The Cincinnati Bengals started slow against the Kansas City Chiefs during Sunday’s AFC title game and couldn’t overcome it despite some serious fight, losing 23-20 in the final seconds.
Joe Burrow and the Bengals stuttered through the first half and were fortunate not to sit in a bigger hole before making adjustments. But the hobbled offensive line and a struggling defense couldn’t come together often enough to get the win.
Here’s a look at some quick notes and numbers to know from the game.
— Rough first drive for the Bengals. Joe Burrow found Ja’Marr Chase a few times but things got derailed when Hakeem Adeniji committed a false start, wiping out a first-down run. The good news? The Chiefs were blitzing, which was what helped Chase torch this defense a few times in prior matchups.
— Defense held Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to a field goal on their first drive, which is always a win against that offense.
— Three sacks of Burrow over the first two drives, including two in a row on an awful second drive. The Chiefs were getting pressure at will, especially blowing by the backup tackles.
— Bengals were outgained 110-0 in the first quarter, yet miraculously only down 6-0 after good holds by the defense on short fields.
— Third offensive drive featured some real positives before ending with a field goal. Burrow created a sack by not reading the defense properly but otherwise appeared to be figuring things out and heating up.
— Bengals coughed up a touchdown on a fourth down as Mahomes rolled in a moving pocket and found Travis Kelce. Jessie Bates was alone on him and just got out-sized.
— Burrow’s interception had the right idea, targeting Tee Higgins in solo coverage, but was questionably thrown. Defense, at least, forced a quick three-and-out.
— Burrow drove all the way down the field before halftime in a drive resulting in a field goal. Not the ideal outcome, but the momentum appeared to be there.
— The momentum shift was real. Defense forced an instant three-and-out after halftime, then Burrow hit Tee Higgins for a “Mossed” touchdown to tie things up.
— Defense coughed up a touchdown on the next drive, a nearly-broken-up play by Mike Hilton.
— A stunning turn near the early fourth quarter. Mahomes fumbled, Sam Hubbard recovered. Fast forward, Ja’Marr Chase made one of the best catches of the year on a 4th-and-6 while double-teamed to put the Bengals in the redzone before Samaje Perine finished things off with a 20-20 tying score. Just a stunner by Chase when his team needed it most.
— Chaos in the fourth quarter as officials called a third-down stop a “shut down” play.
— Joe Burrow got the ball back with 2:30 left in a tie game and ended up needing to punt.
— All-time boneheaded penalty by Joseph Ossai to hit Mahomes out of bounds and put the Chiefs in range for the game-winning field goal.
5: Number of sacks suffered by Burrow, plus tack on the huge number of pressures and thrown-away passes because the line just got clobbered all night.
WR Tee Higgins: The big-play wideout came up huge multiple times on key drives, including that big highlight touchdown and finished with six catches for 83 yards and the score.
WR Ja’Marr Chase: How about that jaw-dropping 4th-and-6 catch while double-teamed? Chase wasn’t going wild all game while Burrow struggled due to the offensive line, but when his team needed the big play, he came through.
CB Cam Taylor-Britt: Perfect day? No, but the rookie once again showed why he’s got a bright future and had a few notables, including a near pick-six.
What a ride: The Bengals couldn’t overcome the slow start and the injured offensive line to take control of this one fully and it cost them late, capped off by a brutal penalty when the defense still had a chance to make the big stop.