Game Thread: Burrow, Mixon power Bengals to 27-10 lead
The teams are playing for a chance at advancing to the Super Bowl.
Live updates will be provided here. Original story is below.
UPDATE 7:30 4Q: The Bills go for it on fourth down from the Bengals 16. Josh Allen dances in the pocket, can’t find anyone, gets pressure from defensive end Sam Hubbard and launches a pass for Gabe Davis that’s swatted away by cornerback Eli Apple.
Bengals nickel back Mike Hilton made several plays on the drive, including a would-be fumble against Josh Allen that was later overturned and ruled a forward pass.
The Bengals maintain their 27-10 lead.
UPDATE 11:22 4Q: The Bengals extent the lead over the Bills to 27-10 after Evan McPherson’s second field goal of the game. Cincinnati has scored on five of seven total possessions.
UPDATE: 1:34 3Q: The Bengals hammer it in from a yard out. Running back Joe Mixon gets the score, and Cincinnati extends the lead to 24-10.
The Bills are playing strong safety Jaquan Johnson (#4) at free safety due to an injury to starter Dean Marlowe (see below). The Bengals targeted Johnson on several plays including a third-and-one toss to Joe Mixon where Johnson got washed up in a swell of pulling offensive linemen.
Earlier in the drive, Burrow converted a third-and-ten at the Buffalo 27 with a crossing route to a wide open Hayden Hurst in a play that likely frustrated Buffalo fans. Hurst hurdled a defender to get the first down.
Burrow is 21/32 for 221 yards and two touchdowns. He has also rushed three times for 32 yards.
Hurst leads all Bengals receivers in receptions (5) and yards (59). He scored a second-quarter touchdown.
Burrow suffered a hit to his legs in the third quarter. It’s the same leg on which Burrow had ACL surgery following a tear his rookie year. Burrow stayed in the game but did not immediately appear able to put full pressure on the leg. He does not have an injury designation.
UPDATE 7:40 3Q: The Bills march down the field on their first drive of the third quarter but must settle for a field goal to make it 17-10 Bengals.
Josh Allen is doing what he does best, playing backyard football by scrambling out of the pocket and using his strong arm to find receivers downfield. The Bills got the ground game moving early in the drive with Devon Singletary runs of six and seven yards but gave up on it after a two-yard loss on first-and-goal.
UPDATE: Bills free safety Dean Marlowe has been ruled out for the test of the game with a groin injury.
Marlowe’s backup, Jared Mayden, is also out for the game. The third and fourth players at the position are on injured reserve, likely forcing the Bills to play backup strong safety Jaquan Johnson or one of their backup cornerbacks.
Bills star wide receiver Stefon Diggs also suffered an injury. He left the game at the beginning of the third quarter after crashing into a photographer and a wall out of bounds. He returned after two plays out.
HALFTIME: The Bengals lead the Bills 17-7 at halftime after stopping a Bills drive at the Cincinnati 41 yard line thanks to pressure from across the defensive line.
The Bengals lead in total yards (277-135), first downs (18-8) and time of possession (17:57-12:04).
Neither team has a turnover.
Cincinnati’s penchant for playing well on offense for only a half, a trend that goes back several games, will be tested after the break.
UPDATE: 1:55 2Q: Joe Burrow appeared to connect with Ja’Marr Chase on a 10-yard strike to put the Bengals up 21-7, but after review, the officials determined he lost control of the ball going to the ground. (Some disagree.)
An Evan McPherson field goal puts the Bengals up 17-7.
Burrow is 15/22 for 163 yards and two touchdowns with a passer rating of 120.1.
The Bengals continue to exploit the Bills drop two-high safety looks with Burrow connections in the soft middle of the field and Joe Mixon/Samaje Perine runs up the middle.
Burrow is showing strong pocket presence, and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan is sticking with the quick game, including a third-down conversion to Ja’Marr Chase where he was singled-covered in the red zone.
The CBS broadcast reports Bengals center Ted Karras is dealing with a right knee injury and is playing through it. The Bengals are already down three starters on the offensive line. Karras is a team captain.
UPDATE 7:25 2Q: The Bills get on the board after a 15-play, 75 yard drive after a Josh Allen sneak at the goal line. 14-7 Bengals.
The Bills spread the Bengals out and executed several run-pass option plays, including a third-down conversion to wide receiver Cole Beasley.
Deep threat wide receiver Gabe Davis hauled in a comeback route against zone coverage to get the Bills across midfield.
The Bills converted a fourth-down at the Cincinnati 23 yard line with another Allen sneak.
UPDATE End 1Q: The Bills go three-and-out on their second drive of the game after Josh Allen is nearly sacked on third down by defensive end Trey Hendrickson.
Hendrickson is coming back from a wrist injury and played a productive 18 snaps against Baltimore last week.
The Bengals are forced to punt on their next possession. The Bengals bring pressure on first down, and Allen is brought to the ground by safety Vonn Bell for a three-yard loss to end the quarter.
The Bills had one first down, eigh ttotal plays and 24 yards of offense in the first quarter. The Bengals tallied 160 yards, 10 first downs and 22 plays.
UPDATE 3:47 2Q: The Bengals dial up a decoy wide-receiver screen on third down from the Bills’ 15 yard line, and Joe Burrow finds tight end Hayden Hurst in the end zone for the score. Bengals up 14-0.
Joe Burrow drew an offsides call to convert a third-and-four at the Bills 24 yardline. He is 9-9 for 105 yards and two touchdowns. He’s completed ball to six different receivers.
Joe Mixon began the drive with two rushes, including a 16-yard run where right tackle Hakeem Adeniji, filling in the last three weeks for La’el Collins, pulled to open the hole. He rushed for six yards two plays later to gain a first down and added a five-yard catch to get the Bengals into the red zone.
UPDATE 10:12 1Q: The Bills’ first drive stalls after four plays on a Josh Allen overthrow to wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Allen had pressure in his face from Bengals defensive end Joseph Ossai, who appeared to hit Allen’s arm during the throw. Linebacker Germaine Pratt blitzed up the middle and occupied the Bills’ running back, who couldn’t leak out for a checkdown.
UPDATE 11:40 1Q: The Bengals get on the board after a perfect opening drive. Joe Burrow steps away from the pressure and finds wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase in the soft spot vacated by two deep Bills safeties, and Chase walks into the end zone. 7-0 Bengals.
Burrow did the same finding wide receiver Tyler Boyd earlier in the dive for 23 yards. Perhaps most encouraging as a 10-yard rush from running back Joe Mixon behind a patchwork Bengals offensive line.
Burrow went 4-4 for 65 yards and the touchdown. The Bengals are 9-0 this season when they score a touchdown in the first quarter, according to The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr.
CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The Bengals take on the Bills at Highmark Stadium Sunday at 3 p.m. with everything on the line.
The Bengals are 6-point underdogs with an o/u of 49 points in Orchard Park, New York.
The Associated Press reports Bills safety Damar Hamlin is in attendance.
The Bengals are riding a nine-game winning streak. The Bills are unbeaten in their last eight games.
Joe Burrow is the most accurate quarterback with at least 100 attempts in NFL playoff history.
If the Bengals win Sunday, head coach Zac Taylor would be among 12 coaches in modern NFL history to win at least five of their first six playoff game. Burrow’s five wins would be the most by a former No.1 overall pick in his first three seasons.
Josh Allen is a big-armed passer but can be errant at times. The Bills, the second-highest scoring offense in the NFL (28.8ppg), also lead the league in drives that end in a score and drives that end in a turnover.
During the first five games of the Bills’ winning streak, Allen threw just three interceptions; during the last three games, he’s thrown five. Burrow, meanwhile, has not thrown an interception in his last three games.
The Bengals’ offense ranks seventh in the NFL (26ppg).
It’s 34 degrees in Orchard Park, and at least an inch of snow is expected. When kickoff temperature is below 35 degrees, Joe Burrow is undefeated in his career (6-0), completing 72.5 percent of his passes, averaging 321 yards per game with 14 touchdowns and five interceptions.
By contrast, wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase has said he’s never played a game in the snow.
Cincinnati will start two backups on the offensive line after injuries to guard Alex Cappa and tackle Jonah Williams. The Bengals ranked last in NFL rushing efficiency over their last three weeks and appear to have largely given up on the running game in favor of the quick game and RPO. Joe Burrow had just one five-step drop after Williams went down against the Ravens last week (he was sacked.)
The Bills will likely try to get pressure with four, including from defensive end Gregory Rousseau, and drop seven into heavy zone coverage.
Bengals cornerback Tre Flowers, the team’s sixth defensive back in dime coverage, is also out with hamstring. That could be problematic against a talented Bills receiving corp that includes Stefon Diggs, who tallied 1,429 yards and 11 TDs this season, and Gabe Davis, a deep threat with 7 TDs of his own. Davis brought in six catches for 113 yards and one score against Miami last week. Rookie Khalil Shakir is another player to watch; he caught three balls for 51 yards against Miami.
The Bengals will have to rely on their stout run defense (seventh in the NFL) and talented linebacking tandem of Logan Wilson and Germaine Pratt. Wilson led the team with 123 tackles in the regular season and notched 10 stops against the Ravens last week.
Cincinnati will also have to find a way to lure Allen into his trademark turnovers. The Bengals rode turnover success during the playoff run last year, and safety Jessie Bates could factor again against Buffalo. He had four interceptions in 2022 as well as eight pass breakups.
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