Instant analysis after Bengals lose to Chiefs in AFC title game

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.


Quick Hits

— 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.


Key Stat

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.


Game Balls

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.


Top Takeaway

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.


Reactions after controversial 'shut down' play by referees in AFC title game

Story originally appeared on Bengals Wire