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Bengals score first road playoff win ever in 19-16 win vs. Titans, advance to AFC Championship

It’s only fitting that McPherson won the game on a 50+ yard kick.

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Tennessee Titans Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals have advanced to the AFC Championship game for the first time since 1988.

After defeating the Raiders in the Wild Card round, the Bengals defeated the Tennessee Titans 19-16 in this week’s Divisional Round. It’s the first road playoff win the Bengals have ever had, as they entered this week 0-7 in such games.

Stopping Derrick Henry was key for the Bengals, and they kept him to only 62 yards in his return. The Bengals also took advantage of some poor play from Ryan Tannehill with three interceptions.

The Bengals have emphasized winning the turnover battle, and did with three defensive picks to only one on offense.

Joe Burrow had to win absorbing nine sacks, becoming the first quarterback to win a playoff game with nine sacks, while the Titans broke the record for sacks in a playoff game.

The Bengals deferred the kickoff, and Jessie Bates intercepted Tannehill on the first play from scrimmage. This led to a 38-yard attempt from Evan McPherson, and the kick was good. The Bengals took a quick lead with 12:03 left in the first quarter, up 3-0 on the home team.

The two teams traded punts for a while, but Ja’Marr Chase flipped the field with a 57-yard catch-and-run. The Bengals translated it into another field goal from McPherson. This was a 45-yard kick, and the Bengals had a 6-0 lead with 2:15 to go in the quarter.

The Titans put together their first good drive of the game and marched all the way down to the red zone. Derrick Henry took a direct snap and found a gap in the line for the 3-yard score. They went for two points following a 12-men on the field penalty by Cincinnati, but Henry fell short of the line. Despite the touchdown, the Titans only tied the game at six points apiece with 6:07 remaining in the second quarter.

The Bengals followed it up with their best drive of the game. The Bengals got into the red zone for the first time. Most of that field position was for nothing, though, as Burrow took a 12-yard sack on third-and-nine. This led McPherson to a 54-yard attempt, and he kicked it right down the middle with plenty of room to spare. With 95 seconds left until halftime, the Bengals led 9-6.

The Bengals’ defense did a great job of keeping Henry under control. The Titans’ running back had only 30 yards on ten carries.

But the Bengals didn’t have much success on offense, thanks to their offensive line. The Bengals got no touchdowns, mostly due to the pressure the Bengals gave up. Burrow was sacked five times, and the run game only produced seven yards. This was partly due to offensive linemen getting beat, but also due to some strange formations the Titans used.

The Bengals got the ball to start the second half and went right back to the red zone. The Bengals got their first touchdown of the game after Joe Mixon cut to the left and had nothing but 16 yards of grass in between him and the end zone. McPherson made the extra point, and the Bengals had a 16-6 lead with 9:34 to go in the third quarter.

Later on in the quarter, Chidobe Awuzie tripped and left A.J. Brown wide open. This set up the Titans in good field position, but the Bengals’ defense kept them out of the end zone. This led to a Randy Bullock field goal with 1:36 left in the third quarter, and the Bengals kept a 16-9 lead.

Burrow threw his first interception of the postseason on a ball that went off of Samaje Perine’s hands. The Titans took advantage of the possession, and Tannehill threw a perfect ball to Brown that beat Awuzie’s near-perfect coverage. Bullock made the extra point, and suddenly it was a tie game, 16-16 with 15 seconds on the clock until the third quarter expired.

With the clock ticking, the Tannehill tried to go down the field, but Eli Apple tipped a pass and Logan Wilson hauled in the pick. With 20 seconds left in the game, the Bengals only needed 20 yards to get into field goal range.

Evan McPherson made the 53-yarder, and the Bengals won the game 19-16.

The Bengals will either go to Kansas City or Buffalo, depending on the outcome of that Divisional game tomorrow.