NFL Playoffs: Bengals beat Buffalo in the snow

The Cincinnati Bengals continued their attempt to return to the Super Bowl for a second straight season by defeating the Buffalo Bills 27-10 in the snow on Sunday.

In a week, Cincinnati will face the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. The Bengals beat the Chiefs 27-24 in overtime last year and reached Super Bowl LVI where Cincinnati lost to the Los Angeles Rams 23-20. The Bengals also defeated Kansas City 27-24 in a regular season game on December 4 in Cincinnati.

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Against Buffalo, the Bengals’ first two possessions ended with touchdown passes from quarterback Joe Burrow as Cincinnati advanced 79 and 72 yards into the end zone and a 14-0 lead before the end of the first quarter.

Burrow completed 23 of 36 passes for 242 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, and running back Joe Mixon had 105 yards and one touchdown on 20 rushing attempts as the Bengals hit 30 first downs.

“They were 13-1 at home in the playoffs, the best home win ratio in NFL history,” said Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor of the duel with the Bills in Buffalo. “I wanted to show that to the team because I knew what that would do to them. That wouldn’t scare them like, “Oh my god, we’re going into an environment where people don’t win.” For our guys, it was supposed to be the opposite, and it was.”

Cincinnati rushed for 176 yards Sunday while limiting the Bills to 63 yards on the ground and quarterback Josh Allen to 25 of 42 passes for 265 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.

The Bengals played the No. 2 defense on the NFL without three regular offensive players injured in their last four games, including former Alabama All-American Jonah Williams in left tackle.

Four players from Alabama high schools and colleges took the field during the Cincinnati-Buffalo game:

· Bengals cornerback Allan George (Andalucia) played but didn’t record any stats.

· Bills safety Jared Mayden (Alabama) was called game day inactive.

· Bengals kicker Evan McPherson (Fort Payne) made his five kicks, field goals from 28 and 20 yards, and three extra points.

· Bills cornerback Siran Neal (Eufaula, Jacksonville State) made two tackles.

Cam Taylor-Britt (Park Crossing) started at cornerback for the Bengals. Taylor-Britt made six tackles, intercepting a pass and stopping another. The interception was the first of the rookie’s career in the second round and ended Buffalo’s last possession. Taylor-Britt intercepted a deep pass from Allen at the Cincinnati 2, playing 1:02.

· Bengals offensive tackle Jonah Williams (Alabama) was ruled game day inactive. Williams suffered a dislocated kneecap in Cincinnati’s 24-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Jan. 15 in a Super Wild Card weekend game.

Cincinnati and Buffalo met in a regular-season game on Jan. 2, but that contest ended in the first quarter when Bill’s safety Damar Hamlin suffered a life-threatening on-field health crisis. Hamlin has recovered enough to take part in Sunday’s game.

With the Bills and Bengals one game fewer than the other teams in the league, NFL owners passed a resolution that would move the AFC Championship Game to a neutral venue if Kansas City and Buffalo made it to the contest. The reasoning? If the Bills had beaten the Bengals in the incomplete game, Buffalo would have seeded the postseason conference in place of the Chiefs due to their regular-season win over Kansas City.

However, no meeting between Cincinnati and Buffalo was scheduled for the second round. If the Bengals had won the canceled game, they would have had the same record as the Bills and held the head-to-head tiebreaker. But the regular season ended 13-3 for Buffalo and 12-4 for the Bengals, so the divisional playoff game was played at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.

The NFL also passed a resolution requiring a coin toss if Cincinnati and Baltimore met in the first round and could have been a tie if the Bengals lost the canceled game. The teams met in a weekend Super Wild Card game, but the coin toss was not required.

“Our goal was to play in Kansas City,” Taylor said. “It’s difficult because they have to formulate the plans for coin tosses and they have to formulate the plans for a neutral game and we just keep screwing it up for everyone. I hate it for all the people who have to endure all these logistical issues and we just keep screwing it up so I’m sorry.”

And the AFC championship game will be played on January 29 at 5:30 p.m. CST at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chiefs continued on Saturday by defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-20.

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt tackles Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt takes on Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs during an AFC playoff game on Sunday, January 22, 2023 at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.(AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.

Buffalo Bills cornerback Siran Neal tackles Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow

Buffalo Bills cornerback Siran Neal tackles Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow during an AFC playoff game Sunday, January 22, 2023 at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.(AP Photo/Seth Little)

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