In Week 17, the Bengals entered the locker room at halftime behind the Chiefs 28-17.
Cincinnati needed to win to clinch the AFC North a year after finishing bottom of the division and posting the fifth-worst record in the NFL. The Bengals rallied, outscoring Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs 17-3 in the second half. The last three came on an exit field goal.
Kansas City won big again in Sunday’s AFC championship game. They were up 21-3 at one point in the first half and took a 21-10 lead in the second half. But again, the Chiefs were limited to just three points, a last-second game-tying field goal to send the game into overtime, after the Bengals scored 14 points to take the lead.
The Bengals didn’t stop there. They intercepted Mahomes in overtime and drove downfield to set up the game-winning field goal that sent the Bengals to Super Bowl 56 with a 27-24 win over the two-time reigning conference champions.
MORE: When was the last time the Bengals went to a Super Bowl?
“I don’t know if you ever want to go down 21-3. I said earlier in the year when we started making some of these comebacks, never feel like we’re out of it, but obviously 21-3 isn’t.” exactly the most exciting position to be in,” Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said after the game.
The Bengals have been comeback kings all season, but Sunday’s performance ranks among the best in NFL postseason history. Sporting News breaks down how the Bengals did it.
How the Bengals rallied from an 18-point deficit in the AFC Championship Game
At one point, the Bengals were 18 behind the Chiefs in the hostile confines of Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs scored touchdowns on each of their first three drives, with Mahomes throwing touchdown passes to Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Mecole Hardman. The last score put Kansas City up 21-3 with 5:04 remaining in the first half.
The initial spark for the Bengals’ comeback came with just over a minute left in the second half. Burrow found Samaje Perine on a short screen pass that the backup running back took 41 yards down the right side for the team’s first touchdown.
The Chiefs came back down the field and seemed about to score a touchdown to push their lead back to 18, but cornerback Eli Apple brought Hill down at the Cincinnati 1-yard line and prevented him from reaching the end zone or getting out of the box. scoring line. limits. The clock reached zero on the play.
“When our defense makes that play, and we’re down 11, just like we were four or five weeks ago against the Chiefs, 11 before halftime, we knew we were going to win that game,” the coach said. Zack Taylor said.
MORE: Mahomes, Reid explain what went wrong in scoreless possession before halftime
The second half began with three consecutive punts and then a Cincinnati field goal to bring the game to a score. Mahomes recovered the ball with his team leading 21-13, but threw a deflected interception to defensive tackle BJ Hill that turned the ball back to the Bengals with 2:23 remaining in the third quarter.
Cincinnati responded in no time, with Burrow finding Ja’Marr Chase for a 17-yard gain to set up a touchdown pass for the LSU connection three plays later. That made it a 21-19 game. Burrow then hit Trent Taylor on an exit route for the 2-point conversion to tie it up.
The Bengals forced a 3-pointer and off the Chiefs, but returned the ball on an interception. The defense again forced another punt and the offense responded with a 6 minute, 23 second drive that ended with a field goal to give the Bengals a 24-21 lead with 6:04 remaining in the game.
Mahomes took the rest of the time off as he led his team around the field. Kansas City had a first-and-goal with 1:26 left, but the Bengals’ defense was strong again, with Sam Hubbard sacking Mahomes on back-to-back plays to force the Chiefs to kick a game-tying field goal.
Kansas City won the coin toss in overtime, and it began to feel like deja vu from the previous week as the Chiefs marched down the field to score in the first series that fired the Bills. But this time, Mahomes was nearly intercepted by Apple on his second pass attempt of the series, and then intercepted by Vonn Bell on the next play as he tried to get the ball to Hill. The Bengals took over in their 45th and just 14 seconds into overtime.
“Just knowing the guys, who they go to, who [Mahomes] fetch? Is [Hill] Y [Kelce]. Just knowing the situation. And that’s when she tried to go 10 at the end of the game and Jessie [Bates] I broke it and finished it, just running to the man with the ball,” Bell said. “We never give up. Never stop fighting and let us never back down from the challenge.”
MORE: Revisiting the 12 playoff games that have gone to OT since the 2010 rule change
Unlike earlier in the game, Cincinnati had no trouble marching downfield. They reached the Chiefs 10-yard line. Bengals rookie kicker Evan McPherson sealed the win with a 31-yard pass.
An important part of the change was bottling Mahomes. He completed 18 of 21 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. He was limited to 8-for-18 passing for 55 yards, no touchdowns and a pair of interceptions in the second half and overtime.
The Bengals have been a strong team in the second half all season. They allowed the fourth-fewest second-half touchdowns in the regular season (15) and had the second-most second-half touchdowns during the season (29), according to Stathead.
MORE: Skip Bayless jinxed Chiefs, tried to back down in deranged tweet storm
Biggest NFL playoff comebacks
There have been many incredible postseason comebacks, and the one in Cincinnati will undoubtedly rank among the most memorable.
But in terms of overcoming the biggest deficit, he was just a few short of the biggest comebacks in playoff history.
|Bills against oilers||January 3, 1993||AFC Wild Card||32 points||Bills, 41-38|
|Bosses vs Colts||January 4, 2014||AFC Wild Card||28 points||Colts, 45-44|
|Patriots vs Falcons||February 5, 2017||Super Bowl||25 points||Patriots, 34-28|
|Chiefs vs. Texans||January 12, 2020||AFC divisional||24 points||Chiefs, 51-31|
|49ers vs giants||January 5, 2003||NFC wildcard||24 points||49ers 39-38|
The Oilers led the Bills 35-3 with less than 10 minutes left in the third quarter, and then watched that lead disappear. Buffalo scored 35 straight points before giving up a late field goal that tied the game 38-38. The Bills kicked a field goal in overtime to win the game. They went to the third of four consecutive Super Bowls.
Perhaps the most memorable comeback in recent years was the Patriots’ comeback in Super Bowl 51, when they trailed 28-3 and then came back to win 34-28 in overtime.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.