It took them 31 years, but the Bengals can once again call themselves winners of a playoff game.
Joe Burrow threw two touchdown passes in the first half and the Bengals defense held the Raiders to field goals in the second half of a 26-19 win. The Bengals last won a playoff game on January 6, 1991 when Boomer Esiason threw two touchdowns in a win over the Oilers.
Esiason once took the Bengals to a Super Bowl and Saturday’s playoff game likely gave some of the team’s fans dreams of another trip with Burrow and wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase leading the way. Chase had nine catches for 116 yards and three carries for 23 yards to continue his remarkable rookie season. Burrow was 24-of-34 for 244 yards in his postseason debut and tight end C.J. Uzomah chipped in with six catches for 63 yards and a touchdown.
The last of Uzomah’s catches came on a third down just before the two minute warning, but he was stopped short of a first down and that meant the Raiders would get the ball back one more time. Derek Carr found Josh Jacobs for 15 yards on first down and Bengals defensive end Khalid Kareem was flagged for roughing the passer to move the ball all the way to the Raiders’ 35-yard-line.
Defensive tackle B.J. Hill came up with a sack a couple of plays later, but Carr and tight end Darren Waller hooked up for a 23-yard gain to keep hopes alive. Another first down came on a completion to Zay Jones and the Raiders had three shots from the nine after spiking the ball with 29 seconds left. Safety Jessie Bates broke up one pass and Carr fired wide to Hunter Renfrow to set up a final fourth down chance. Linebacker Germaine Pratt intercepted Carr’s pass at the goal line to end the game.
The Raiders were playing from behind after Uzomah’s first quarter touchdown was followed up by a lost fumble by quarterback Derek Carr on a Trey Hendrickson sack. They fell further behind when Burrow hit Tyler Boyd for a touchdown on a play that should have been dead after an official erroneously blew his whistle. The play should have been run again, but referee Jerome Boger’s crew botched the call and no assistance came from New York to ensure proper application of the rules.
Las Vegas was able to drive the ball inside the red zone twice in the fourth quarter, but a penalty forced one field goal and Carr’s third-down pass went off defensive end Sam Hubbard‘s helmet for an incompletion led to another one.
Carr was 29-of-54 for 310 yards and a touchdown in his postseason debut. Josh Jacobs ran 13 times for 83 yards and caught three passes for 29 yards, but had other good gains wiped out by a series of costly penalties by the Raiders offense. Those miscues helped bring an end to their season and we’ll now wait to see what that means for interim head coach Rich Bisaccia’s future with the team.
The Bengals will be waiting to find out who and where they will be playing next weekend because their playoff journey will last at least one more week.