KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Whatever could have gone wrong for the Cincinnati Bengals in the final minute of the AFC championship game, it went wrong.
Joe Burrow was reported for intentional grounding. A few shots later, he was fired. Punt coverage broke and allowed for a 29-yard return. A limping quarterback, Patrick Mahomes ran out of the pocket on third down and ran for a first down.
Then came the penalty. After Mahomes went out of bounds on the Cincinnati 42-yard line, Bengals linebacker Joseph Ossai hit a late hit that drew a flag from 15 yards, setting up Harrison Butker’s 45-yard field goal with three seconds left. end.
It was the worst mistake at the worst time.
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“You can’t have that,” Bengals cornerback Eli Apple told USA TODAY Sports. “Is critical. Crucial. Of course the position in the field … tack on 15 yards. It wasn’t just that game. There were many other comedies. You don’t want to bet everything on him. But of course, that’s something you can’t do.
No, the Bengals were not only defeated by Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in their bid to repeat as AFC champions, they were also beaten by Murphy’s Law.
The Bengals (12-5) snapped their 10-game hitting streak and lost to the Chiefs for the first time in four games in 13 months.
The final penalty was so significant on a cold night at Arrowhead Stadium when stiff winds limited range and accuracy. Had the Chiefs not gained another yard after Mahomes’ 5-yard run, they would have faced a 60-yard field goal attempt.
Butker told USA TODAY Sports that his range at the west end of the stadium was between 53 and 55 yards.
After tying the game early in the fourth quarter with a 2-yard Samaje Perine TD run that was set up by a 46-yard completion from Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase on a gutsy fourth-and-6 call, the Bengals are done badly cause with different penalties in tough times. Cincinnati committed five of its nine penalties (71) in the fourth quarter. Kansas City was tagged four times for 55 yards.
The Chiefs (15-3) also took a breather early in the fourth quarter when a third-and-9 play ending with Travis Kelce stalled well short of converting for a first down, was replayed after the referee Ronald Torbert announced that the game had been called dead to synchronize the clock and the play-clock. It was a strange sequence. The Chiefs had their own punt team on the field when Torbert made the announcement. When the infraction returned, Mahomes was exonerated… but a retention penalty on Apple extended the drive.
The controversy was avoided after the Chiefs were ultimately forced to punt. But the unusual sequence raised the question of whether the Bengals had been destroyed by the disruptions.
When Chase was asked if Cincinnati had gotten a good jolt, he replied, “Not really. I think we had three thirds and nines, three in a row, actually.
Apple added: “They beat us, honestly. It’s a great team over there, whatever the referees do. It will be like this every year; there will always be bad calls. At the end of the day, they fought hard. And they won.”