A look inside the last-minute mistakes that cost the Bengals the AFC title vs. the Chiefs
For Cincinnati ae.888
center Ted Karras, the moment that stuck with him after the game was the missed assignment he didn’t block in the final two minutes of the AFC championship game. For punter Drue Chrisman, it was leaving his kick right lao dốc the middle of the field. As special teams captain Michael Thomas sat at his locker, he reflected on how he didn’t make a tackle on Skyy Moore’s 29 – yard punt return for the Kansas City Chiefs .Bengals defensive tackle B.J. Hill was frustrated with how he got his hands on Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes on his final play of the game. And then there was Joseph Ossai, the defensive over who missed his entire rookie season last year due bự injury & developed into one of the best hustle players on the Bengals .
On Sunday, the Chiefs beat the Bengals, 23-20, at Arrowhead Stadium in the AFC championship game bự advance phệ the Super Bowl. Ossai committed an unnecessary roughness penalty with 17 seconds remaining. Ossai finished his diving tackle attempt on Mahomes after the quarterback stepped out of bounds, which handed the Chiefs a first lao dốc .
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Ossai’s 15 – yard penalty put the Chiefs in field goal range, & kicker Harrison Butker snuck a 45 – yard field goal just kết thúc the goal post for a last-second thắng .“ I’ve got lớn learn from experience, ” Ossai said. ” I got béo know not Khủng get close phệ the quarterback when he’s close bự the sideline if there’s anything that could cause a penalty in a dire situation lượt thích that. I got béo vì better. ”The 2022 Bengals were a nhóm on a mission that rolled through the second half of the regular season và into the AFC tiêu đề game as the hottest nhóm in the NFL.The Bengals were facing a quarterback with a sprained ankle, & they had three rookie cornerbacks guarding their star receivers. The Bengals still missed chance after chance in a disappointing finish bự the season .The meltdown started with một : 27 left in the fourth quarter. After 58 minutes where the Bengals couldn’t stop Chiefs All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones and Mahomes was making one explosive play after another, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow had the ball in a tie game .For the Bengals, that should have been enough. Burrow had his chance Khủng lead the most legendary game-winning drive in nhóm history, but the Bengals couldn’t protect him .“ At times, we weren’t at our best, ” Karras said. “ But we battled và had a chance phệ chiến thắng at the kết thúc. We didn’t get it done … We didn’t perform our best when it counted the most. We had a chance lớn chiến thắng at the over và we didn’t. ”The drive started at the Bengals ’ 6 – yard line, & then Burrow found wide receiver Tee Higgins for a first xuống dốc. On 2 nd và 7, Burrow dropped back bự pass. Jones powered up the middle bự cơn bão Burrow, who was trying lớn throw the ball away. He was called for an intentional grounding penalty, setting the Bengals back bự their own 10 – yard line .“ I’ll think about that all offseason, ” Karras said. “ We had the ( linebacker ) play mập the left, so sánh I had bự follow him for a second. I should have gotten there faster. I thought he might be wrapping around, they had been plugging a lot all day. I tried béo make it back. It’s our assignment. I had béo honor it. Would have liked mập make a faster decision và go back béo 95. ”The Bengals got one more first lao dốc on a 23 – yard pass lớn tight kết thúc Hayden Hurst. Then, they faced third và tám from the Bengals ’ 35 – yard line. Jones rushed right around Bengals right tackle Hakeem Adeniji, one of three backup offensive linemen in the game .Burrow took his fifth sack of the game. Even though the Bengals were trying bự give Burrow a shot bự get rid of the ball quickly, the Chiefs recorded 12 quarterback hits .“ Chris Jones is one of the best defensive linemen in the league, & he played lượt thích it, ” Bengals left guard Cordell Volson said. “ We’ve got béo be better. ”The Bengals had béo punt with 41 seconds left in regulation. Chrisman kicked the ball xuống dốc the middle, expecting a gust of wind mập carry it bự the sideline. But the punt stayed straight. Moore fielded it at the đôi mươi – yard line & had four teammates paving a lane for him. He raced béo the Chiefs ’ 47 – yard line, setting up a short field with one of his best returns for the season .“ If it’s five yards further back, who knows if that field goal goes in ? ” Chrisman said. “ I would have loved mập get more ( yards ) on that punt. Ideally, you’d love that punt out of bounds. I was hoping the wind would push it more left. It stayed in the middle of the field, which is not the ideal scenario in that situation. ”Thomas also took ownership on the play, saying the Bengals ’ special teamers shouldn’t have given Moore that lane .“ As a punt unit, we have phệ be able mập not give up a big return in that situation, ” Thomas said. “ That starts as a captain và a ( personal protector on the punt unit ), that starts with me. You’ve got phệ alert guys a little better. You’ve got béo find a way mập get out myself và go stop it. ”On first lao dốc, the Chiefs ran the ball. The clock ticked lao dốc bự 21 seconds. On second lao dốc, Mahomes threw an incompletion. Then on third lao dốc, as Mahomes dropped back in coverage, he had nowhere Khủng throw the ball .In the second half, the Bengals ’ defense got stops on four of the Chiefs ’ first five drives. Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo was mixing up coverages mập confuse Mahomes, & the Bengals executed the game kế hoạch perfectly. Mahomes was playing with a sprained ankle, & the Bengals forced him Khủng wait in the pocket & make quick decisions into tight windows .
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Except this giây phút, on tam rd và bốn from the Bengals ’ 47 – yard line with 17 seconds left, Mahomes took off. He was hobbling on the field for most of the fourth quarter, but he found a way phệ rush for a 5 – yard gain. He got the first xuống dốc, but the Chiefs would have been well out of field goal range without the late cơn bão from Ossai .Earlier this season, Anarumo had Ossai stand up in the nhóm meeting room. Anarumo had the entire nhóm applaud Ossai for his mindset. In October, Anarumo said of Ossai, “ ( He doesn’t ) want Khủng let ( his ) teammates xuống dốc. ”As he spoke phệ the truyền thông after the game, Bengals defensive tackle BJ Hill – who just missed a sack of Mahomes on the third xuống dốc play – stood right next béo him và supported the rookie .Hill said, “ He played his butt off the whole game. ”The veterans on the Bengals defense took the same stance in supporting the second-year defensive kết thúc .“ He’s playing his heart out, ” Bengals defensive over Sam Hubbard said. “ I’m proud of him. The whole nhóm has his back. He’s playing with a lot of effort. He’ll learn from it và grow from it. ”“ That’s what ( Ossai ) does, ” safety Jessie Bates said. “ He runs bự the ball. ”“ He’s fighting on the ground all game, ” safety Vonn Bell said. “ That’s what you preach for. He’s fighting. You can’t blame it on one person. I want him mập keep going, build on this và remember the feeling. I told him there have been tough losses before và phệ fuel it. ”Butker then made the 45 – yard kick, ending one of the most special seasons in Bengals history .Ever since the Bengals lost the Super Bowl last season, Burrow described a “ fuel ” that’s been in the locker room all season. Bengals head coach Zac Taylor had không bao giờ seen such a close, focused nhóm. Every training camp practice, Friday walkthrough và regular season game was a step in a season that was all about winning the Super Bowl when the Bengals returned lớn it .Only the Bengals won’t get that chance. Even though the Bengals were a more talented đội than they were last year, even though the Chiefs ‘ best two players were playing through injuries & even though the Bengals were playing some of their best football in franchise history, their season ended earlier than it was supposed Khủng .“ Our goal is phệ thắng the Super Bowl, ” Taylor said. “ To be seconds away from getting back there và watching them celebrate is horrible because this đội has invested so sánh much Khủng get back lớn this point. ”The Chiefs delivered one of the most painful losses in Bengals ’ history. Burrow said he plans lớn be in Cincinnati for the long run, but you không bao giờ know how many times you’ll get this clear of a shot at the Super Bowl .This was supposed béo be the year for the Bengals. Burrow could be playing his last year on a rookie contract. Jessie Bates III, Vonn Bell, Germaine Pratt và Hayden Hurst are among the key Bengals ’ players in contract years. The Bengals will soon need mập make tough decisions about players lượt thích Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Joe Mixon & Logan Wilson .This was the year when the Bengals brought nearly every key piece back from a Super Bowl team. This was the year where they had cap space béo fix their biggest flaws in không lấy phí agency. Burrow was playing as well as any quarterback in the NFL, & the Bengals entered the playoffs on an eight-game winning streak. Then, they outpowered a division rival và blew out a Buffalo Bills nhóm that started the season as the Super Bowl favorite .None of that matters now .“ Every loss, you learn from, ” said Burrow, who completed 26 of his 41 passing attempts for 270 yards. “ Just lượt thích every chiến hạ. We’ll watch the film, make our corrections & get better. ”This year’s Bengals were a much better đội than the one that upset the Chiefs last season và advanced béo the Super Bowl. The defense was more experienced. The run game was more efficient. Burrow learned how lớn avoid sacks và maintain a consistent offense no matter what the defense threw at him .After the Bengals lost the Super Bowl last year, Burrow reflected on a lesson that he learned from former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner. While watching a documentary on the Hall of Famer, Burrow realized that you can still celebrate a good run even if you don’t chiến hạ it all in the over .This year’s Bengals phối a standard that the franchise had chưa bao giờ seen before. Now, losing an AFC title game béo the No. một seed feels lượt thích a disappointment, và that’s the flip side of the incredible expectations that Burrow makes possible. Burrow và this phiên bản of the Bengals have changed what football means lớn the thành phố of Cincinnati, but now there’s more urgency than ever phệ finally chiến hạ it all .“ I was here when it was all the way xuống dốc bự the dirt, ” Bates said. “ Nobody believed in us. Being able mập be a part of something special lượt thích that, you can’t ask for anything better. I gave it my all. And I know my teammates gave me their all. It’s the love I have in this locker room that makes this so sánh hard. ”The 2022 Bengals survived three injuries bự the offensive line, played without star cornerback Chidobe Awuzie for half of the season & overcame an 0-2 start lớn the season. They earned a spot on the big stage against the Chiefs, but then, for the second straight year, they suffered a devastating loss in the playoffs in the final seconds .In the locker room, it took a while for most of the players bự get up & change out of their jerseys. Taylor went around the entire locker room và told every player he loved them .When he left the locker room for the first giây phút, he was greeted by the sound of a “ Chiefs ” cheer coming from the Lamar Hunt Trophy celebration .“ The expectation is always phệ be in this game with an opportunity Khủng chiến thắng it, ” Burrow said. “ Obviously, this one hurts. We’ll come back stronger. ”
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