CINCINNATI (AP) — The Bengals managed to survive and advance.
However, their win over the Ravens may have cost them another starter on the offensive line.
Cincinnati beat Baltimore 24-17 on Sunday night, winning a playoff game in consecutive years for the first time in franchise history.
The Bengals likely lost a third starting offensive lineman in the space of a month when left tackle Jonah Williams departed in the second quarter with a left knee injury.
The Ravens sacked Joe Burrow four times on Sunday, the most since he was sacked five times by the Browns on Halloween in the most recent game Cincinnati lost before its current nine-game win streak.
Now the Bengals (13-4) face Buffalo (14-3) on Sunday possibly with three backups on an offensive line that was retooled with three free agents and a rookie before the season. Jackson Carman, who has played guard since being drafted by the Bengals in 2021, replaced Williams to finish Sunday's game and could start at left tackle against the Bills.
“We'll see who's available and do our best to rep them and get them going,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said.
The second-seeded Bills beat the Dolphins 34-31 in a wild-card game on Sunday.
“At this point it doesn't really matter what the seed is. Every game is going to be a dogfight, and we knew that,” Taylor said. “You go through all the peaks and valleys with all the people in this room. You're here every step of the way — to get to the playoffs and it can be over in a heartbeat. Our guys didn't want that to happen, so they found a way to move on.”
For the second straight week, big plays by the defense turned the game.
In the Bengals' 27-16 win over the Ravens in the regular-season finale, Cincinnati intercepted rookie quarterback Anthony Brown twice and recovered his fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.
In Sunday's win, the defensive score was even more improbable. In the fourth quarter, Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley tried to sneak in from Bengals 1, but the outstretched ball was knocked loose and into the arms of defensive end Sam Hubbard, who rumbled 98 yards the other way for a TD.
“I was excited. I got up and started running down the sideline,” receiver Ja'Marr Chase said. “That was cool to see.”
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Cincinnati hasn't played a complete game in more than a month. Dominant quarters or halves have been just enough during its nine-game win streak. The offense bogs down. The running game is ineffective.
On Sunday, the Ravens had a chance to tie the game on the last play when Huntley heaved a desperation pass into the end zone and the tipped ball went off the fingers of James Proche.
Another close call.
Hubbard was accompanied by a cadre of teammates on his long sprint down the field and needed oxygen when he got to the bench. His 98-yard fumble return was the longest in NFL postseason history. The fifth-year veteran is a captain and one of the emotional leaders of the Cincinnati defense.
“You can’t even dream that one up,” said Hubbard, who grew up in Cincinnati and played at Ohio State. ”That was a tough-fought game with a lot of adversity. To be the guy to come through is an amazing feeling.”
Kicker Evan McPherson missed his fifth extra point this season.
There has been no word on whether injuries to Williams and right guard Alex Cappa (ankle) will end their seasons. Williams was seen in the locker room after the game with a crutch and soft cast on his leg.
106 — Combined rushing yards by the Bengals in consecutive games against Baltimore.
Cincinnati travels to play the Bills three weeks after Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field at Paycor Stadium on Jan. 2, leading to the cancellation of the teams' regular-season game.
“It'll be another juice game,” Bengals safety Jessie Bates III said. “We tend to do well on the road late when it's cold, so we'll be ready.”
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Mitch Stacy, The Associated Press