CINCINNATI – Joe Burrow and the Bengals no longer had another favorable ending in the bank – the hallmark of a talented team with a top quarterback, with a flair for finding creative ways to win games.
Cincinnati was extremely confident after 10 straight wins en route to the AFC Championship Game at Kansas City.
The Bengals beat the Chiefs three times in the past 13 months, including in the AFC title game last year.
But too many mistakes sank the Bengals in a 23-20 loss on Sunday night.
“In football it’s win or lose,” Bengals center Ted Karras said. We are on the side of misery (this time). »
Cincinnati’s disparate offensive line struggled to protect Burrow, who suffered five sacks. Defense didn’t hurt Chiefs quarterback enough Patrick Mahomeseven though he was playing with a sprained right ankle.
Mahomes led the Chiefs into winning position in the dying seconds.
The key push was aided by a poor punt from Drue Chrisman. Skyy Moore charged down the middle of the field, driving the ball 29 yards to the Kansas City 47-line.
Three plays later, on third down and four, Mahomes kept the ball and earned a first down. Joseph Ossai, however, hit him out of bounds, taking a 15-yard penalty.
So KC had the ball at the Cincinnati 27 line, with eight seconds left.
Harrison Butker then made a field goal winner from 45 yards.
There was no last-minute heroics for Burrow this time around. Cincinnati had the ball with 2:30 remaining and the score tied, but the Bengals’ run ended in a sack that forced Chrisman’s punt.
“It was as if the wind was turning in our direction. We felt like we were going to find a way to win the game,” mentioned Burrow.
“What a fantastic opportunity we had,” Karras said. I am very grateful to have experienced it. Sadly it’s over, but we can’t forget all the effort, hard work and all the good we’ve done. It will hurt for a while. The two weeks before the Super Bowl will be a little sad but after that, the mentality will be, we are preparing for 2023.
The defending champions AFC lost their first two games and were 4-4 after eight games, including a 32-13 loss at Cleveland.
A 42-21 win over Carolina the following week kicked off the 10-game winning streak. Cincinnati cruised to a second straight AFC title, following it up with playoff wins over Baltimore and then Buffalo.
Cincinnati dealt with running back injuries Joe Mixon and to recipients Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins et Tyler Boydas well as defensive linemen Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson.
The Bengals are restructuring their finances in an effort to offer Burrow a rich multi-year contract extension.
Like Burrow, Higgins just completed the third year of a four-year rookie contract and is eligible for an extension.
“I would love to continue playing with Joe,” Higgins said. He’s a great guy and a great quarterback. We have developed a very good friendship, but you know how the league works. I still have another year on my contract, so we’ll see. »