Joe Burrow passed for 244 yards and two first half touchdowns as the Cincinnati Bengals ended a 31-year postseason losing streak with a 26-19 victory over the visiting Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday afternoon.
Evan McPherson kicked four field goals for the Bengals.
Cincinnati advanced out of the opening round of the playoffs for the first time since the 1990 season.
“It’s a great win for us, for the city and the organization, but, you know, we expected this. So, it’s not gonna be a big celebration like it was when we won the division,” Burrow said. “We took care of business. Now it’s on to the next round.”
Cincinnati led by 10 points after McPherson’s fourth field goal, a 28-yarder, with 6:46 to play.
The Raiders pulled to within 26-19 on the ensuing drive on Daniel Carlson’s 28-yard field goal - his fourth of the game as well - with 3:34 remaining. Las Vegas converted a huge fourth-and-5 from its own 44-yard line to keep the drive.
The Bengals could not run out the clock, giving Las Vegas the ball at its own 35 with 1:51 to play. The Raiders moved to the Cincinnati nine-yard line but failed to get the tying score on four snaps, the final one ending with an interception by the Bengals’ Germaine Pratt with 12 seconds to play.
Derek Carr threw for 310 yards and a touchdown for Las Vegas, completing passes to seven different receivers. Josh Jacobs rushed for 83 yards on 13 carries.
The Raiders, making their first playoff appearance since 2016, have not recorded a postseason victory since the 2002 season.
“The Bengals beat us today - we came up short today,” Carr said. “Honestly, I’m just trying to hold back emotion because I didn’t plan on that happening. You know, I didn’t expect it to have to go that way. I just felt so confident in the game plan. So, it’s just hard right now. But looking at the season, you definitely have some pieces there. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.”
Las Vegas got on the board on its opening drive, moving 47 yards to Carlson’s 47-yard field goal with 9:23 to play in the first quarter. Cincinnati answered with Burrow’s 7-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Uzomah and a 7-3 lead with 4:31 left in the quarter.
On the ensuing possession, Carr fumbled while being sacked from behind by the Bengals’ Trey Hendrickson, with the loose ball picked up by Larry Ogunjobi and returned to the Las Vegas 15-yard line. Cincinnati settled for a 31-yard field goal by McPherson that expanded its advantage to 10-3.
The teams traded field goals early in the second quarter, with McPherson hitting from 30 yards at the 10:20 mark and Carlson converting from 28 yards out with 7:55 to play until halftime.
Burrow added to the Bengals’ lead with a scrambling, 10-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd with 1:51 left in the half. That left plenty of time for Carr, who drove to a 14-yard scoring pass to Zay Jones to pull the Raiders to within 20-13 at the break.
The only scoring in the third quarter was a 43-yard field goal by McPherson on the Bengals’ opening drive of the half that pushed their lead to 23-13.
Carlson hit from 34 yards away on the second play of the fourth quarter to bring the Raiders within a touchdown, 23-16.
In Saturday's other game, Josh Allen passed for 308 yards and five touchdowns as the third-seeded Buffalo Bills dominated the visiting New England Patriots 47-17 in an AFC wildcard matchup on Saturday night in Orchard Park, New York
Allen (21-of-25 passing) guided the Bills to touchdown drives on their first seven possessions, a first for any team in a postseason game in the Super Bowl era. Devin Singletary rushed for 81 yards and two touchdowns for the Bills.
The Bills became the first playoff team since at least 1950 to not punt or attempt a field goal and go the full game without a turnover.
Allen added 66 yards rushing on six rushes. He became the third player in NFL playoff history to throw for five or more touchdowns while tossing fewer than five imcompletions and no interceptions.
“We were ready to play. A lot of preparation went into this one,” Allen told the CBS broadcast in a postgame interview. “We just kept the momentum rolling all day today.”
Buffalo will face either Kansas City or Cincinnati in the divisional round next weekend.
Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones went 24-of-38 passing for 232 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his first playoff start. Kendrick Bourne had seven catches for a team-high 77 yards and two scores for New England.
The Patriots were playing their first playoff game without Tom Brady at quarterback since a loss at Jacksonville in the wildcard round on January third, 1999.
It was the first playoff meeting between the AFC East rivals since a then-Boston Patriots team earned a 26-8 win at War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo on December 28th, 1963, in a divisional round game. The teams split their two regular season meetings this season.
“It’s disappointing, especially when there’s no more games after this,” Patriots linebacker Matt Judon said. “Everything was kind of frustrating, honestly. ... When they hitting on all phases ... that’s very hard to stop a team. It was their night tonight.”
Allen led the Bills to touchdown drives in each of their four first half possessions as Buffalo built a 27-3 halftime lead. It marked the largest halftime deficit for the Patriots in coach Bill Belichick’s tenure.
Jones was intercepted on the Patriots’ opening drive of the second half. On the next drive, Allen hit Emmanuel Sanders on a 34-yard bomb for another touchdown to make it 33-3 at the 8:48 mark of the third.
With the game already in hand, Jones tossed a three-yard pass to Bourne for the QB’s first postseason touchdown with 4:12 to go in the third.
Allen added a 19-yard scoring pass to Gabriel Davis and a one-yard touchdown toss to offensive lineman Tommy Doyle in the fourth quarter as the Bills ran up the score. Jones added another four-yard toss to Bourne late in the fourth.
Buffalo marched 70 yards on nine plays on the game’s opening drive to score as Allen found Dawson Knox for an eight-yard touchdown with 9:45 left in the first quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Jones drove the Patriots to the Bills’ 34-yard-line before his pass intended for wideout Nelson Agholor was intercepted by Micah Hyde in the end zone for a touchdown.
Allen and Knox connected again for an 11-yard touchdown with 40 seconds left in the quarter to make it 14-0.
Singletary had a pair of touchdown rushes in the second quarter, scoring on a three-yard rush with 7:20 on the clock and again on a 16-yard scamper with 1:53 remaining.
Nick Folk’s 44-yard field goal six seconds before halftime put New England on the board.