The Bengals beat the Chiefs twice last season, including in the AFC championship game, and came back Sunday to get another win over Kansas City. The Bengals made mistakes but didn't back down, winning after trailing by seven going into the fourth quarter.
Cincinnati came up with multiple clutch plays in the fourth quarter to beat the Chiefs, just as they did in the regular season last year and in the postseason. The Bengals are 8-4 after the 27-24 win over the Chiefs and in good position to steal away the AFC North title from the Baltimore Ravens, who saw Lamar Jackson go down with a knee injury on Sunday.
The Bengals made the Super Bowl last season. They might be even better this season, and the win over the Chiefs is a sign they're peaking at the right time.
Bengals start fast, Chiefs come back
The Bengals had chances to build a big lead after a fast start. But a few key mistakes kept the Chiefs in the game.
On a fourth-and-1 deep in Chiefs territory, the Bengals went for it. Instead of sneaking it ahead, which is a high-percentage play in that situation, the Bengals ran a jet sweep from left to right. Chiefs defensive lineman Carlos Dunlap shot through the line and tackled it for an immediate loss. The momentum of the game changed after that.
In the third quarter, with the Chiefs leading 17-14, the Bengals had a great play on third down, getting Tyler Boyd on a wheel route after a pick by Ja'Marr Chase got him open. And was Boyd ever open. There was nobody within five yards from him when Joe Burrow's pass was in the air. And Boyd dropped it. Nobody was around. The pass was fine. The sun wasn't in his eyes. It just went through his hands.
Kansas City scored what seemed to be a huge touchdown later in the third quarter. The Chiefs surprisingly went for it on fourth-and-goal at the Bengals' 3-yard line. The game was 17-17 but the Chiefs didn't want to just break the tie. Patrick Mahomes dropped back, then ran up the middle. He jumped and stretched the ball over the goal line just before he got hit and fumbled for a huge touchdown.
That's the point in which many teams would fold against the Chiefs. Kansas City is a great team with a world-class quarterback and opponents seem to wilt when there's pressure against them, or they make a few mistakes. But the Bengals aren't intimidated by Kansas City, and they never wavered.
Bengals make big plays in 4th quarter
The Bengals were down 24-17 going into the third quarter, but got a field goal and then a big play on defense. Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt ripped the ball away from tight end Travis Kelce and the Bengals recovered. After that, Burrow hit Chris Evans for an 8-yard touchdown pass and the lead.
The Chiefs weren't done at that point, but the Bengals had taken their punch and came right back.
The Chiefs had a chance to tie but Harrison Butker missed a field goal wide right. After that Kansas City could have gotten the ball back with a chance to tie or win, but Chase made a big play to get a first down on third-and-5 with less than three minutes left. Then Tee Higgins sealed the win with a 14-yard catch on third-and-11, just after the two-minute warning.
Usually it's the Chiefs making plays like that, or watching opponents give them breaks like missed field goals. The Bengals are the one team the Chiefs can't figure out lately. Kansas City can win a Super Bowl, but it doesn't want to see the Bengals again in January.