Two very different teams were defeated by the Cincinnati Bengals in the same way.
On Sunday, the Bengals came from behind again to topple the Chiefs and took their AFC crown away. The deficit at the half matched what went down in Week 17, but the Bengals’ defense maintaining that differential made head coach Zac Taylor and his team think back to another game from their incredible season.
When Eli Apple and Co. stuffed All-Pro receiver Tyreek Hill at the goal-line to keep the game at 21-10, it felt extremely similar to how their Week 4 game against the Jaguars unfolded.
“That happened against Jacksonville,” Taylor told reporters after completing a historic 18-point comeback. “We were down by two scores, they went for it, our defense got a stop going into half-time on the goal-line and prevented a three-score lead. We’ve got that stuff in our memory bank, so when our defense makes that play, and we’re down 11 just like we were four weeks ago against the Chiefs—11 going into half-time—we knew that we were gonna be able to go win that game.”
The moment Taylor referred to featured Larry Ogunjobi and Logan Wilson meeting Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence on fourth-and-goal the one-yard line. Cincinnati got the ball back and eventually jogged into the locker room down by 14 points instead of 21. That play ended up making our top 10 plays that got the Bengals into the playoffs.
Apple’s play is the one that helped get them into the Super Bowl.
Everyone in their right mind believed the Chiefs were going to score some points before the half when Samaje Perine ran into the end zone with 1:05 remaining in the second quarter. The Chiefs, as expected, drove the length of the field with ease and got to the one-yard line with five seconds to go. They weren’t thinking about a field goal, they wanted to bury the Bengals.
Hill was the one who ended up buried.
The play set up a defensive domination for Cincinnati in the second half. Kansas City managed just three points in the final two quarters to send the game into overtime, and despite winning the coin toss, the reigning AFC champs couldn’t score and close the game out.
No, these Bengals haven’t played this deep into the playoffs before, but there isn’t an in-game scenario they haven’t encountered this year. They’ve battled through an encyclopedia’s worth of adversity between the white lines. Those experiences can only help you going forward if you learn and apply them to what comes next.
Paul Brown’s famous saying only becomes more truthful as time goes on. “Winning makes believers of us all.”
Remembering how they got to this point helped the Bengals get one step closer to achieving something Brown never could: Hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.