Los Angeles—A solid outing from quarterback Joe Burrow and a late defensive stand saw the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Las Vegas Raiders 26-19 on Saturday to earn their first NFL playoff victory in 31 years.
Burrow threw for two touchdowns as he piloted an efficient Bengals offense that scored on their first four drives.
Rookie kicker Evan McPherson made all four of his field goal attempts as the Bengals ended an eight-game playoff losing streak that stretched back to their victory over the now-defunct Houston Oilers in January of 1991.
“It feels great winning for us, for the city, for the organization. But, you know, we expected this. So it’s not going to be a big celebration like it was when we won the division,” Burrow told broadcaster NBC.
“We took care of business, on to the next round.”
Cincinnati will face either the Kansas City Chiefs or Buffalo Bills in the divisional round next weekend.
Josh Allen passed for five touchdowns as Buffalo thrashed the New England Patriots 47-17 in another AFC wild-card matchup.
Allen led the Bills to touchdown drives on their first seven possessions, a first for any team in an NFL playoff game in the Super Bowl era.
In Cincinnati, Burrow completed 24 of 34 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns as the Bengals held on for the win in front of a crowd of 66,200 at Paul Brown Stadium.
That included a controversial 10-yard TD strike to Tyler Boyd that Burrow unleashed just before going out of bounds.
A line judge erroneously blew his whistle to indicate Burrow was out of bounds, which should have immediately made the play dead.
The touchdown counted, however, whether or not the sound of the whistle caused Raiders defenders to pull up on the play.
Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia declined to criticize the officiating crew.
“I think there’s a lot of things that went on in the game both ways,” he said. “I’ve got enough problems with my job, I can’t do the officiating, too.”
Another questionable call—roughing the passer against the Bengals—helped the Raiders keep a potential game-tying drive alive in the final minutes.
Down 26-19 and needing a touchdown to force overtime, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr converted a third and 17-yard play and a third and 10 before the Bengals defense came up with three huge stops from within 10 yards of the goalline.
Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt intercepted Carr on fourth down to seal the victory.
Carr completed 29 of 54 passes for 310 yards and a touchdown, but the Raiders remained without a post-season victory since their triumph in the 2002 AFC Championship game.
The Raiders were also hurt by their own penalties as the curtain came down on a turbulent season that featured the resignation of coach Jon Gruden over an email scandal, the arrest of top receiver Henry Ruggs III over a deadly car crash and the release of cornerback Damon Arnette over a threatening viral video.
In Buffalo, Allen set a team playoff record with five touchdown passes, including two to Dawson Knox, while Devin Singletary ran for two scores in the first half. Singletary rushed for 81 yards and Allen added 66 yards rushing.
“We were ready to play,” said Allen. “A lot of preparation went into this game. We had a good week of practice and the guys made unbelievable plays on offense, defense, special teams.
“We kept the momentum going all day today. We are happy to come out with this win.”
Allen led the Bills to touchdown drives in each of their four first-half possessions as Buffalo built a 27-3 halftime lead.
The margin of defeat was the largest for New England in Bill Belichick’s coaching tenure, which began in 2000.
“We couldn’t keep up with them. We couldn’t do much of anything,” said Belichick. “A lot of plays didn’t go well. It is a long list.”
Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones went 24-of-38 passing for 232 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his first playoff start.