NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 17 Game Recap: Cincinnati Bengals 34, Kansas City Chiefs 31

Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) catches a pass and runs it for a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

In a truly wild finish, the Cincinnati Bengals were able to complete a comeback and notch a statement win against the Kansas City Chiefs by the final score of 34-31. The Bengals were in a hole early but never let the game get out of sight, and their star pairing of Joe Burrow at quarterback and Ja’Marr Chase at receiver were the primary drivers of the win.

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Cincinnati Bengals

Quarterback

Joe Burrow showed that his monster game last week and his PFF grade for the season is no fluke. With an offensive line under siege and in obvious passing situations all game, Burrow cooked once again, racking up 11.4 yards per attempt and 0.406 EPA per pass play. 

Dropbacks EPA per pass YPA Adjusted Comp Rate
Joe Burrow 45 0.406 11.2 83.80%
Patrick Mahomes 37 0.303 7.4 81.80%
Running Back

Joe Mixon only had 12 carries, notching 46 yards with 23 of them coming after contact. He moved the chains four times and had one explosive run. He was a much smaller factor in this game than he has been in previous contests, but he was still a useful contributor to the offense.

Receivers

Ja’Marr Chase set the all-time single-game rookie record in this game, to go along with his single-season record taken from former teammate Justin Jefferson. Chase was back to being completely unstoppable, winning in every conceivable way, and averaging almost 14 yards after the catch. Chase caught four of the five contested catches he had a shot at, something which hadn’t been the case in recent weeks.

Routes Run Targets Receptions YPRR
Ja'Marr Chase 44 12 11 6.05
Tee Higgins 44 5 3 1.41
Tyler Boyd 43 6 4 0.84
C.J. Uzomah 37 5 4 0.86
Joe Mixon 27 8 7 1.48
Offensive Line

A makeshift offensive line for the Bengals held up remarkably well considering. Burrow was under pressure 36.9% of his dropbacks, but none of their starting linemen had a pressure rate higher than 10% pending review. 

Defensive Line

Given the issues along the Chiefs offensive line, Cincinnati’s pass-rushers will have been hoping to make a bigger impact than they did. Trey Hendrickson managed a pass-rush win rate of 14.8% pending review. That’s a respectable mark, but not the game-changing impact he would have backed himself to make against a backup tackle and then guard moonlighting at the position.

Linebackers

Logan Wilson and Markus Bailey accounted for all of the snaps at linebacker for the Bengals. Wilson played all 58 snaps on defense while Bailey was out there for 45. Neither player was dominant, with Wilson in particular struggling in the run game. He missed a tackle, and the ones that he did make were made an average of 5.5 yards downfield.

Secondary

Cincinnati’s secondary did a very good job despite the big score the team gave up. Chidobe Awuzie allowed just 24 yards from seven targets, and though Eli Apple gave up 61 yards and a touchdown, his biggest play may have been a dropped interception of Mahomes that could have been a critical point in the game.

Player Coverage Snaps Targets Yards
Chidobe Awuzie 37 7 24
Eli Apple 37 5 61
Mike Hilton 32 4 65
Tre Flowers 10 3 7

Kansas City Chiefs

Quarterback

The takes were out in force heading into this game that the Bengals might be the team with the quarterback advantage. Both passers played well, but Patrick Mahomes was arguably out-duelled by Burrow. Mahomes didn’t have an interception but threw the ball into the hands of Bengals cornerbacks twice on his way to 7.4 yards per attempt compared with Burrow’s 11.2.

Running Backs

Darrel Williams was the primary bell cow for the Chiefs, with 11 more carries than any other player on the team. Williams rushed for 88 yards, 48 of which came after contact. Derrick Gore had just three carries but they went for 37 yards.

Receivers

Tyreek Hill was the primary target for Mahomes in the game, seeing 13 passes thrown his way. He caught nine of them, but they went for a total of just 40 yards as the Bengals defense did a good job of keeping things in front of them and making the Chiefs move the ball in smaller increments. Travis Kelce managed just 25 yards from seven targets, with an average depth of target just 5.4 yards down field.

Routes Run Targets Receptions YPRR
Tyreek Hill 32 9 6 1.25
Travis Kelce 34 7 5 0.74
Demarcus Robinson 24 2 2 1.38
Byron Pringle 20 4 3 1.75
Mecole Hardman 11 1 1 4.82
Offensive Line

Orlando Brown Jr. got hurt before the game, leaving Lucas Niang starting at left tackle. He lasted just five snaps before getting injured and leaving the game himself. Joe Thuney then had to kick out from guard to left tackle and held up reasonably well. Thuney gave up a pressure rate of 8.1% pending review. 

Defensive Line

Chris Jones looked like he could take over the game and torpedo the Cincinnati offense on paper, and while he certainly flashed that playmaking ability in the game, it never quite happened that way overall. Jones had a pass-rush win rate of 10.5% pending review, which is a solid number but half the rate he might have been expecting given the personnel involved.

Player Pass Rushes Win Rate
Chris Jones 38 10.50%
Frank Clark 36 2.80%
Melvin Ingram III 35 5.70%
Jarran Reed 31 6.50%
Linebackers

Nick Bolton and Willie Gay Jr. were each involved in some major negative plays in coverage for the Chiefs defense. Bolton was one of the players Chase embarrassed on a catch and run score. Bolton had the best shot at the rookie but a move left him grasping at air and undid the angles of the rest of the defense. Gay allowed four catches from four targets that went for 94 yards and a score.

Secondary

The Chiefs are one of the best defenses in the league at limiting yards to wide receivers, but not in this game. Charvarius Ward allowed 93 yards and a score from six targets. Three corners allowed at least 50 yards and were the most targeted players on the defense.

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