It’s no small feat to win by three scores on the road in the playoffs. It’s anything but easy to do it in a venue where the home team has won 13 of 14 playoff games in its history.
What the Cincinnati Bengals are doing in this 10-game win streak is incredible, and it’s taking high-level performances from all over the roster. One rookie specifically had the game of his life against the Buffalo Bills in last weekend’s Divisional Round, and he’ll be expected to replicate it against the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday.
No. 29 did indeed bring the juice. Six tackles, six targets, three receptions allowed for 20 yards, a pass breakup, and the first interception of his promising career. A storybook day fittingly had a great beginning, middle, and end as three plays stood out for Taylor-Britt.
The Bills’ second pass of the game targeted Stefon Diggs, who caught a quick hitch against Taylor-Britt short of the first down marker. Taylor-Britt hastily closed down on Diggs at the catch point, twisted him mid air, and threw him down on his back for a short gain. Boom. Tone set in the sleet.
Fast forward to the end of the third quarter. Taylor-Britt has seen much of both Diggs and Gabe Davis at this point, and there have been close calls. None were closer than when Taylor-Britt missed a jam on Davis and was immediately stacked on a go route down the left sideline. Josh Allen identified it after surveying the play side of the field and launched the ball to Davis, who had a good two yards of separation over Taylor-Britt.
The pass may’ve been a little under thrown, but Davis still had a chance to catch it cleanly. Taylor-Britt was so hellbent on catching up to him that he had no time to find the ball. So he did the next best thing—use the receiver’s timing against him. As soon as Davis reached his hands out for the pass, Taylor-Britt swiped his right arm down on his gloves as the ball arrived, turning a potential explosive play into an incompletion.
What was already the most impressive play of Taylor-Britt’s rookie season would soon be overshadowed by what he’ll remember the most from the day. The Bills were hoping for a last ditch comeback in the final minutes of the game. Allen had not committed any (official) turnovers and it seemed like he would escape the day clean in that department. But that wasn’t on his mind as desperation mode was already initiated.
With Taylor-Britt playing soft underneath coverage in a two-high look, Allen put about 40 air yards into a hole shot to Cole Beasley past Taylor-Britt’s zone. But with the rookies’ eyes trained on Allen, he quickly opened his hips and beelined it to the ball. With a diving leap, Taylor-Britt secured career interception No. 1.
Taylor-Britt sealed the game with an emphasis. The Bengals didn’t need to create possessions off of Allen’s mistakes to come out victorious, though many believed that would be a requirement. Their latest turnover created will mean more as a sentimental milestone for a 23-year old player, who’s very much coming into his own at the most crucial of times.
Week 13 was the closest Taylor-Britt got to his first career pick before Sunday when he nearly intercepted Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs couldn’t quite attack the boundaries of the Bengals defense against Talyor-Britt and Eli Apple in coverage. The adjustments they’ll inevitably make will be intriguing to watch unfold.
The interior of the Bills’ defensive line generated just four pressures against the Bengals, and that was early in the afternoon before Volson and Co. started dominating off the line in the run game. That quickly became the story of the day once Buffalo’s inept pass rush was neutralized. Volson and the fellas up front delivered punch after punch to the Bills’ defensive line, rarely ever conceding ground with a wide variety of concepts.
It’s been said numerous times now that Volson is no longer a rookie. He’s played more snaps than anyone in the entire offense, and the postseason brings all new challenges. No matter how you classify his experience, he is the only Week 1 o-line starter that is not currently injured now that Ted Karras figures to play through a knee injury he suffered against the Bills. Here’s hoping that stays the case.
You never know when Hill is coming onto the field for his handful of snaps per game. Sometimes it’s for a third down pressure, sometimes it’s manning up in the red zone, like he did against Dawson Knox in the third quarter.
You can’t defend the corner route much better than that.
Hill was slated to be the replacement for Tre Flowers in this game for one-on-one situations against Knox, but with the Bengals staying in nickel and operating in zone coverage for about 80% of the day, Hill never really had many chances to take on the talented tight end. all that matters is he won the single battle in front of him.
Defending Travis Kelce this week will be difficult no matter who’s in quarterback or how mobile the quarterback is. Kelce does a great job of finding vacancies over the middle, and using upper body fakes to create separation against off coverage. It won’t be just Hill or Flowers covering him solo for 40 routes.
Cincinnati’s dedication to nickel personnel packages also limited opportunities for Carter, who got in for 16 snaps and gave breaks to B.J. Hill on passing downs. A similar role might be in store for him against Kansas City as he played just 14 snaps against the Chiefs back in December.