Bengals overcome historically bad pass protection to reach AFC title game

By , Audacy Sports

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow might have needed a dip in an ice bath after his team's momentous win on Saturday.

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The second-year pro led the Bengals to their first AFC Championship Game since 1988 by defeating the Tennessee Titans, but Cincinnati's previously explosive offense was stymied for much of the game, with Burrow often facing heavy pressure on his dropbacks.

Burrow, drafted first overall out of LSU in 2020, was sacked a whopping nine times in the low-scoring affair. It was the most sacks by one team in a playoff game since the Kansas City Chiefs also racked up nine against the then-Houston Oilers in the Divisional Round in January 1994, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Leading the sack barrage for Tennessee was defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, who registered a game-high three sacks. Linebacker Harold Landry III and defensive end Denico Autry accounted for 1.5 each. Linebacker Bud Dupree had one sack and a tackle for a loss.

Despite the onslaught, Burrow managed to complete 27-of-38 pass attempts for 348 yards. Running back Joe Mixon punched in the team's lone touchdown, while kicker Evan McPherson accounted for four field goals and an extra point.

While it was clear that the Bengals' offensive line wasn't up to the task against the Titans' fierce pass rush, at least a couple of the sacks were also on Burrow. He appeared to hold onto the ball for too long at times, even after it had long become obvious that his offensive linemen were overmatched.

The Bengals will visit the winner of Sunday's Bills-Chiefs game in the AFC title game on Jan. 30.

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