Jan 22, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) is tackled by Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson (91) during the first half of an AFC Divisional playoff football game at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals defeat Titans on FG as time expires, 19-16

Rookie Evan McPherson kicked a 52-yard field goal as time expired to propel the visiting Cincinnati 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 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.

Burrow overcame nine sacks to complete 28 of 37 passes for 348 yards. Chase had five catches for 109 yards for the fourth-seeded Bengals, who won their first road playoff game in franchise history to advance 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.

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 touchdown for the top-seeded Titans.

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.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson (91) celebrates the sack with cornerback Eli Apple (20) during the third quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals’ sack leader Trey Hendrickson cleared to play

Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson cleared the concussion protocol and will play in Saturday’s AFC divisional playoff game against the host Tennessee Titans.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor gave the update Thursday on Hendrickson, who was injured during last weekend’s 26-19 wild-card victory against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Hendrickson, 27, registered a team-high 14.0 sacks in 16 games (14 starts) and earned a Pro Bowl selection in his first season with Cincinnati. He finished with 34 tackles, 27 quarterback hits and three forced fumbles.

He had a strip-sack against Raiders quarterback Derek Carr before leaving last Saturday’s game.

Hendrickson signed a four-year, $60 million contract in free agency in March after four seasons with the New Orleans Saints. The 2017 third-round pick had 20 sacks — including 13.5 in 2020 — in 45 games with the Saints.

–Field Level Media

Jan 15, 2022; Cincinnati, OH, USA;  Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throws for a first down in the first half the AFC wild card game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. Mandatory Credit: Albert Cesare-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals defeat Raiders for first playoff win since 1991

Joe Burrow passed for 244 yards and two first-half touchdowns as the Cincinnati Bengals ended a 31-year postseason losing streak with a 26-19 victory over the visiting Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday afternoon.

Evan McPherson kicked four field goals for the Bengals.

Cincinnati advanced out of the opening round of the playoffs for the first time since the 1990 season.

“It’s a great win for us, for the city and the organization, but, you know, we expected this. So, it’s not gonna be a big celebration like it was when we won the division,” Burrow said. “We took care of business, now it’s on to the next round.”

Cincinnati led by 10 points after McPherson’s fourth field goal, a 28-yarder, with 6:46 to play.

The Raiders pulled to within 26-19 on the ensuing drive on Daniel Carlson’s 28-yard FG – his fourth of the game as well — with 3:37 remaining. Las Vegas converted a huge fourth-and-5 from its own 44-yard line to keep alive the drive.

The Bengals could not run out the clock, giving Las Vegas the ball at its own 35 with 1:51 to play. The Raiders moved to the Cincinnati 9-yard line but failed to get the tying score on four snaps, the final one ending with an interception by the Bengals’ Germaine Pratt with 12 seconds to play.

Derek Carr threw for 310 yards and a touchdown in the loss for Las Vegas, completing passes to seven different receivers. Josh Jacobs rushed for 83 yards on 13 carries.

The Raiders, making their first playoff appearance since 2016, have not recorded a postseason victory since the 2002 season.

“The Bengals beat us today — we came up short today,” Carr said. “Honestly, I’m just trying to hold back emotion because I didn’t plan on that happening. You know, I didn’t expect it to have to go that way. I just felt so confident in the game plan. So, it’s just hard right now. But looking at the season, you definitely have some pieces there. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.”

Las Vegas got on the board on its opening drive, moving 47 yards to Carlson’s 47-yard field goal with 9:28 to play in the first quarter. Cincinnati answered with Burrow’s 7-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Uzomah and a 7-3 lead with 4:35 left in the quarter.

On the ensuing possession, Carr fumbled while being sacked from behind by the Bengals’ Trey Hendrickson, with the loose ball picked up by Larry Ogunjobi and returned to the Las Vegas 15-yard line. Cincinnati settled for a 31-yard FG by McPherson that expanded its advantage to 10-3.

The teams traded field goals early in the second quarter, with McPherson hitting from 30 yards at the 10:23 mark and Carlson converting from 28 yards out with 7:58 to play until halftime.

Burrow added to the Bengals’ lead with a scrambling, 10-yard TD pass to Tyler Boyd with 1:51 left in the half. That left plenty of time for Carr, who drove to a 14-yard scoring pass to Zay Jones to pull the Raiders to within 20-13 at the break.

The only scoring in the third quarter was a 43-yard field goal by McPherson on the Bengals’ opening drive of the half that pushed their lead to 23-13.

Carlson hit from 34 yards away on the second play of the fourth quarter to bring the Raiders within a touchdown, 23-16.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Wyatt Ray (93) chases Cleveland Browns quarterback Case Keenum (5) during the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Browns top Bengals in battle of backup QBs, 21-16

The Cincinnati Bengals won the AFC North, but the host Cleveland Browns continued their recent dominance in this interstate series with a 21-16 victory in the regular-season finale on Sunday.

Cleveland (8-9) snapped a three-game skid and ended a disappointing season with their fourth straight win over the Bengals (10-7), who clinched the division title and a playoff spot a week ago.

Case Keenum improved to 2-0 this season as the Cleveland starting quarterback and completed 17 of 24 passes for 176 yards with two touchdowns and an interception as a replacement for the injured Baker Mayfield. D’Ernest Johnson powered the offense with 123 rushing yards and a touchdown on 25 carries.

The Bengals played backups virtually across the board — including quarterback Brandon Allen in place of a resting Joe Burrow — thanks to a playoff spot in hand and more than a half-dozen additions to the reserve/COVID list during the week.

The one notable exception was wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who played the first five offensive snaps and then was subbed out. It was enough for Chase to catch two passes for 26 yards, which gave him the Cincinnati single-season receiving yardage record of 1,455 yards — topping Chad Johnson (2007, 1,440).

The Bengals finished with a season low of 182 total yards, had seven punts, and just 11 first downs. Allen was 15 of 29 for 136 yards and a touchdown; he was sacked four times. The Browns more than doubled the Bengals’ yardage (376).

The Bengals even used a backup kicker, as Elliott Fry hit a 36-yard field goal with 5:01 left in the third quarter to close to within 14-10.

The Browns put the game away with 7:14 left as Keenum flipped a 10-yard touchdown to rookie Demetric Felton for a 21-10 lead. Allen threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Chris Evans with 2:26 left, but the Bengals failed on a two-point conversion, and Cleveland recovered the ensuing onside kick.

Keenum was sharp early, and piloted two early touchdown drives for a 14-0 lead for the Browns. He found Jarvis Landry for a 26-yard score late in the first quarter, and Johnson made it 14-0 with his 4-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter.

But Keenum let Cincinnati hang around as well. Wyatt Ray’s strip-sack on Keenum led to Trayvon Henderson’s 29-yard fumble return touchdown to get the Bengals on the board. Keenum was then picked off by Mike Hilton in the end zone on the final play of the first half.

Cleveland outgained Cincinnati 233-65 in the first half as Allen hit 6 of 13 passes for just 58 yards. The Bengals had three first downs in the half compared to 15 for the Browns.

– Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) celebrates the win after the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals QB Joe Burrow to rest sore knee in season finale

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will sit out Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Cleveland Browns with a sore right knee but gave assurances he will be on the field when the playoffs begin later this month.

Burrow twisted his knee late in Sunday’s 34-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs as the Bengals clinched the AFC North title.

The second-year QB has been on fire of late. Burrow has combined for 971 yards passing over his last two games with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. He has 4,611 passing yards this season to shatter the Bengals’ franchise record.

When asked if his knee could keep him out of the playoffs, Burrow said, “that wouldn’t be a factor.”

“My knee is — I mean, it’s sore, but it’s not bad,” Burrow said. “I could play if I needed to.”

Veteran backup Brandon Allen, who is 2-6 as a starter with the Bengals and Denver Broncos, is expected to start.

The Bengals also will be without running back Joe Mixon, who tested positive for COVID-19, according to multiple reports.

Cincinnati placed five players on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday: safety Vonn Bell, linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither, defensive end Trey Hendrickson, center Trey Hopkins and guard Quinton Spain.

Mixon ranks second in the NFL with a career-high 1,205 rushing yards and is fourth with 13 rushing touchdowns.

The Bengals have reached the playoffs for the first time since 2015. They haven’t won a playoff game since a 41-14 wild-card victory over the Houston Oilers in 1990.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) celebrates after the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Bengals RB Joe Mixon tests positive for COVID-19

Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon tested positive for COVID-19, according to multiple reports.

The first-time Pro Bowl selection will miss the AFC North champions’ regular season finale on Sunday against the visiting Cleveland Browns, per the report.

Cincinnati placed five players on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday: safety Vonn Bell, linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither, defensive end Trey Hendrickson, center Trey Hopkins and guard Quinton Spain.

Mixon ranks second in the NFL with a career-high 1,205 rushing yards and is fourth with 13 rushing touchdowns.

Mixon, 25, has rushed for 4,564 yards and 33 scores and added 171 catches for 1,322 yards and eight touchdowns in 66 games (57 starts) since the Bengals drafted him in the second round in 2017.

–Field Level Media

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) catches a pass as Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt (57) defends in the second quarter of a Week 14 NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.

San Francisco 49ers At Cincinnati Bengals Dec 12

Bengals place LB Germaine Pratt on COVID list

The Cincinnati Bengals placed starting linebacker Germaine Pratt on the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday.

Pratt, 25, ranks second on the team with 91 tackles, just one fewer than safety Vonn Bell.

A third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Pratt also has two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception in 15 starts this season.

He has never missed a game in his three-year NFL career, but that streak is in jeopardy for Sunday’s contest between the Bengals (9-6) and visiting Kansas City Chiefs (11-4).

The Bengals also cleared guard Xavier Su’a-Filo to return to practice from injured reserve and removed wide receiver Mike Thomas from the COVID list.

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throws in the first quarter during a Week 13 NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.

Los Angeles Chargers At Cincinnati Bengals Dec 5

Bengals, Broncos meet in showdown of 7-6 squads

The NFL moving to a 17-game season has helped teams stay in the playoff race a little longer. It also helps when the league is packed so tightly without one team standing out more than any other.

The playoff picture will begin to clear up in the coming weeks, but for Denver and Cincinnati, it will be more immediate. The teams meet Sunday, with the winner solidifying its hold on a playoff spot and the loser needing a late-season run to stay alive.

The Broncos (7-6) and Bengals (7-6) are two of the five AFC teams to hold those records after 14 weeks of football. Cincinnati is in a better position within the AFC North, sitting one game back of the Baltimore Ravens despite losing its last two games.

The Bengals are coming off two straight disappointing home losses, the last one in overtime when San Francisco scored a touchdown following a Cincinnati field goal.

The Bengals have a tough finish to the season with all four opponents holding winning records while players are nursing minor injuries. Quarterback Joe Burrow didn’t practice Wednesday, and the injury report lists a right finger injury, but it shouldn’t prevent him from playing.

“It’s good; good enough,” Burrow told reporters on Wednesday. “Good enough to play.”

Several other players didn’t practice Wednesday but the only one who is in danger of not taking the field in Denver on Sunday is offensive tackle Riley Reiff, who is dealing with an ankle injury. Clark Harris, Trey Hill and Trey Hopkins didn’t practice due to illness.

Defensive end Trey Hendrickson, who dealt with back spasms last Sunday, didn’t practice Wednesday but has not been ruled out for Sunday.

The Broncos have bounced back from a four-game losing streak to put themselves in the hunt for their first playoff spot since winning Super Bowl 50 six seasons ago.

Several Denver players sat out practice, but coach Vic Fangio didn’t sound worried about their statuses for Sunday. One who is questionable is Dre’Mont Jones, who is dealing with a foot injury.

“If we had to list him today, I’d say he was questionable, and it’s truly 50-50,” Fangio said Wednesday.

Wide receiver Tim Patrick hurt his finger in the win over Detroit last week but was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice.

The Broncos’ recent surge has come with a more effective running game that has developed into a two-headed beast. Javonte Williams leads the team with 743 rushing yards in 13 games and Melvin Gordon III is right behind with 716 in 12 games.

Gordon’s one-game absence seemed to refill his tank. He has put together back-to-back strong outings. Fangio said using both could help keep the running backs fresh for the stretch run.

“I think so. Obviously, Javonte had a bunch of touches the week before,” he said. “Melvin came back this week. Melvin was running (well), so we left him in there. He got more than Javonte did, which probably — coming off of the previous game now — allows us to have good freedom going into this game.”

It also takes pressure off quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who has thrown just 43 passes in Denver’s last two wins.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Clay Johnston (44) tackles Pittsburgh Steelers running back Anthony McFarland (26) in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals add LB Clay Johnston to COVID list

The Cincinnati Bengals added linebacker Clay Johnston to the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday.

Signed off waivers from the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 9, Johnston has played mostly on special teams.

He has 13 tackles and one forced fumble in 10 games this season with Carolina and Cincinnati.

Johnston, 25, was originally a seventh-round pick by the Los Angeles Rams in 2020.

The Bengals (7-6) are on the road this Sunday against the Denver Broncos (7-6).

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) before the game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterbacks take center stage in Chargers-Bengals matchup

Considering where they were drafted, Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert were always going to be compared with one another. Now, they’ll square off for the first time on Sunday when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals (7-4) and Chargers (6-5) are both thinking playoffs, and it’s due in large part to those young quarterbacks. Burrow, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, leads the AFC with a 101.6 passer rating this season. Herbert, the No. 6 pick in 2020, ranks fourth in the NFL with 3,230 passing yards and fifth with 24 touchdown passes.

Cincinnati is gunning for the postseason for the first time since 2015, while the Chargers are trying to secure a playoff spot for the first time since 2018. Both trail their respective division leaders by one game; LA trails Cincinnati by one game in the wild-card hunt.

But for all the stakes, and the emphasis on the QBs, Burrow said it’s just another game for him.

“Everybody likes to talk about the quarterback matchups, but we’re playing on offense against their defense and their defensive coach,” Burrow said. “I’m excited to watch (Herbert) play, he’s a fun player, but we’re going to go out and execute.”

The Bengals have won two in a row and are playing the second of three straight home games. And they have more than just Burrow. Defensive end Trey Hendrickson (10.5 sacks) has at least one sack in seven straight games and leads a revamped and effective defense.

In the backfield, running back Joe Mixon (924 rushing yards, 11 TDs) has scored at least once in eight straight games and has two touchdowns apiece in each of the last four. That will be as much of a concern as Burrow for a Chargers squad that is last in the NFL in rushing defense (145.3 yards per game) and 29th in scoring defense (26.6 ppg).

“It’s Dec. 1 today, and now there’s a different level when you’re in the hunt,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. “There’s another level of focus, there’s another gear that you have to get to. … When you’re in the hunt now you’ve got to make those improvements.”

Herbert was the 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, but has been up and down this season. He was picked off twice in last week’s 28-13 loss at the Denver Broncos despite throwing for 303 yards. Austin Ekeler (604 rushing yards, 14 total TDs) was held to 31 yards rushing in the loss as well.

It’s time for Los Angeles, which has split its last four games, to put it all together, Keenan Allen said. He leads the Chargers with 81 catches for 895 yards, but just two touchdowns.

“It’s different in the room when you are playing for something; it means something obviously. We got the right team, the right coaches. Everything is going good so we just have to put it together,” he said.

The Chargers lead the all-time series 21-14 and have won two straight against the Bengals, including 16-13 in the 2020 season opener. Herbert was the backup and didn’t play in that matchup.

Neither team has serious injury concerns. The Bengals rested seven players on Wednesday, but coach Zac Taylor believes both offensive tackle Riley Reiff (ankle) and center Trey Hopkins (ankle) will be available. For the Chargers, cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. (concussion) and safety Alohi Gilman (quad) did not participate in practice on Wednesday.

–Field Level Media