Bengals defeat Titans on FG as time expires
Cincinnati will visit the winner of Sunday's divisional-round game between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs
The Cincinnati Bengals relied on the foot of their rookie kicker to continue their Cinderella season.
Evan McPherson kicked a 52-yard field goal as time expired to propel the visiting Bengals to a berth in the AFC Championship Game, courtesy of a 19-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Saturday in Nashville, Tenn.
Ryan Tannehill tossed his third interception after linebacker Logan Wilson reeled in a deflected ball at Cincinnati's 47-yard line with 20 seconds to play. Joe Burrow connected with rookie Ja'Marr Chase on a 19-yard strike, and McPherson came on three plays later to drill his fourth field goal of the game.
"This is a kicker's dream, to have the game on your shoulder," McPherson said after sending the Bengals to the AFC title game for the first time since the 1988 season.
Cincinnati will visit the winner of Sunday's divisional-round game between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs on Jan. 30. The Bengals posted a 34-31 win over visiting Kansas City on Jan. 2. They did not face Buffalo this season.
Burrow overcame an NFL postseason record-tying nine sacks to complete 28 of 37 passes for 348 yards.
"I feel good. Tomorrow morning may be a different story, but right now I feel great," Burrow said.
Chase had five catches for 109 yards and Tee Higgins added seven receptions for 96 yards for the fourth-seeded Bengals, who won their first road playoff game in franchise history.
"This is the expectation for this team. This is not too big for these guys," Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor said.
Tennessee's Derrick Henry rushed for 62 yards and a touchdown while playing in his first game since breaking his foot on Oct. 31. Tannehill threw for 220 yards and A.J. Brown had five catches for 142 yards and a score for the top-seeded Titans.
"It's the same thing you always say -- 31 teams are gonna be (angry)," Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel said. "You don't show up to the stadium planning postgame conversations with your team about losing, about having the finality of the season, about when you're gonna meet and all those things. It's disappointing because I know that they fight and they compete."
Jeffery Simmons registered three of the Titans' nine sacks.
"Our goal was to go to the Super Bowl and win it," Simmons said. "Of course we (fell) short of our goal like I said, but in order to continue to play in February, we were supposed to have been taking care of this game. It just so happens that we didn't."
After being held to three field goals in the first half, Cincinnati drove 65 yards for a touchdown on its first drive in the third quarter. Joe Mixon capped the nine-play stretch by bolting 16 yards for a score to give the Bengals a 16-6 lead.
Former Cincinnati kicker Randy Bullock made a 34-yard field goal to cut into the Titans' deficit and Amani Hooker intercepted a deflected ball on the next possession. Brown promptly made a one-handed catch for a 33-yard touchdown on a back-shoulder throw from Tannehill to tie the game.
McPherson drilled 38- and 45-yard field goals in the first quarter before Henry took a direct snap and rumbled off left tackle for a 3-yard touchdown with 6:12 remaining in the second. Henry was denied on a two-point conversion attempt, and McPherson regained the lead for Cincinnati with a 54-yard field goal on the ensuing possession