As the Bengals were driving up the field ahead of their AFC-clinching field goal by Evan McPherson, the Chiefs wanted officials to take an extra look at the 13-yard run by Joe Mixon that set up first down from the Kansas City 12.
The Chiefs thought that Mixon went down untouched and dropped the ball. The clear recovery from the Chiefs defense meant that there could have been a turnover on a wild technicality.
The Chiefs did have somewhat of a case because it did look like Mixon wasn’t touched by the defense on the run. But the officials opted not to review the play because, according to Andy Reid, they thought Mixon gave himself up before dropping the ball.
“The leaders on this team know this isn’t our standard,’’ said Mahomes, who threw a touchdown pass on each of the Chiefs’ first three possessions but threw one interception in the second half and another in overtime. “We want to win the Super Bowl. Whenever you taste winning the Super Bowl, anything less than that is not success.
“It’s definitely disappointing. Here, with this group of guys that we have, we expect to be in that game and win that game, and anything less than that is not success. We’ll go back and look at all the things we did well, the adversity we battled through, the team we became at the end of the season and try to learn from the mistakes we made and try to be better next year.’’
Why the Chiefs lost
For basically the entirety of the first half, it looked like the Chiefs were going to walk into another AFC Championship and advance to the Super Bowl. They began the game hot as they scored three-straight touchdowns, but they did start to lose some steam heading into halftime.
They left points on the board just before the break as they mismanaged a scoring opportunity after getting the ball down the goal-line. Kansas City was in a first-and-goal situation from the 1-yard line with just nine seconds left in the first half and no timeouts. After an incomplete pass on first down, Mahomes threw a short pass to Hill that was at or just behind the line of scrimmage, the Bengals were able to take him and for no gain and, more importantly, allow the clock to run down to zero with no points added to the Chiefs lead.
Coming out of the break, the K.C. offense then went flat. They punted on their first two possessions and Mahomes then threw the first of his two interceptions on the day. Cincinnati was able to sandwich 10 points around that turnover to knot the game at 21 and swing the momentum in their favor. It seemed like the Chiefs also went away from doubling Ja’Marr Chase at times in the second half, which the rookie receiver took full advantage of, including that third-quarter score.
Meanwhile, those goal-line struggles reared their ugly head again in the second half. After getting the ball back with over six minutes to play in regulation and trailing by a field goal, it seemed like the Chiefs were destined to go down and score a touchdown. However, Mahomes was sacked on back-to-back plays after getting the football on the Cincinnati 4 yard line. The second sack was a poor sequence for the quarterback and nearly ended the Chiefs season. He dropped back and tried to scramble upon feeling the rush. Mahomes was then hit by Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard, who popped the ball free. Had Cincinnati jumped on that loose ball, they would have won in regulation. However, Chiefs guard Joe Thuney recovered the fumble.
Of course, the overtime interception on a third-and-10 deep shot down the field proved to be the fatal blow.
With two 200-yard performances through the season, Chase entered the postseason with confidence, as did fifth-round pick Evan McPherson.
As for Chase, he now has the record for most receiving yards for a rookie in postseason history. Chase also secured a game-changing touchdown for Cincinnati that brought them within two points, of which a two-point conversation quickly took care of.
Chase secured it with only his 49th yards in the Bengals’ AFC Championship battle. He had 116 yards against the Raiders on 9 receptions and 106 yards against the Titans on 5 receptions.
The Bengals' rookies are coming up big this postseason.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 30, 2022
Ja'Marr Chase now has the most receiving yards by a rookie in a playoff run in NFL history, and Evan McPherson has the most postseason FG by a rookie kicker in NFL history. pic.twitter.com/bDFuYVpMoB
As noted, McPherson, who has been the staple of Cincinnati’s offense, especially as it stalled in the red zone many times this postseason, now has the most field goals made by a rookie in playoff history.
1. 2021 Bengals
Cincinnati joined the ‘81 49ers and ‘03 Panthers as the only teams to reach the Super Bowl after owning the league’s worst record two years earlier. Playing in one of the NFL’s most competitive division, the Bengals overcame the odds behind the play of Burrow, wideouts Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and running back Joe Mixon, and a defense that could rush the passer and stop the run, while also coming up with big plays in big moments. The Bengals’ defense made a slew of big plays during the playoffs, none bigger than Vonn Bell’s interception of Mahomes in overtime that set up Evan McPherson’s game-winning kick.
The Bengals captured the AFC North and then knocked off the top-seeded Titans and the two-time defending AFC champion Chiefs. They also overcame the franchise’s stigma of being a team that always came up short in big moments. Cincinnati did that in spades to become the most unexpected Super Bowl team ever.
They got rolling and haven’t stopped, the Bengals spinning a surprising season into a stunning Super Bowl appearance with a 27-24 overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, who had represented the AFC in the last two Super Bowls. Burrow is the NFL’s new Joe Cool, heir to Montana’s temperament and field vision. Both have quickly elevated Burrow — and the Bengals with him — into the NFL’s elite, a placement that would have been laughable just eight months ago and looked to be nearing a crashing end in the first half.
“I never felt like we were out of it, but obviously 21-3 isn’t the most exciting position to be in,” Burrow said with a smile.
Burrow is almost perfectly constructed for the franchise he joined. The Bengals didn’t need him to provide just elite play. They needed him to provide bountiful confidence, a resistance to the feeling of impending doom that has felt like it has surrounded the franchise for decades.
Kelce surpassed Rob Gronkowski’s postseason record of 98 receptions in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs lost 27-24 in overtime, but with his 10 receptions for 95 yards and one touchdown on Sunday, Kelce became just the third player in league history to record more than 100 receptions in the playoffs. The other two are Jerry Rice (151) and Julian Edelman (118).
“(Kelce’s) just a competitor, man,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said.
“Obviously, he’s super-talented and everybody knows that. The routes he runs, how big and athletic he is and everything like that.”
Kelce broke the historic mark in the second quarter, on the Chiefs’ third drive of the game. In signature fashion, he turned a short pass from Mahomes into a big gain, picking up 19 yards to get the Chiefs to Cincinnati’s 38-yard line.
Around the NFL
This one will sting a little more for the 49ers. After getting nearly every break to go their way on their path to the NFC Championship Game, the 49ers finally ran out of luck in the final quarter. Jaquiski Tartt had a chance to bury the Rams in the fourth quarter when a Stafford YOLO ball descended toward him, but he dropped a sure interception, giving Los Angeles a second chance. The Rams capitalized, going 63 yards in nine plays and ending the drive with a game-tying 40-yard field goal converted by Matt Gay. San Francisco’s response was an abysmal possession, handing the ball back to Los Angeles after just 23 seconds of game time and leaving the Rams with enough time to march down the field to get in range for the go-ahead field goal. And finally, a desperate attempt to get rid of the ball resulted in an interception flung by Garoppolo, ending San Francisco’s unexpected run. There was a moment in this game in which the 49ers appeared to be in control, but they simply couldn’t hang on. Their own mistakes opened the door for the Rams, and they burst through it on their way to Super Bowl LVI.
The Las Vegas Raiders hired Patriots director of player personnel Dave Ziegler as their general manager on Sunday and are expected to hire New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as their new head coach, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, in a package deal.
The Raiders and McDaniels are still finalizing a contract, the sources said.
The 44-year-old Ziegler replaces Mike Mayock, who was fired earlier this month. He interviewed with the Raiders earlier in January.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Patrick Mahomes: We might as well start here, because for all he did to bring them to this game — and for as brilliant as he was in the first half — Mahomes was the main reason his team lost in the second half. He turned the ball over twice — and nearly lost a fumble that would have made it three turnovers in one half. He took sacks he shouldn’t and hesitated when he normally wouldn’t. But the fact he didn’t come through in the clutch is the most jarring part of this loss. Mahomes had a chance to win this game at the end of regulation and on the first drive of overtime, and the result was — well, you know the result. The greatest player on Earth isn’t less of a stud because of this loss — but it’s now fair to say he’s inconsistent. His highs are indeed magical — but his lows are uncomfortable, shaky and result in turnovers. Perhaps he is more Brett Favre than Tom Brady?
Chris Jones and Frank Clark: In the Divisional round against the Titans, Burrow was sacked nine times. The Chiefs (that is, Ingram) got to him just once. Jones had him all but sacked at least once — but then let him slip away for a first down. Clark had even less to show for his efforts on the day. When this team needed big defensive plays, #SackNation was unable to deliver. These two players make too much money to get blanked on the biggest stages.
A tweet to make you think
No Twitter beef big dog just hit my line https://t.co/OxGkxTpwh3— Ty Hill (@cheetah) January 30, 2022