NFL playoffs: Bengals hold off Raiders, finally get postseason victory

Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd (83) celebrates with teammates Joe Mixon (28) and Ja'Marr Chase after making a touchdown catch.
Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd (83) celebrates with teammates Joe Mixon (28) and Ja’Marr Chase after making a 10-yard second-quarter touchdown catch. Cincinnati beat Las Vegas 26-19.
(Emilee Chinn / Associated Press)

Joe Burrow led an efficient offense that scored on six drives, including on two touchdown passes from him, and rookie Evan McPherson made four field goals as the Cincinnati Bengals finally advanced in the playoffs with a 26-19 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders in Saturday’s wild-card game.

It was a win three decades in the making for the Bengals (11-7). After going from worst to first in the AFC North with a generally young roster, they ended an embarrassingly long postseason drought that spanned 31 years and eight consecutive defeats.

“Who Dey” indeed.

Coach Zac Taylor said game balls were going to team owner Mike Brown and to the city itself.


“Some of them might not understand the significance of what happened today,” he said of his players. “The city can finally enjoy this team and take the pressure off of the last 31 years. Today was significant for a lot of people.”

Cincinnati’s next opponent will depend on results in the other two AFC wild-card games this weekend.

“It’s going to be fun tomorrow to watch the games knowing we have the win,” said Burrow, who was the top overall selection in the 2020 NFL draft and led the league in completion percentage this season. He went 24 for 34 for 244 yards Saturday.

The Bengals had to survive a Raiders drive to the nine-yard line, but Derek Carr was intercepted on fourth down by linebacker Germaine Pratt.

Cincinnati linebacker Germaine Pratt (57) is congratulated by teammates after intercepting a pass late in the game.
Cincinnati linebacker Germaine Pratt (57) is congratulated by teammates after making the clinching interception late in the game.
(AJ Mast / Associated Press)

“I think Germaine has made a really big step this year,” Taylor said. “I thought last year was a good step. I think this year he has made a tremendous jump. Super reliable for us.”


Helped by some problematic officiating by Jerome Boger’s crew that might have allowed Burrow’s touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd to count when it shouldn’t have, the Bengals also extended a lengthy postseason drought for the Raiders (10-8).

Las Vegas, which won its final four games to squeeze into the playoffs, last won in the postseason in the 2002 AFC championship game.

Cincinnati made it four for four on scoring drives late in the first half, though with some controversy. Burrow rolled right to avoid pressure and threw from close to the sideline. Play continued despite an erroneous whistle by an official, who thought Burrow stepped out of bounds. Boyd caught the 10-yard pass in the back of the end zone for a 20-6 lead. The play counted, to protests from the Raiders, who cited the rule that the ball should be returned to the previous spot.

And Las Vegas lost by seven points.

Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow (9) looks to pass during the second half Jan. 15, 2022.
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow passed for 244 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
(AJ Mast / Associated Press)

“It’s a great win for us, for the city, for the organization,” Burrow said. “But we expected this, so it’s not going to be a big celebration like it was when we won the division. We took care of business. It’s on to the next round.”

Said Raiders interim coach Rich Bisaccia: “We just ran out of time today. We did some uncharacteristic things with some penalties and gave up some drives and didn’t capitalize when we had it in the red zone at times. So it just didn’t go our way today.”


After Daniel Carlson, the NFL’s top scorer, made a 47-yard field goal to get Las Vegas started off well on the opening possession, the Bengals countered. And kept scoring, though mostly field goals. Burrow took Cincinnati 75 yards in 10 plays, connecting with C.J. Uzomah in the front of the end zone on third down from the seven to make it 7-3. Burrow threw for 65 yards on the drive, and Uzomah celebrated his score with the Ickey Shuffle.

Then the Bengals’ defense stepped up with its sacks leader, Trey Hendrickson, stripping Carr of the ball and defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi rumbling 11 yards with it to the Raiders’ 10. But Las Vegas held and McPherson made a 31-yard field goal.

The mistakes kept coming for the visitors. Peyton Barber touched a botched kickoff heading out of bounds at the Raiders’ two, putting Las Vegas in a hole it couldn’t climb from when Carr was sacked at his one. All-Pro punter A.J. Cole got off a 58-yarder, but Trent Taylor’s 14-yard return set up Cincinnati once more in prime position.

All-Pro Rams Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and Cooper Kupp ready to test their mettle in NFC wild-card home game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Jan. 14, 2022

Ja’Marr Chase, who had nine receptions for 116 yards, kept victimizing the Raiders, his 38-yard reception getting the Bengals to the six before they stalled. McPherson made a 30-yarder for a 13-3 lead. It soon was 13-6 as the Raiders did two things right at last: Josh Jacobs runs of 14 and 35 yards that led to Carlson’s 28-yard field goal.

The Raiders’ impressive two-minute drill covering 80 yards, capped by Carr’s 14-yard pass to Zay Jones with 13 seconds remaining in the second quarter, made it 20-13. McPherson, a fifth-round draft pick in April, made two more second-half field goals, as did Carlson.

The Raiders' Zay Jones makes a touchdown catch against the Bengals' Eli Apple during the first half Jan. 15, 2022.
Raiders wide receiver Zay Jones makes a 14-yard touchdown catch against Bengals cornerback Eli Apple late in the second quarter.
(AJ Mast / Associated Press)

The crowd of 66,277 fans hungry for some playoff gold had to hold their breath before getting it.


Raiders: Linebacker Divine Deablo (concussion) left in the second quarter moments after being beaten by Uzomah on a 29-yard pass. Defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson hurt his foot. Cornerback Brandon Facyson left because of a concussion.

Bengals: Defensive tackle Mike Daniels injured his groin in the first quarter and did not return. Ogunjobi was carted off early in the third quarter with a foot injury. Hendrickson went out because of a concussion in the third quarter.

Up next

The Raiders head home to contemplate missed opportunities.

The Bengals move into the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.