NASHVILLE –– By the time Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow made it to the Tennessee Titans’ 23-yard line on the first drive of the third quarter, he should have been exhausted.
Burrow had already been sacked six times, which was already tied for the most sacks he had taken all year. He had already taken 11 hits. He had already tried on the first five drives of the game to carry an offense that couldn’t protect him from getting slammed into the ground.
Then on third-and-5, Burrow didn’t see any receivers open. So he scrambled 7 yards and dove for the first-down line. On the very next play, the Bengals scored their first touchdown of the game.
On Saturday at Nissan Stadium, the Bengals beat the Titans, 19-16, to advance to the AFC championship game. The Bengals will play in their first AFC title game since the 1988 season.
Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton (21) celebrates and interception he made against Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) during the second half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.
It was a miracle finish fitting for a miracle season. With 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson picked off Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill. On the following play, Burrow delivered again under pressure.
In a game where he took a career-high nine sacks, Burrow thrived in the final seconds. With a 19-yard throw to wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, Burrow put the Bengals in field goal range.
Evan McPherson made a 52-yard field goal at the buzzer to win the game, and now the Bengals will get a shot at the AFC title.
On Saturday, the Bengals couldn’t block for Burrow. He didn’t get the chance for a memory-making deep pass to Chase. Burrow was running for his life at times, but the Bengals pulled ahead because of his willingness to take one more hit and put everything on the line.
Following an interception on the opening play by Bengals safety Jessie…