Bengals vs. Raiders score: Cincinnati holds off Las Vegas for first playoff victory in 31 years

The drought is over. On Saturday, the Cincinnati Bengals recorded their first playoff victory in 31 years, as they defeated the Las Vegas Raiders, 26-19. The Raiders overcame an incredible amount of adversity this season to make the playoffs with an interim head coach, but couldn't force overtime despite having the ball in the red zone with under a minute left.  

The Raiders did their best to mount a comeback in the late stages of this one. Down 10 points halfway through the fourth quarter, Derek Carr led Vegas on a 67-yard, 12-play drive that ended in a Daniel Carlson field goal to make it a seven-point game. The defense then forced a three-and-out, and gave the Raiders back the ball with 1:51 left down a touchdown. Carr got the Raiders down to the Bengals' nine-yard line, but threw an interception to Germaine Pratt on fourth-and-goal. 

Burrow completed 24 of 34 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns. He made several impressive throws that kept drives alive and remained in control all evening. His favorite target was his college teammate in Ja'Marr Chase, who caught nine of 12 targets for 116 yards. The rookie became the fourth different Bengals receiver with a 100-yard game in the postseason, and the first since Marvin Jones in 2014. C.J. Uzomah had a day as well, as he caught six passes for 64 yards and a touchdown.

The Raiders offense struggled to finish off drives against the Bengals, and they got into the end zone just once. Carr completed 29 of 54 passes for 310 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Josh Jacobs had a great performance in the losing effort, as he rushed 13 times for 83 yards, and caught four passes for 44 yards. 

The Bengals will now wait to see who they face in the next round of the playoffs. Let's take a look at what went down in Cincinnati Saturday night. 

Why the Bengals won

The start to Super Wild Card Weekend wasn't the cleanest. There were many more penalty flags thrown (14) than highlight-reel plays, but the Bengals' offense couldn't be stopped. 

In their first meeting back in November, Joe Mixon rushed 30 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns while Burrow recorded season-lows in passing yards (148) and yards per attempt (5.1) in the 19-point win. The script was flipped this time around, as Burrow carried the offense with 244 passing yards and two touchdowns while Mixon rushed for just 48 yards on 17 carries. 

The passing game worked all afternoon. In fact, the Bengals punted just once in three quarters. They were scoring points on every drive, even if the majority of those were field goals that came when drives stalled in enemy territory. Rookie kicker Evan McPherson gets to be included as part of the offense in this case. He was the game's leading scorer with 14 points, as he converted on all four of his field goal attempts and both extra points. Finding a good kicker is tough, but Cincy is confident in its guy if the Bengals' season comes down to a kick. 

Why the Raiders lost

A lack of execution and some tough breaks are the reasons why the Raiders are headed home. 

The first half did not go according to plan for the Raiders. On their second drive of the game, Foster Moreau missed a block on Trey Hendrickson -- who strip-sacked Carr and gave the Bengals possession at the Raiders' 15-yard line. Later, Peyton Barber inexplicably fielded a kickoff and stepped out of bounds at his own two-yard line. Just before the halftime break, the Bengals also scored a touchdown which shouldn't have counted (more on that later.) Despite all of this, the Raiders found themselves down just seven points after two quarters of play. 

Unfortunately for the Raiders, the second half wasn't kind to them either. On the first drive of the third quarter, Hunter Renfrow dropped a pass on third-and-4, and Vegas was forced to punt. On the second drive, the Raiders racked up a total of three holding penalties. The first negated a 35-yard pickup by DeSean Jackson, while the final flag took the Raiders off the goal line, and eventually led to three points scored instead of what probably would have been seven points to cut the deficit to three. 

The Raiders then spent their final two drives trying to orchestrate a comeback. They had a chance to force overtime, but once again couldn't convert near the end zone. Vegas finished going 1-5 in the red zone.

Touchdown controversy

This game was decided by seven points, and the Bengals were gifted seven free points early on. Late in the first half, Burrow and Co. were attempting to extend their seven-point lead before the halftime break. On third-and-4, Burrow stepped up in the pocket, rolled right and fired a pass to Tyler Boyd in the back of the end zone for the second touchdown of the game.

Burrow was close to stepping out of bounds, but the officials came together and ruled he was in-bounds, and the result of the play was a touchdown. The problem is, that a clear whistle could be heard while the ball was in the air. Once that whistle is blown, the play should be dead. The officials did not address the errant whistle, but by rule, a touchdown should not have been awarded to Cincy. 

Turning point

This game came down to the final play. Pratt may never have to pay for drinks in Cincinnati ever again, as he stepped up with the game on the line and picked off Carr.

Play of the game

This play may get lost in the shuffle since it occurred while the Raiders were running no-huddle with the game on the line, but facing a third-and-17 after a sack, Carr connected with Darren Waller across the middle for a gain of 23 yards. Waller needed just one hand to reel it in! 

Quotable

What's next

The Bengals will be watching their TVs for the remainder of the weekend, as the lowest-remaining seed in the AFC will have to play the No. 1 seed Tennessee Titans in Nashville. If the AFC favorites in the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills win, the Bengals will be the team that travels to Music City next week. 

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Bengals now await the rest of the weekend's results to see who they will play in the divisional round. 

January 16, 2022, 12:52 AM
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Bengals hang on and win. Great season for the Raiders, who battled back from a lot of adversity to make the playoffs. 

January 16, 2022, 12:52 AM
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@Bengals via Twitter
January 16, 2022, 12:52 AM
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@Bengals via Twitter
January 16, 2022, 12:52 AM
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@Bengals via Twitter
January 16, 2022, 12:51 AM
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Pratt picks off Carr's pass, and the Bengals will win their first playoff game in 31 years. 

January 16, 2022, 12:51 AM
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@Bengals via Twitter
January 16, 2022, 12:50 AM
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Renfrow and Hilton tussle and pass is incomplete. Fourth and goal. 

January 16, 2022, 12:50 AM
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Bates nearly picks off Carr's second down pass for Jones. 

January 16, 2022, 12:49 AM
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@Raiders via Twitter
January 16, 2022, 12:49 AM
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Carr hits Jones for the first down. Carr spikes it with 29 seconds left and 9 yards away. 

January 16, 2022, 12:48 AM
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Moreau drops Carr's second down pass. Third and 10 coming up. 

January 16, 2022, 12:47 AM
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Raiders 19 yards away with 50 seconds left. 

January 16, 2022, 12:47 AM
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Wilson breaks up Carr's first down throw to Jacobs. 

January 16, 2022, 12:47 AM
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Carr comes through with a first down completion to Waller. 

January 16, 2022, 12:46 AM
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Big sack by B.J. Hill makes it third and long. 

January 16, 2022, 12:46 AM
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@Bengals via Twitter
January 16, 2022, 12:46 AM
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Jacobs gets a big catch and run AND a roughing-the-passer, so Raiders get 30 yards on first down. 

January 16, 2022, 12:45 AM
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Carr has 1:51 to travel 65 yards. No timeouts. 

January 16, 2022, 12:44 AM
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@Bengals via Twitter
January 16, 2022, 12:42 AM
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You can be critical of the Bengals play calls on that drive, specifically that second down run with Chase. Raiders going to get a chance to tie it up. 

January 16, 2022, 12:41 AM
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@Raiders via Twitter
January 16, 2022, 12:41 AM
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A completion short of the first down isn't terrible because it takes the clock down to two minutes. 

January 16, 2022, 12:40 AM
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Big third down here. Raiders shut down the Bengals' first two runs and Chase got a little banged up after that second-down run. 

January 16, 2022, 12:39 AM
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