Cincinnati Bengals Banish Playoff Ghosts in Defeating Las Vegas Raiders

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Thirty-one years. It spans an entire generation of Cincinnati Bengals fans that have never seen the team win a playoff game. On Saturday, with the largest crowd in Cincinnati sports history behind them, the Bengals finally did it by defeating the Las Vegas Raiders 26-19. All the heartbreak, the tough losses, and the futility ended when linebacker Germaine Pratt intercepted a Derek Carr pass at the goal line as pandemonium ensued for the 66,277 in attendance and all over Cincinnati. The Raiders received the ball to begin the game and had a solid drive that resulted in a field goal. The Bengals then followed with a fantastic 10 play, 75-yard touchdown drive on a bullet from Joe Burrow to tight end C.J. Uzomah to put the Bengals up 7-3. This opening drive was crucial in giving the Bengals confidence and relaxing them to begin the game. The Raiders pulled to 20-13 before the half on an 80-yard drive on a touchdown pass from Carr to Zay Jones.

Cincinnati Bengals Banish Playoff Ghosts Defeating Las Vegas Raiders

Joe Knows

This was the first of many playoff games for the Bengals signal-caller and leader in Burrow. If this performance was any indication of his playoff prowess, Cincinnati is in excellent hands for years to come. Burrow was cool and composed the entire game. He finished 24/34 on 244 yards passing with two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a QB rating of 110.4.

Having a quarterback that knows what it takes to win in the playoffs and the biggest moments is invaluable to a franchise. In his second season, after reconstructive knee surgery, Burrow is leading the Bengals to places they haven’t been in three decades.

Chasing History

As important as Burrow has been this season to the team’s success, his running mate, Ja’Marr Chase has been every bit his equal. Chase put on a MasterClass against the Raiders on short to intermediate routes and on running plays. Chase finished his first playoff game with 116 receiving yards and 23 rushing yards including picking up a crucial fourth down late in the game. This performance marks the most receiving yards by a rookie wide receiver in a playoff game in NFL history. Chase surpassed fellow Bengal Cris Collinsworth’s 107 yards in Super Bowl XVI.

The Burrow and Chase connection has been a lethal combination for the Bengals and a nightmare for opposing defenses. With every game that passes and experiences accumulated, this duo is just getting started.

Defense Saves the Day

The Bengals defense has often been the unsung heroes of this 2021-2022 season. They currently rank fifth in rushing but are middle of the road in other defensive metrics. Against the Raiders, they stepped up the entire game when it mattered most in limiting several drives to field goals. Bengals safety Jessie Bates noted after the game about keeping calm in critical situations in the fourth quarter, “I don’t think people really process how hard it is to keep your calm and go win a game in the fourth quarter in that situation,” bates said. “You see a lot of times defenses kind of lay down, get tired, and give up the touchdown. So, the first time we played the Raiders our offense went out there and executed and won the game for us. This time our defense stood up and got a stop. That’s what you want to have.” Bengals linebacker Pratt in his third season has been a key contributor on defense all season long. With 17 seconds left in the game, a play that was 31 years in the making for the Bengals and fans of this team finally happened.

The Bengals will now move on to face the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round this week. Cincinnati is battle-tested and playing with house money at this point. With the past behind them, they can play loose and unburdened. For fans, the long playoff drought is finally over. In life, the best things are often worth the wait.

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