Cincinnati is going to the Super Bowl with Joe Cool at quarterback
The Bengals got rid of all the bad ghosts of decades of football in Cincinnati, beating Kansas City in the AFC title game, in the most unexpected way, winning with defense.
Joe Burrow guided the Bengals into the biggest game of their lives, but it was the Cincinnati defense and a little known rookie field goal kicker that got them the win.
It was out-of=character, how the Bengals won. It was definitely out-of-character for Kansas City to lose the way they did at home, with its offense being choked off the scoreboard.
Evan McPherson kicked 4-field goals, tying the game late in the 4th quarter, winning it in overtime.
But it was a defense led by Ty Frederickson and PJ Hill that triggered the comeback from a (21-3) deficit at halftime. Cincinnati mugged the Chiefs, knocked Patrick Mahomes out of rhythm, and changed the entire game by making it a street fight in the final two quarters.
Stunned-shocked-devastated…any and all descriptions fit the fans in Kansas City. The Bengals defense, in that second half, had 2-interceptions, 4-sacks, a forced a fumble, and ran the Chiefs off the field with 4-three and out series. This was a Chiefs offense that had 486-yards and 552-in its playoff wins, that totally disappeared in the second half.
Think about how they feel at Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati at this hour. A team owned by Mike Brown, inherited from his father Paul Brown, had a history of losing and being cheap.
The Bengals, used to losing, with an owner who accepted losing, was (17-53) in recent years before Burrow arrived. They had another stretch of (55-114) football under Brown’s ownership the decade of the 90s. They have had 24-non playoff seasons. They had lost 8-playoff games in a row till Burrow arrived.
That’s in the rear-view mirror now now because of the home grown quarterback..
This is a team that won road games in Kansas City, Tennessee, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and have 13-wins this year.
The favorite phrase in the Queen City is ‘Who Dey?” Dey is the AFC Champion going to the Super Bowl. The Baby Bengals have grown up.
The NFC war between the Rams and 49ers was couched with phrases ‘Body Bag Game’…’No Place for the Timid’, was a defensive brawl.
Just ask the QBs Jim Garoppolo and Matthew Stafford about the hits they took all night long at SoFi Stadium. Might have been safter out in the streets of LA.
But in the end, ‘Glitter beat Grit and Grime’ in the Rams black and blue (17-10) win over San Francisco.
It’s why the Rams went out and paid the price to get Stafford at QB and dealt for Von Miller at linebacker..
And in the process Stafford got rid of the ghosts in his past, the 9-years of futility, the (0-3) career record in the playoffs in Detroit. And for Von Miller, rebuilding his career and making such a key play at the end of the season leading to the game saving interception.
And you have to feel good for 40-year old left tackle Andrew Whitworth, a career of dedication without alot of reward.
The Niners had chances. They hung in there with a Jimmy Ward interception at the one, snuffing out a drive. And then a key 4th and 1-stop in the third quarter. But as long as Stafford and Cooper Kupp were out the field, LA was dangerous.
Stafford finished with (329Y) passing, and Kupp and Odell Beckham combined for 20-receptions, something San Fran just could not match.
The game was a street fight. Big hits, sacks, dropped passes, dropped interceptions, questionable calls, and missed penalties. It was really a war out there.
Yes it was a sea of red jerseys in the Rams house. And yes owner Stan Kroenke raved about LA fan support in the stadium he privately financed.
They even survived Sean McVay’s illogical use of 3-timeouts and ill advised challenges, but it worked out because McVay got rid of his own personal ghosts, the 6-losses in a row to Kyle Shanahan.
So two weeks from now it will be Rams-Bengals in a Super Bowl no one expected. 1-club that everyone expected to be hosting the game on its home field, and the other no one gave any consideration too.
A playoff Sunday with high expectations and different results for sure.