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Bengals erase 18-point deficit to beat Chiefs in AFC Championship, advance to Super Bowl

The Bengals made another improbable comeback to go punch their ticket to the Super Bowl.

NFL: AFC Championship-Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs had another back-and-forth game, with the Bengals wining the second round 27-24 in overtime.

The Chiefs scored on their first three drives of the game, but then failed to score again until time expired in regulation. Tyreek Hill had 74 yards and a touchdown in the first half, but zero in the second half and overtime.

The Bengals, on the other hand, took over after the half. Ja’Marr Chase had only eight yards in the first half, but had 46 and a touchdown in the second half of regulation.

Joe Burrow completed 23 of 38 for 250 yards and two touchdowns. He only took one sack after taking nine in the Divisional Round last week.

Patrick Mahomes got the ball last, but only got a field goal to force overtime.

The Bengals got the ball first, but went three-and-out. The Chiefs got the ball back quickly and drove down the field. After ten plays and gaining 74 yards, Mahomes fired a laser to the corner of the end zone to Tyreek Hill for a 10-yard score. With 7:17 to go in the first quarter, the Chiefs had a 7-0 lead after the extra point.

On the first defensive drive for the Bengals, the defense kept the deep plays covered, which opened up the short routes and check downs for the Chiefs. While they didn’t give up any plays longer than 15 yards, they gave up six first downs and a score.

On the Bengals’ second position, they had just as a methodical drive as the Chiefs did. The Bengals had to convert three third downs on the 14-play drive. But their fourth third down attempt to Chase was covered up, so the Bengals had to settle for three. The Evan McPherson kick was good from 32 yards with 36 seconds to play in the quarter, and the Bengals still trailed 7-3.

With that kick, McPherson became the first rookie kicker in NFL history to make nine field goals in the postseason.

While the Bengals kept the deep balls covered up in the first possession, the Chiefs started the next drive with a 44-yard pass to Mecole Hardman. The Chiefs got all the way to the five-yard line, where Mahomes scrambled around and found Travis Kelce in the end zone. With the extra point, the Chiefs had a 14-3 lead with 12:14 remaining in the second quarter.

The Chiefs picked up where they left off, this time getting Clyde Edwards-Helaire involved. Burrow and Chase’s LSU teammate had four rushes for 28 yards on the next drive for the Chiefs. The Chiefs once again made it to the red zone, where Mahomes connected with Hardman for a short touchdown with 5:04 to go in the second quarter. With the extra point, the Chiefs had a 21-3 lead, which was more than any lead they had in the Week 17 regular season matchup.

This was also the first time the Bengals had given up more than 20 points in a postseason game. The Bengals also spent more time trailing than they had in both previous postseason games combined.

The Bengals were on the ropes, so Burrow connected with Tee Higgins for 26 yards on his first two completions of the next drives. The next completed pass was a screen from Samaje Perine, which went for 41 yards to the house. The Bengals had their first touchdown of the game, and not a moment too soon, with 65 seconds until the half. The extra point was good, and the Bengals only trailed by 11 points, down 21-10.

The Chiefs had 65 seconds left, but have proven they only need a fraction of that time. In three plays, they already got down to the Bengals’ 30-yard line. A penalty got the Cheifs to the goal line, and Mahomes threw a screen to Hill as time expired. Eli Apple stopped him short of the goal line, so the Bengals had their first stop to keep the halftime score at 21-10.

That goal line stop was the first time this postseason the Chiefs haven’t scored on a red zone possession.

Just like in the first matchup, it was all Chiefs in the first half. The Chiefs had fewer points, but also had fewer possessions. The Chiefs scored on their first three possessions, and still made it all the way to the goal line on their fourth.

Unlike in the regular season game between these two, when no Chiefs receivers had more than 53 yards, Hill and Kelce already surpassed that number in the first half.

Meanwhile, Chase only had two catches for eight yards. Burrow had 101 passing yards, 41 of which came off of the screen to Perine.

At any rate, the Bengals were down by 11 points at halftime, which is the same number they trailed by in Week 17 when they came from behind to win.

The Bengals forced the Chiefs to finally punt in the next half, and the Bengals’ offense got to the red zone for the second time. Melvin Ingram sacked Burrow on first-and-goal, then knocked down a screen on second-and-goal to stop the Bengals’ offense in their tracks. McPherson made the 31-yard field goal with 2:58 remaining in the third quarter, and the Bengals still trailed 21-13.

That was McPherson’s tenth field goal this postseason, which broke Jim Breech’s franchise record for most in a single postseason in franchise history.

B.J. Hill came up clutch by knocking down a screen and hauling in the interception. The Bengals’ offense took over at the Chiefs’ 27-yard line.

With a second opportunity, the Bengals needed a touchdown. The Bengals got to the two-yard line, where Burrow threw up a fade to Chase for the short touchdown. The Bengals went for two, and Burrow found Trent Taylor for the score. Suddenly, the game was tied at 21 apiece with 14 seconds left remaining in the third quarter.

Burrow had two scrambles for first downs as the halfway mark of the fourth quarter approached. Higgins had a gain of 16 to get into McPherson’s range. The 52-yard kick snuck inside the left upright, and the Bengals had a lead for the first time in the game. Up 24-21, the Bengals defense needed to stop Mahomes again with 6:04 left in the game.

The Chiefs got got more first downs in the next drive than they had in the entire second half up to that point. Trying to milk the clock, they got the ball to the red zone by the two-minute warning. From the nine-yard line on third-and-goal, the Bengals got a coverage sack to force the Chiefs to settle for a 44-yard field goal with three second left. Harrison Butker nailed it, and the Chiefs tied the game to send it to over time.

The Chiefs won the coin toss, and Vonn Bell got the interception to give the Bengals great field position and a chance to win it.

Higgins had two catches for nearly 20 yards to get the Bengals right inside McPherson’s range. From there, Mixon got the ball inside the 15-yard line to all but seal the game. McPherson attempted the 31-yarder, and it was good.

The Bengals won it 27-24 off of another McPherson field goal.

The Bengals became the second team in NFL history to overcome an 18-point deficit to win a playoff game.

Now, the Bengals will prepare to head to Los Angeles of Super Bowl LVI to face the winner of the NFC Championship game.