Titans vs. Bengals score: Joe Burrow, Cincinnati headed to AFC title game after walk-off win over Tennessee

Fittingly, a defensive play decided the winner of the Bengals' 19-16 win over the Titans in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs. Logan Wilson's interception of Ryan Tannehill set up rookie Evan McPherson's 52-yard, game-winning field goal as time expired. The kick sealed the Bengals' first road playoff victory and the franchise's first trip to the AFC Championship Game since 1988. 

Wilson's pick gave the Bengals the ball on their own 47-yard-line with 20 seconds left. Joe Burrow, who was sacked a whopping nine times, stood tall while delivering a 19-yard completion to rookie phenom Ja'Marr Chase to put the Bengals in field goal range. The field goal was one of four on the day by McPherson, who also made kicks of 38, 45 and 54 yards. 

Cincinnati's defense came up with three interceptions of Tannehill, whose 33-yard touchdown pass to AJ Brown tied the score heading into the fourth quarter. But the Titans were shut out in the game's final stanza, as the Bengals' defense came up with a big stop on Derrick Henry on a fourth-and-1 play on the drive before Wilson's critical pick. 

Let's break down Saturday's huge Bengals win. 

Why the Bengals won 

Cincinnati's defense started and ended the game with interceptions of Tannehill, with both picks setting up McPherson field goals. In between, another pick by Mike Hilton negated a 45-yard run by D'Onta Foreman that got the ball to the Bengals' 9-yard line midway through the third quarter. 

The Bengals were nearly as effective against the Titans' rushing attack. Take away Foreman's big run, and the Titans rushed for 95 yards on 26 carries. The unit, which played without defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, held Henry to just 62 yards on 20 carries. 

Last but certainly not least, the Bengals' win was largely due to the play of their kicker and quarterback. McPherson became the first kicker to make at least four field goals in multiple playoff games in the same season. 

McPherson's kicks were the byproduct of clutch completions from Burrow, who threw for 348 yards despite being under heavy duress for the entire game. Per usual, Burrow had success getting the ball to Chase and second-year wideout Tee Higgins, who caught a combined 12 passes for 205 yards. 

Why the Titans lost 

Tennessee's offense was dreadful on possession downs, as it was 1 of 9 on third and fourth downs. In fact, the Titans' only touchdown of the second half was set up by Amani Hooker's interception of Burrow at the end of the third quarter. The Titans' only significant playmaker on offense was Brown, who caught five passes for 142 yards that included his game-tying touchdown. 

The Titans are probably second-guessing their decision to go for two after Henry's second-quarter touchdown. Henry was stopped short of the goal line on the Titans' two-point attempt, similarly to how the Bengals stopped him on fourth-and-1 late in the fourth quarter. Tennessee is probably second-guessing that decision, too, as it was in position to try a 53-yard field goal. The Titans' call on the play before Henry's run -- an RPO that was kept by Tannehill for no gain -- was also a head-scratcher. 

Tennessee squandered a winning performance from defensive coordinator Shane Bowen's defense. Led by Jeffrey Simmons' three sacks, seven Titans players recorded a sack of Burrow, who became the first player this season to be sacked five times in the first half. 

Turning point 

The Titans had momentum after rallying from 10 points down to tie the score entering the fourth quarter. Tennessee then seemed poised to take its first lead after forcing a Bengals punt to start the fourth. But Cincinnati's defense was able to turn the tide with two big stops. Cam Sample came up with the first big play when he corralled Tannehill for no gain on third-and-1 on Cincinnati's 35-yard line. On the next play, Wilson and Markus Bailey combined to stonewall Henry short of the sticks on fourth down. 

Play of the game 

Wilson's pick takes the cake as the game's biggest play. The Bengals linebacker plucked the ball out of the air after it was tipped by Eli Apple, who has enjoyed a career resurgence since coming to Cincinnati. The Bengals' defense ended the Titans' streak of three games without committing a turnover. 


"Well, looks like we're going to the AFC Championship Game." -- Burrow sharing what McPherson told holder/backup quarterback Brandon Allen before kicking Cincinnati into the AFC title game 

"I don't think Ryan or myself or anybody did enough to win the game. It's never going to be about one person, not as long as I'm the head coach. Which will be a while." -- Titans coach Mike Vrabel on Tennessee's season-ending loss 

Up next 

The Bengals will travel to play the winner of Sunday's game between the Chiefs and Bills in next Sunday's AFC title game. Cincinnati overcame a 14-0 deficit to post a 34-31 win over the Chiefs in Week 17. The Titans are going home after a divisional round loss for a second straight year. The Titans are now 0-3 all time in the playoffs as a No. 1 seed. 

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52-yard field goal attempt 


Run again. Time out, FG. 

January 23, 2022, 12:28 AM

Oh no! Tannehill throws his third interception of the game. 


Hendrickson appears to have suffered an upper body injury. Would be a massive loss if he can't go. 

January 23, 2022, 12:24 AM

Derrick Henry stumbled when he got to the outside there. I wonder if that had something to do with his foot injury. He usually gets strong turning the corner. This time he didn't. 


So, Bengals clearly made the right call by drafting Chase over Sewell. But safe to say they have to take a lineman in the first round of the '22 draft. 

January 23, 2022, 12:19 AM

NINE sacks for the Titans. This is unbelievable. 


Bengals learn from their last possession: Burrow hits Uzomah on a short curl for a first down on third-and-4. 

January 23, 2022, 12:15 AM

Huge stop for Bengals defense, led by Sam Hubbard. Neither defense is letting up. 

January 23, 2022, 12:10 AM

A.J. Brown is now up to 142 yards... 5 catches, 1 TD


True. Uzomah has been a non-factor today, which is surprising given his success this season and the fact that he could be a nice safety valve for Burrow in those situations. 

January 23, 2022, 12:03 AM

That's on Joe Burrow in a way too. You can't take a sack for a loss of 16 on third down while in field goal territory. Now the Bengals have to punt. 


Bengals needed to have someone run a much shorter route; Burrow had no chance. 

January 23, 2022, 12:02 AM

A.J. Brown is going to get credit for that touchdown -- and he should. But Tannehill put that ball exactly where it needed to be. Back shoulder, double coverage didn't matter. What a hookup. 


What a throw, what a catch. All of a sudden we have a tie game! 


People in the press box believe it will stand because of the original ruling. As for me? No idea. 


Ball hit the ground so going to be incomplete. 

January 22, 2022, 11:47 PM

If I was offensive coordinator Todd Downing -- who could be coaching for his job tonight -- I would have probably tried for the end zone on third and 9 instead of playing for 5 yards. 


Titans defense does their job yet again. Bengals go three and out after the interception. Let's see how Ryan Tannehill rebounds after his second pick of the game. 


That's two times Higgins loses the ball after getting hit hard. Titans counter by forcing a punt. 

January 22, 2022, 11:36 PM

And that's why you sign Mike Hilton. Deflects and picks off Ryan Tannehill. Hilton has been a playmaker since becoming a regular in Pittsburgh's backfield in 2017. 

January 22, 2022, 11:31 PM

WOW followed up by an interception of Ryan Tannehill in the red zone. Oh man. 


D'Onta Foreman breaks off a huge gain of 45 after subbing in for Derrick Henry. 


Great vision there by Mixon on the TD. Saw there was nothing but grass on the left side and made a great cut to get there. 

January 22, 2022, 11:23 PM

Burrow with one of his biggest plays of the game. Steps up in the pocket on third and 5 and gets the first down. The next play, Joe Mixon runs it in from 16 yards. 16-6 Bengals. 


You don't want to see David Long walking off gingerly if you're the Titans defense. Looks like he's OK, but something to keep an eye on. 


Higgins again. The Bengals' depth at WR really showing tonight. 

January 22, 2022, 11:16 PM
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