Bengals

Bengals Make Improbable Run All the Way to Super Bowl LVI

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Super Bowl LVI will be held at Sofi Stadium in Inglewood, California. One team has not even been to the conference championship game since 1988 and that’s the Cincinnati Bengals. After Sunday’s NFC and AFC Championship thrillers we now know the matchup, the Bengals vs the Rams. So let’s talk about the team no one excepted to make it this far…. the Bengals. 

The Bengals last Super Bowl appearance was in 1988 vs the 49ers and they now have earned their respect around the league. From third-year head coach, Zac Taylor, who had a losing record in his first season (2-14), to first overall pick Joe Burrow getting injured in Week 11 of the 2020 season.

Taylor’s record after two seasons stood at 6-25-1 which was largely due to injuries by key players, including OT Jonah Williams and WR A.J. Green in 2019, and Burrow and Mixon in the 2020 season. But offensively in 2019, the Bengals rushing per game increased from 70.6 yards the first half of the season (59.5) to the second (130.1). They allowed 10 fewer sacks (29 to 19). You could see a glimpse of things starting to turn around for the team. Now they have come a long way. They exceeded a lot of exceptions. Most had them finishing second in the AFC North behind Baltimore or Pittsburgh but this wasn’t new to Joe Burrow. He has been numb to being counted out numerous times every since college. He doesn’t seem fazed by the spotlight or the criticism. 

For this game like many, Burrow, showed complete control of the game. He got a first down twice on 3rd and five in the first quarter and another big one in the second. One was a scramble for eight yards and the other was a nine yards pass to Tyler Boyd. He hit Tee Higgins over the middle for an eight-yard gain to help keep the drive alive. Moving the chains didn’t seem to be the problem for him as the team accumulated a total of 21 first downs while dominating time of possession, 35:56. 

A lot of people in the sports world had the Chiefs winning by a least a touchdown but that wasn’t the case as Mahomes struggled in the second half. The first three drives for Kansas City were touchdown, touchdown, touchdown which is hard for any opposing team to keep up. The Bengals defense seemed to not have an answer for the KC offensive skilled players. Coming out of halftime, Cincy made the necessary adjustments as Mahomes and his offense failed to score any points. The turning point in my opinion of the game was when B.J. Hill very unexpectedly caught an interception. Burrow immediately capitalized on the turnover with a touchdown and that’s what you have to do during playoff football, take advantage of opportunities.  Cincy scored on four of their last six possessions while KC scored on just 1 of 7 and that was only to tie the game. 

Burrow and the Bengals have a lot of homework to do as they have given up the most sacks of any team in the playoffs. On Super Bowl Sunday, they face Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and that Rams defensive front. If they are to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, Burrow and the Bengals are going to need one more of these games that have gotten them to this point. 

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