Bengals Rally Past Chiefs 34-31, Clinch AFC North Title
By MITCH STACY, AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI (AP) — Evan McPherson kicked a 20-yard field goal as time ran out, and the Cincinnati Bengals earned their first AFC North title and postseason appearance in six years with a wild 34-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Ja’Marr Chase set an NFL rookie record and Bengals franchise record with 266 yards receiving and three touchdowns on 11 catches, Joe Burrow threw for 466 yards and four scores while outdueling Patrick Mahomes, and the Bengals rallied from three 14-point deficits against the AFC West champs.
Kansas City (11-5) had its eight-game winning streak snapped and fell out of the top seed in the AFC, ceding that spot to Tennessee.
The Bengals’ winning drive was filled with drama.
On fourth-and-inches with under a minute left, the Bengals (10-6) decided to go for a touchdown instead of calling on McPherson for a field goal and giving the Chiefs the ball back with a chance to win.
Burrow threw incomplete in the end zone, but Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed was flagged for illegal use of hands, giving the Bengals a fresh set of downs. With Burrow limping on the sideline, backup quarterback Brandon Allen was called on to kneel twice before McPherson came on for the game-winner.
Burrow was outstanding again, completing 30 of 39 attempts in a bruising game. He was sacked four times and hit at least six more times but was as accurate as ever, and Chase caught everything that was thrown near him.
In addition to breaking Jerry Butler’s NFL rookie record of 255 yards for Buffalo against the New York Jets on Sept. 23, 1979, Chase set a record for receiving yards in a season by a rookie. He has 1,429 yards with one game left in the league’s first 17-game season, surpassing Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson, who had 1,400 yards in 2020.
Mahomes looked as if he had the game under control early. He threw two first-quarter touchdown passes to give the Chiefs the early lead, but he didn’t get another one.
The Chiefs (11-5) led 14-0, 21-7 and 28-14 in the first half. They were ahead 28-17 at halftime before the Bengals began the latest of several second-half surges this season.
A 69-yard TD pass from Burrow to Chase early in the second half cut the Chiefs’ lead to 28-24. Kansas City responded with Harrison Butker’s 34-yard field goal.
Burrow then hit Tyler Boyd for a 5-yard TD, capping an 86-yard drive that was twice extended by flags on Sneed, including an unnecessary roughness penalty that gave Cincinnati first-and-goal at the Kansas City 7.
Mahomes was 26 for 35 for 259 yards and threw touchdown passes to Demarcus Robinson and tight end Travis Kelce, who caught a pass in his 125th straight game.
Kansas City’s Darrel Williams hastened for 88 yards and scored twice.
Chiefs: RT Lucas Niang suffered a knee injury in the first quarter and did not return.
Bengals: LG Quinton Spain suffered a right ankle injury in the second quarter and didn’t return.
Chiefs: At Denver in the regular-season finale next Sunday.
Bengals: Finish next Sunday at Cleveland.
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