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Eli Apple: Bengals had a tell for what Chiefs’ offense was doing in AFC Championship

Apple and Cincinnati got the last laugh in Kansas City.

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

One of the biggest plays in the AFC Championship game featured Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple stopping Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill at the goal-line as the first half ended.

But now we’re wondering, did Apple and the Bengals see that play coming?

In an interview with Tyler Dunne, Apple said Cincinnati had a tell for when Kansas City was going to run certain plays, which helped limit Patrick Mahomes and Co. to just three second-half points.

“They got cocky. They wanted to pass. They wanted Mahomes to have the ball in his hands to get rid of us. We knew the concepts that were coming at us. Before the snap, we had a tell of what they were going to do, and then it was about beating their guys to that spot and competing for the ball. And our D-Line played really great in making sure he wasn’t comfortable in the pocket when he was trying to scramble and stuff. They’re one of those teams that knows what they want to do. Especially when they’re in dropback mode. There’s only so many things they can do with different sets. It’s just about their athletes being fast and our athletes being fast, too. Who can keep up with who?”

The Bengals’ defense played lights out in the final two quarters in Kansas City, and they’re not in the Super Bowl without that performance. Apple and the entire secondary managed to stick with Tyreek Hill and the Chiefs’ explosive passing offense so well, it really did seem like they were playing a step ahead of them.

It should be noted that the Bengals played and defeated the Chiefs four weeks before doing so in the playoffs, so perhaps their recent history helped them make quick adjustments and pick up on what they were trying to do.

That said, keeping Mahomes’ offense out of the end zone when it mattered is incredibly impressive, so if Apple says they found a tell, we’re inclined to believe him.