By Arnie Leshin
Ah, Buffalo on Sunday morning, where the buddled-up frustrated fan base longs for a ride to the Super Bowl, where the snow made its way in all directions, where the temperatures dropped to 22 degrees at opening kickoff time.
Now envision is this where these 3rd-seeded Cincinnati Bengals wanted to test the elements and the hometown Bills, the No. 2-seed in this freezing, windy, and of course loud upstate New York stadium?
Of course not, but they did make themselves totally comfortable while at the same time making Buffalo miserable to the tune of a 27-10 whipping.
The whistle that called it quits provided the ending. While the guys from Cincinnati celebrated along with their fans able to get tickets for this sold-out game, Bills’ players offered congrats while their disappointed fans filed out into the slushy, icy snowy streets, and onto the crowded highways.
But for Cincinnati and its impressive quarterback Joe, Burrow, the next stop is at the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs, which cut short a Jacksonville Jaguars’ Saturday challenge in a 27-20 triumph and now sets up the second straight AFC championship between the two.
In 2021, the Bengals won 27-24 in overtime, but the next three times it was the Chiefs in front.
Both are playing well now, Jacksonville did not play complete games, but of all these wild card teams, the Bills just didn’t have it on this day. While Burrow was outstanding engineering his team’s offense, Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen had a woozy day.
He was pressured all game, made good on 25 of 42 throws for 265 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He ran the ball eight times for 26 yards.
Burrow, the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner while at LSU, had no problems. He showed confidence, avoided pressure while avoiding the wet, slippery turf, completed 23 for 36 tries with a pair of touchdowns, and ran in one of his own to put Cinci up 17-0 following a field goal just before halftime.
It rose to 24-0 before Buffalo made the scoreboard to the sounds of applause, the Bills tacked on a field goal late the third quarter, and the Bengals did likewise as the clock ticked down.
The Cincinnati rushing game totaled 172 yards, with Joe Mixon accounting for 20 of them for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Burrow added eight carries for 54 yards.
For their team it was arrive in this severe weather, do what you have to do without throwing snowballs, and leave the worse woes to the franchise you just eliminated.