The mission was simple for Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday and the team delivered. The Bengals cruised to a 22-18 victory over the New England Patriots to move one step closer to the AFC North Division title.
With two games to go, Cincinnati looks poised to pull it off. After all, Burrow led the Bengals to a seventh straight win, tied for the longest active streak with the San Francisco 49ers. Cincinnati has lost just one of its last 10 games after starting the season with three losses in its first five games.
Burrow finished the game against the Patriots with 40 pass completions for 375 air yards, in addition to throwing three touchdown passes. It is his second-best performance of the season, following his 481 air yards against the Falcons earlier this season.
New England is missing a playoff berth with its record below .500. The Patriots suffered a fourth loss in their last five games.
However, the team came very close to pulling off the upset. After halftime, the Patriots turned a 22-point deficit into just four points but were unable to complete the comeback.
The Bengals quickly showed they were in control of the game. On the first offensive series, Burrow got things started when he hooked up with Tee Higgins for nine yards.
Then, a few minutes later, Burrow handed the ball off to Trenton Irwin on a 23-yard touchdown pass that gave Cincinnati a 12-0 lead. Kicker Evan McPherson then showed some signs of weakness by missing his conversions by one point.
The second quarter was also Cincinnati’s affair. After a McPherson field goal, Burrow came right back and joined Irwin in the end zone for the second time in the game. The lead at that point was 22 points.
Everything was going well for Burrow…so well that he was the only one who could fight himself. In the third quarter, one of his Burrow passes was intercepted by Marcus Jones and then returned 69 yards for the defensive touchdown.
This sequence by the Pats’ defense visibly restored some energy to Mac Jones and his troops. Jones led a long Patriots drive that ended with a five-yard touchdown pass to Kendrick Bourne. The two-point conversion failed, and New England was 10 points behind.
And what had to happen happened. With 6:02 left in the fourth quarter, Jakobi Meyers caught a 48-yard Jones pass for the touchdown. Scotty Washington first hit this pass and then dropped it, before Meyers caught the ball before it hit the ground at the entrance to the end zone.
Then, with less than two minutes to play, the Patriots got within five yards of the end zone. Raymond Stevenson, however, fumbled the ball loose and the Bengals took advantage of the opportunity to regain possession. As a result, they were able to maintain their lead.
The Bengals will face two good tests to close out the season. First, they will face the top of the U.S. Association, the Buffalo Bills, before finishing the season against their division rivals, the Baltimore Ravens. Both games will be important in the title race, both in the association and in the division.
Ravens clinch playoff berth
As head coach John Harbaugh was discussing the Baltimore Ravens’ victory over the Atlanta Falcons, a television in the back of the room was showing the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the New England Patriots.
When the Bengals confirmed their victory, Harbaugh and his Ravens secured a playoff berth.
Tyler Huntley threw a first-half touchdown pass and the Ravens beat the Falcons 17-9 on Saturday.
The Ravens (10-5) won’t have to worry about repeating what happened last season when quarterback Lamar Jackson was injured and the team lost its final six games to miss the playoffs.
However, the Bengals’ win allowed them to maintain a one-game lead over the Ravens at the top of the AFC North Division.
The Ravens won for the second time in three games since Jackson’s knee injury.
Gus Edwards rushed for 99 yards and JK Dobbins added 59 yards on the ground for the Ravens. Huntley threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson, the first reception for a major by a receiver for the team since Week 3 action.
“It was good soccer by the Ravens,” said slotback Mark Andrews. Kudos to the defense, who played a very good game. When the conditions are cold like today and you come out victorious, it’s a great win. ”
Huntley carried the ball into the end zone himself on the two-point conversion that gave the Ravens a 14-0 lead. Their defense has only allowed more than 14 points once since early November.
The Falcons (5-10), who were just one game behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers atop the NA South Division, suffered a fourth straight loss. They are now eliminated.
Huntley hooked up with Sammy Watkins for a 40-yard gain and threw a 36-yard pass to Andrews on two separate offensive runs. These ended with a field goal to give the Ravens a 6-0 lead.
The Falcons rolled the dice on fourth down near midfield and quarterback Desmond Ridder spotted Drake London for a 20-yard gain, but lost the ball to allow the Ravens to regain possession.
“I thought I had everything I could to secure the ball. I put both hands on the ball, London said. But it’s Marlon Humphrey, one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. He hit the ball. ”
The Ravens ran with the ball 11 straight plays on the next offensive series, which ended with a Huntley touchdown pass.
Baltimore got some help late in the first half. On the first drive on goal, Ridder was assessed a penalty for deliberately getting rid of the ball and the Falcons had to settle for a score.
On the first possession of the second half, a penalty on receiver Olamide Zaccheaus nullified a Cordarrelle Patterson touchdown and the Falcons still had to attempt a field goal.
Leading 17-6 in the final quarter, the Ravens defense shut the door on the Falcons when four consecutive runs inside the five-yard line were stopped before reaching the end zone.