow tore knee ligaments in Week 11, have took advantage of his imperturbable nonchalance to go wild in the lecture slot. Afterwards, he said he was more surprised that one of his favorite rappers, Kid Cudi, contacted him – and that LeBron James, another Ohio native, congratulated him in a Twitter post – than on Sunday’s result.

“That part is surreal,” Burrow said. “The soccer part, not so much.”

Burrow spoke about an hour after handing Mahomes his first playoff loss against a team managed by someone other than Tom Brady. He wore all black and, oh yes, that pendant.

“They’re really real,” Burrow said, smiling, of the gemstones that spelled out JB9 on his chest. “I make too much money to have fake ones, so these are real ones.”

And all that happened for 3 hours and 14 minutes of outright chaos. Kansas City’s three touchdowns in three drives to start the game. Deft interception by defensive tackle BJ Hill that set the Bengals up for the tying score late in the third quarter, Burrow’s 2-yard back pass to former Louisiana State teammate Ja’Marr Chase. The crowd of Cincinnati fans, wearing Bengal-striped shawls and jerseys of past and present heroes, who gathered in the lower bowl to watch the presentation of the AFC Championship trophy, named after Lamar Hunt, the founder and owner Kansas City franchise original.

After an uneven start to the season, Kansas City had lost just one game since Halloween — a 34-31 loss to the Bengals in Cincinnati on Jan. 2 — and the precedent suggested Sunday would deliver the opposite result. Over the past three years, he had won all five rematches against teams he had lost to earlier in the season, while scoring more than 39 points per game.

The most recent payback came in the same place last week, when Kansas City unleashed an absurd comeback — a field goal drive in three plays, 44 yards and 13 seconds — to tie Buffalo at the end. of the regulations before winning the divisional round. game in overtime.

As then, Kansas City won the overtime toss. But instead of driving for the game-winning touchdown on Sunday, Mahomes, looking for Tyreek Hill, threw an interception — his second of the game — that appeared to fall off Cincinnati’s Hill and Jessie Bates and defensive back Vonn. bell.

Eleven games later, McPherson drilled his long and true kick, denying Kansas City its third straight Super Bowl trip and sending his Bengals teammates spilling onto the field, almost a repeat of the Week 17 meeting of the teams.

Sunday’s game felt like it stuck to the basic pattern of this game, with Mahomes displaying his magnificent off-the-cuff, unstoppable version of football in the first half before the Bengals found their compass.

And just like in that previous game, Kansas City amassed a first-half lead that they eventually gave up. On Sunday, Kansas City headed into halftime in the lead, 21-10, and the margin could have been – should have been? – wider if not for a curious play call and an excellent tackle from Bengals cornerback Eli Apple.

With five seconds left in the first half, no timeouts and the ball at the Cincinnati 1-yard line, coach Andy Reid, avoiding the close field goal attempt, tried to put the Bengals out of action. Mahomes sent a pass to Hill at the 5-yard line, and Apple – after committing the pass interference penalty that gave Kansas City the ball near the goal line – preserved the 11-point deficit in the standing up.

It was the first of six consecutive defensive stops for the Bengals, who held off an offense that had scored 84 points the past two weeks to just 3 after halftime.

“We were made for this moment,” Bell said.

Last week, Burrow proclaimed his disgust at what he called the “underdog narrative” surrounding the Bengals, demanding the team be taken seriously. He had already changed the team’s slogan, to “It Is Us” from “Why Not Us?”, and his teammates agreed.

“That’s not really the idea you want to have in your head when you step into the ring,” left tackle Jonah Williams said last week. “It’s not, ‘Why can’t I knock this guy out?’ It’s, ‘I’m going to knock this guy out.’ It’s a much more powerful attitude to have.

The NFL’s most unassailable truth tended to come out this time of year: No matter how Kansas City plays at the start of the season, and now no matter how Kansas City plays mid-season, its roster to home always ends in the AFC Championship — and, the last two years, in rapture.

But not this year. Once under siege, now the best in the AFC, the Bengals are heading to the Super Bowl.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Bengals beat Kansas City to qualify for Super Bowl
Bengals beat Kansas City to qualify for Super Bowl
Newsrust - US Top News
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