Kansas City rallied from a 14-3 deficit, scoring touchdowns on three consecutive complete drives (excluding one with 49 seconds left in the first half) to take a 24-17 lead while holding the Bengals to a field goal in that span.
After Cincinnati settled for another field goal with 14:47 left to trim the deficit, the Chiefs still had the momentum until Germaine Pratt stripped the ball out of Travis Kelce’s hands at the end of a 19-yard catch to the Kansas City 45-yard line. Pratt recovered the fumble, and the Bengals drove down for the go-ahead touchdown.
“That’s in my mindset, trying to get the turnover every week,” Pratt said. “We try to find a way to get the ball, try to create a turnover, trying to win games, so that’s my mindset. … When you run to the ball, good things happen.”
Joseph Ossai then made the game-sealing play with a third-down sack on Patrick Mahomes to force a 55-yard field goal attempt, which Harrison Butker missed on what would be the final drive for the Chiefs with 3:19 left.
2. Offense finished strong
The Bengals were flying on offense early, scoring touchdowns on their first two drives – a Burrow scramble and Higgins catch and dive to the goal line. However, a couple missed opportunities caused them to settle for field goals their first two drives of the second half while the Chiefs rallied with touchdowns.
Tyler Boyd dropped an open touchdown on third down midway through the third quarter when the Bengals settled for a 36-yard field goal from McPherson, and Jonah Williams cost a chance at a fourth-and-1 decision when he was flagged as an ineligible receiver on a downfield pass that fell incomplete. That led to a 41-yard field goal.
After Pratt’s takeaway, though, the offense picked up again. Burrow moved the offense 53 yards on 10 plays for the go-ahead score, capping it with an 8-yard pass to Chris Evans on just the second snap Evans saw action Sunday, and when the Bengals got the ball after the missed field goal, he connected with Tee Higgins on a crucial third-and-11 pass for 14 yards with 1:53 left that allowed Cincinnati to kneel out the clock.
“Everybody in this locker room manifests their future, and it happens,” Higgins said. “I dreamed about making plays like that when I was younger to now, I still dream about making plays like that. It means a lot to make plays like that.”
3. Keeping Mahomes in check
The Bengals held Mahomes to his lowest passing total of the season with just 223 yards, and Kelce finished with just 54 yards on four catches.
Sam Hubbard also recorded a sack on Mahomes, and Trey Hendrickson had three quarterback hits.
Mahomes had thrown for 300 yards or more in six straight games and his lowest passing total prior to Sunday came in a win over the Chargers when he had 235 yards passing. He was leading the league with 3,585 yards and 29 touchdowns coming into the game and owns the record as the quarterback to reach 10,000 yards passing the quickest, in just 34 games.
“That’s the defense, that’s the defensive coordinator, that’s the DBs strapping up and that’s the D-line,” Ossai said. “That embodies us. We play team defense, and it took everybody doing their job to get that, and that’s really awesome.”
4. Chase returns, Perine steps up again
Cincinnati was without Joe Mixon for a second straight game because of a concussion, but Samaje Perine enjoyed his best game as a Bengal and the offense was helped by the return of Ja’Marr Chase, who made his presence known in his first game since Week 7.
Chase missed four games with a fracture hip, but showed no rust while catching seven passes for 97 yards, including a long of 40 yards on which he leaped over safety Jaylen Watson that took the Bengals to the red zone late in the second quarter. The Bengals ended up turning the ball over on downs when the Chiefs snuffed out a jet sweep to Trent Taylor.
Perine rushed for 106 yards on 21 carries, added 49 yards receiving on six catches and had a key block on Burrow’s rushing touchdown.
“I’m just so happy he’s taken this opportunity and done what he’s done,” Burrow said. “He’s one of those guys that you love being around. He brings the juice, just like every win, but everybody knows there’s a lot of room to improve and we have the guys to go do that.”
5. Burrow making MVP case
Burrow completed 72 percent of his passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 46 yards and one touchdown, and his teammates say he is playing like a league MVP. It’s his fifth game completing more than 70 percent of his passes in the last seven contests.
The third-year quarterback said he hasn’t paid attention to the MVP chatter. He was more inclined to praise the players around him. He was helped Sunday by an offensive line that gave him tons of time in the pocket, including on the third-and-11 play he held onto long enough for Higgins to get open.
“When you have that kind of time in the pocket, it’s hard not to find somebody open,” Burrow said. “What this has also done is give us more off-schedule opportunities. I’m starting to be able to run the ball more now. If something’s not open, I still have time to find an escape lane and get out of the pocket. I can’t say enough about those guys.”
Burrow said Sunday was a chance to start separating themselves, but the Bengals still have five games to play.
“It’s December,” Burrow said. “This is when we turn it up. That’s all there is to say about it. We’re going back to practice, keep getting better, correct the mistakes we’ve made and move on.”
Browns at Bengals, 1 p.m., Ch. 7, 12; 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7