Bengals 19 Titans 16
Tied at 16 with the Titans facing 3rd and 5 at the Titans 40-yard line with :28 left in the game, Eli Apple tipped and Logan Wilson picked a Ryan Tannehill pass.....Joe Burrow dropped an 19-yard sideline dime to Ja'Marr Chase with :09 left.....and Evan McPherson knocked home a 52-yard walk off FG to stun the Titans and send the Bengals to the AFC Championship game, 19-16.
The Man: Joe Burrow was beaten, battered, mugged and sacked 9 times and hit a total of 13 times. He was sacked on the very first snap and three times in the opening quarter. The pressure had him discombobulated and indecisive, at time. Some of the sacks were on him. He came up limping a couple of times. But he proved once again he's one tough SOB. 28 of 37 for 348 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, QB rating 93.1. He found Chase to set up the game-winner. He threw his first interception in 209 attempts (December 9, Chargers), a ball off the fingertips of Semaje Perine. He took a 4th QT sack that knocked them out of FG range. The 9 sacks tied an NFL postseason record. He's been sacked 66 times this season. His 348 yards are 2nd most in a playoff game in franchise history (Ken Anderson 354).
Burrow > Tannehill: The Titans QB had 9 incompletions, 3 were picks. QB rating 66.7. He was picked on the first snap of the game and intercepted on the Titans final offensive snap of the game. He did make a heck of a 33-yard TD throw.
Money Mac: Rookie Evan McPherson delivered a 52-yarder at the game. That's 8 for 8 on postseason field goals. He has 11 kicks of 50+ yards this season. His 54 yarder with 1:40 left in the half was big. A miss would have left the Titans in business with a chance to end the half with points.
Big D: Huge on 3rd down, slowed the King and made Tannehill throw the ball. Result: 3 interceptions...Logan Wilson set up the game-winning FG by grabbing a tipped pass from Eli Apple. Last week, it was LB Germaine Pratt intercepting Derek Carr to seal the win. That's 5 takeaways in the postseason. DJ Reader was once again a beast with six tackles, two tackles for loss in the 1st QT and was a factor all game. They held Derrick Henry to 3.1 yards per carry (20-62). He was stoned on a 2-point rush attempt (Clay Johnston) and a 4th and 1 (Wilson) at the Bengals 35 with about 7:00 left in the game. D'Onta Foreman broke free for a 45 yard run. Mike Hilton has an incredibly athletic tip/pick and save a TD with the tackle on Foreman's jaunt. Jessie Bates picked off Tannehill on the first snap of the game. Bates has been big two weeks in a row. Apple struggled early, picked up a silly taunting penalty, but came up big on the final defensive play. Zach Kerr, signed during the week, offered 12 snaps and a tackle. How about Lou Anarumo's D? 19 points vs Raiders, 16 points vs Titans.
3rd down: Bengals 7 of 15, Titans 1 of 8. Both teams were 0-3 in the 1st quarter.
Turnstile: The OL was brutal. That's being kind.
C Freakin' J: Uzomah 7 catches on 8 targets for 71 yards, including a long of 32. He came up with a huge 2nd effort on 2nd and 15 that left Burrow with a doable 3rd and 5 scramble on the 3rd QT TD drive. 2 playoff games: 13 catches on 14 targets, 135 yards, TD.
Chasing history: Chase 5-106 to become 1st rookie to record 100 yard games in his first two postseason games, including a breath-taking 57 yard catch and run.
Run game: 7 rushes/7 yards in first half....18-65 (3.6) for the game. Mixon 14-54-3.9, including a 16-yard scamper for TD. 49 of his 54 came in the second half.
YAC game: Big yards after the catch....Chase went 56 after a one yard catch, Mixon rumbled 21 yards on a swing pass, CJ did damage. Four different players had catches of 20+ yards.
Thanks, Mike: No idea what Titans coach Mike Vrabel was doing. He chased 2 points early after a TD and penalty put the ball on the 1.5-yard line. It would haunt. He came out throwing with Tannehill. He was throwing with :30 left, but without urgency.
Return man: Chris Evans averaged 27.3 yards on three KR, with a long of 32. Trent Taylor had 3 fair catches, and never makes me nervous.
Penalties: An un-Bengal like six penalties, including Trey Flowers interference on a punt return and the Apple taunting. But two of the penalties actually benefited the Bengals. 12 men on the field for the PAT led the Titans to go for the failed 2 point attempt. A delay of game wiped out of a sack of Burrow.
Big sequence: The Bengals led 16-6 late in the 3rd QT when the Titans scored 10 points in 90-seconds. Facing 1st and goal at 9, Tannehill's pass was tipped by Hilton and picked. But his 19 yard return was wiped by Apple taunt. The Bengals got nothing out of it, no points and no time off the clock when Tee Higgins had a 3rd down catch knocked loose. The Titans then intercepted Burrow and would scored a game-tying TD.
Need TDs: The Bengals offense had 3 drives inside the 30 that did not result in TDs.
Perfect: Ya know, the Bengals are 2-0 in AFC Championship games in franchise history.
Road trippin: The Bengals had been 0-7 on the road in the postseason. They are 6-3 on the road this season, 6-2 discounting the season wrap-up vs Browns.
Exclusive company: Cincinnati has a Final Four CFB team and a Final Four NFL team. First time a city can claim that.