No one gave the Bengals a chance against the Bills in Buffalo today.
The Bengals depleted offensive line.
The Bills momentum.
None of it mattered today because Joe Burrow once again defied all logic. Burrow, who has done nothing but win road playoff games since coming to Cincinnati, will again be playing in the AFC championship game.
Burrow and the Bengals came into Orchard Park, 5.5-point underdogs against the Bills. He quickly reminded everyone why that was silly.
While there were some awe-inspiring non-Burrow moments in this game: the Bengals defense, the depleted offensive line, Joe Mixon, Zac Taylor’s game plan, etc … it all centered around Joe Burrow. Burrow completed 23 of 36 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns.
Joe Mixon helped balance things, showing a commitment to the running game that Cincinnati hasn’t had to use in recent weeks, and it was a critical component to Zac Taylor’s excellent game plan today. Cincinnati’s defense won the battle at the line of scrimmage, and believe it or not, Cincinnati’s make-shift offensive line did too. Zac Taylor deserves a ton of credit for his game plan today.
For the second straight season, it’ll be Burrow vs. Mahomes in the AFC Championship at Arrowhead. I hope everyone learned one thing today, though. Don’t bet against Joe Burrow.
1. Joe Burrow Comes Out Firing
I tried to tell you. I tried to tell you that Joe Burrow would slice up Buffalo’s defense. Cincinnati took control of the game early with back-to-back touchdown drives in which Burrow diced up the Bills defense. Burrow was quick, accurate, and effective on both drives.
Here’s Burrow hitting Ja’Marr Chase for an opening drive touchdown:
After Cincinnati’s defense forced a punt, Burrow was back at it. Here’s Burrow hitting Hayden Hurst for a touchdown that put the Bengals up 14-0:
Burrow was 9 for 9 for 105 yards and two touchdowns on the first two drives.
2. Josh Allen Says Not So Fast!
With the Bills on their heels early, Josh Allen put together a drive that saved Buffalo’s season for the time being. Allen led the Bills on a 15-play, 85-yard drive that cut the Cincinnati lead in half. Allen capped the drive with a quarterback sneak for a touchdown.
3. Bengals Hold Bills to Field Goal on Opening Drive of Second Half
After a long opening drive to start the second half, the Bengals defense held the Bills to a field goal to make it 17-10 instead of 17-14.
The stop in the red zone was huge, but the ensuing drive by Joe Burrow was even bigger.
Burrow and the Bengals orchestrated a 12-play, 71-yard drive that ended in a touchdown and put Cincinnati up 24-10 near the end of the third quarter.
4. Nail in the Coffin
With a two-touchdown lead, Joe Burrow put the final nail in the coffin for the Bills with a 4th down stop deep in their territory with under eight minutes to play. A hat tip to the marvelous performance by the Bengals defense today.