Overall, the Cincinnati Bengals had a very strong outing during their 34-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 17. However, if you watched the game you couldn’t help but notice luck was on Cincinnati’s side, especially late in the game.
It all began on the very first play in the fourth quarter. On a 3rd-and-3 pass attempt by quarterback Joe Burrow to wide receiver Tee Higgins, Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, who seemingly did a great job of covering Higgins, was flagged for pass interference. That play gave the Bengals a first down instead of having to punt from their own 21-yard line.
On the same drive, Burrow completed a pass to rookie Ja’Marr Chase on a 2nd-and-11 play, and Chase was brought down by Sneed after a five-yard pickup on what looked to be a clean tackle by Sneed. But the officials flagged Sneed for unnecessary roughness.
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The next display of poor officiating which favored the Bengals was on the final drive of the game when Cincinnati was at Kansas City’s one-yard line. On 4th-and-goal, Burrow threw a pass to running back Joe Mixon, who was stopped short of the goal line. But the officials called holding penalties on both teams, which forced a replay of the down.
On the following play, Burrow threw an incomplete pass to wideout Tyler Boyd, who was being covered by Sneed. However, Sneed was flagged for illegal use of hands to the face, which gave Cincinnati a fresh set of downs with 45 seconds left in the game. From there, the Bengals drained the clock with kneel-downs and kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired.
Burrow: ‘We Got a Little Lucky’
After the game, Burrow was asked on the field what he was feeling when he saw kicker Evan McPherson’s field goal go through the uprights for the game-winning score. It was then that Burrow admitted what all of Chiefs Kingdom was thinking.
“It was a great feeling. We got a little lucky at the end. We got some calls, but sometimes you gotta get a little lucky,” he said.
Andy Reid Holds Back Comments
On the flip side, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid wasn’t very pleased with how the officiating benefitted the Bengals.
“I’d like to comment on each [penalty], but I don’t want to be fined,” Reid said during his postgame press conference on Sunday, January 2.
However, Big Red acknowledged that Kansas City will use the loss as a learning experience and get better from it.
“You learn from it. As coaches and players, that’s all you can do,” he said. “The guys battled, and I thought we played aggressive football. We came up short against a good team. We’ll come back, study it, and get better from it.”
Chiefs Lose Top Seed in AFC
The loss for Kansas City (11-5) means they are now the No. 2 seed in the AFC, as the Tennessee Titans (11-5) own the tiebreaker over the Chiefs and are now the No. 1 seed after beating the Miami Dolphins 34-3 in Week 17.
To gain the top seed once again, the Chiefs must beat the Denver Broncos in the regular season finale and the Houston Texans must beat the Titans.
As for the Bengals, they now punch their ticket to the playoffs for the first time since 2015. The win over Kansas City earned Cincinnati the AFC North title, which ensures that they will be part of the 2021-22 NFL postseason. They are the No. 3 seed in the AFC entering Week 18.