The Cincinnati Bengals did it twice last year. They ended two teams’ Super Bowl dreams on game-winning field goals, leaving them shellshocked from a season-long journey coming to a crashing halt. One of them was the Kansas City Chiefs.
Being on the business end of the moment is simply inevitable when you keep finding yourself in these positions.
But the Bengals leave the 2022 campaign in the past now, looking towards a future they hope is as promising as the 10-game win streak they just accomplished.
So for one last time, let’s go through the Bengals’ snap counts in the AFC Championship game.
How can a game between the Bengals and Chiefs be decided by any number other than three? The final score and team snap differential each favored the home team by three as the Chiefs ran offensive 69 plays to the Bengals’ 66. That means each team called the same number of non-special teams plays before the game’s final drive when the Chiefs used three plays to get inside field goal range. Kansas City also had the advantage in time of possession and turnovers.
Sunday did not start right for the Bengals, and the hole they dug themselves into set forth how the game script would play out. Joe Mixon (23) played 20 fewer snaps than Samaje Perine (43) and the difference can be entirely accounted for on passing downs, and they each had the same number of reps in pass protection.
Perine has become the check down option in the flats when the offense goes pass heavy. This wasn’t the case last week, when Perine and Mixon were on the field for nearly the same of passing plays in a more balanced offensive effort. The opening script’s success or failure will always impact the rest of the game against an elite opponent.
Not open enough
Trenton Irwin (48) has made a strong case for NFL sixth man of the year, constantly coming off the bench when needed and producing quality results as a receiver. Unfortunately, the Chiefs held him in check as he played the majority of the game for an injured Tyler Boyd (15).
Irwin had just one reception for six yards on two targets. Kansas City gave extra attention to Ja’Marr Chase—who played all 66 snaps—and Tee Higgins (63), which gave Irwin plenty of chances in single coverage, but he couldn’t capitalize and create separation.
The Bengals’ plan to defend Travis Kelce wasn’t unique in any way, as Germaine Pratt (57) once again found himself being targeted the most out of the seven defenders who were targeted while covering the tight end. Tre Flowers and Dax Hill played a combined 14 snaps on defense with 13 in coverage, and neither one became a focal point to slowing Kelce down.
In terms of pass rush, B.J. Hill (53) was sent after Patrick Mahomes more than any other Bengals defensive lineman with 41 pass-rushing snaps. In those snaps, he recorded five pressures and a sack on Mahomes that would be negated due to a holding penalty on Eli Apple.
Bengals snap counts vs. Chiefs
|Stanley Morgan Jr.||WR||1||2%|
|Jessie Bates III||S||69||100%|