Nashville, Tennessee (November 7) The Cincinnati Bengals last week broke their 31-year playoff drought, and with a younger, explosive offense, they appeared like this year’s dark horse contenders.

And now they formally are. The No. 4-seeded Bengals overcame 9 sacks and 6 penalties to shock the top-seeded Tennessee Titans, 19-16, when rookie kicker Evan McPherson kicked his fourth and final field goal of the season Saturday, a 52-yarder that broke up the uprights as time expired.

The Bengals, who had three interceptions of their very own, will face the winner of the Chiefs-Payments recreation on Sunday, and can travel to either Kansas Metropolis or Buffalo.

“We don’t know what we don’t know,” quarterback Joe Burrow stated of the group’s youthfulness, an acknowledgment that he can have much less expertise regardless of who his group faces in the A.F.C. championship recreation the following week, whether or not his counterpart is Patrick Mahomes, 26, of Kansas Metropolis, or Josh Allen, 25, of Buffalo. Burrow, 25, is in simply his second N.F.L. season, an expertise hole that separates him from his friends.

Tomorrow morning is perhaps a unique story, but right now, I really feel nice,” Burrow stated.

Regardless of the various hits, Burrow threw for 348 yards on 28 of 37 passes, with one interception. His counterpart on Saturday, Ryan Tannehill, suffered only one sack, but was doomed by three interceptions.

Statistically, the sport made no sense. Burrow was fabulous when he had time to identify his fleet-footed receivers, finishing with 28 of 37 passes for 348 yards. The Titans blanketed Ja’Marr Chase, who nonetheless managed to haul in five passes for 109 yards. Receiver Tee Higgins and tight end C.J. Uzomah each had seven receptions.

Burrow, however, was sacked repeatedly because the Titans’ protection ran in, round, and thru the Bengals’ porous offensive line. Tennessee defensive end Jeffery Simmons led the charge with three sacks of Burrow.

Burrow stated that “that one was actually, actually exhausting,” of the strain he faced all thru the sport.

Credit score:.. Christopher Hanewinckel/USA At this time, sports activities, by way of Reuters

The Titans grew to become the fifth team to notch 9 sacks in playoff recreation, becoming members of Kansas Metropolis (1994), the Browns (1987), the 49ers (1985) and Payments (1967).

It was the Bengals’ protection, however, that finally saved the day, intercepting Tannehill on the Titans’ first and final plays of the game, and as soon as in between. The ultimate decision was most essential because it came with just 20 seconds remaining.

On a drive that started with 2:43 left in the recreation, Tannehill slowly marched the Titans down the sphere, making an attempt to get the group in the proper place. Then, on the fifth play of the sequence, on third-and-5 from the Titans’ 40-yard line, Tannehill’s cross was tipped by cornerback Eli Apple and hauled in by linebacker Logan Wilson.

Burrow, who had a breakout season throwing for more than 4,600 yards, bought one other likelihood so as to add to his résumé by stealing a second playoff win. From the Bengals’ 47-yard line, Burrow rapidly hit Chase to maneuver the ball to the Titans’ 35 and into first-rate subject purpose place.

The Bengals drained just a few extra seconds off the clock before McPherson linked on the game-winner.

Had Cincinnati’s offensive line been extra profitable, the Bengals could have won the game simply because they held the ball for about seven minutes longer than the Titans over the course of the nite, regardless of the return of Tennessee’s stellar operating back, Derrick Henry, from an absence of more than two months.

Certainly, the sport got off to an auspicious start for the Bengals. On the primary play from scrimmage, Cincinnati security Jessie Bates intercepted Tannehill. With a nice topic in place, the Bengals were regarded as poised to strike. However, in a sample that outlined the sport, Burrow was sacked on the primary play from scrimmage. A delay-of-game penalty stalled the promising drive, and the Bengals settled for a subject purpose, not a landing.

Cincinnati kicked three of them within the first half, and went into the locker room with a 9-6 score.

The Titans, in the meantime, were regarded as rusty after a bye week. Tannehill missed receivers, was sacked, rushed throws, and Henry — who completed with 62 yards on 20 carries — didn’t appear to assist much.

The Titans engineered a strong drive halfway thru the second quarter. Tannehill linked up with his two greatest receivers, A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. On first-and-goal, Henry lined up within the wildcat, took the snap and scored, to the delight of the house crowd that had been calling for his title.

Henry and the Titans failed to attain on a 2-point try, nonetheless. Ultimately, these 2 further factors wouldn’t have mattered as a result of the Bengals’ closing subject purpose being simply sufficient.