Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throws from the pocket as the offensive line blocks in the third quarter during a Week 17 NFL game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 34-31. With the win the, the Cincinnati Bengals won the AFC North division and advance to the NFL playoffs.Kansas City Chiefs At Cincinnati Bengals Jan 2

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Win over Chiefs has Bengals packing confidence entering AFC Championship

Joe Burrow took a beating at Tennessee on Saturday. He was still smiling when the Bengals landed in Cincinnati with a victory in the divisional playoffs over the No. 1-seeded Titans.

“As of right now, that’s what makes him special. And we’re not going to take that away from him,” Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said of Burrow’s bravado in the pocket bringing big plays at the risk of his own well-being.

A trip to Kansas City for the AFC Championship awaits, and the Bengals are decided underdogs. Burrow was sacked nine times by the Titans and knows the Chiefs well from their Jan. 2 visit from the reigning AFC champs, a 34-31 decision in which Burrow passed for 446 yards and four touchdowns. He was sacked four times.

“I do like the idea of having Joe playing a team the second time around,” Callahan said Monday. “He knows the technique, the players, the strengths and the weaknesses. It’s like a division game for us.”

Burrow has been sacked multiple times in every game since Halloween and has gone down in the arms of defenders 62 times this season, including the playoffs.

Callahan said Burrow is as close to unflappable as it gets at the position, emphatically bouncing back to his feet to let defenders and teammates know he’s back for more. His focus and leadership are behind the Bengals’ renaissance as far as Callahan is concerned.

“He’s never satisfied. He wants to win championships,” he said.

If there was any doubt about whether a second shootout this month with the Chiefs was in store Sunday, it was erased in the divisional playoff finale when the Chiefs won a 42-36 thriller over the Buffalo Bills in overtime. Kansas City is 11-1 since Oct. 24, with the Bengals responsible for the lone blemish.

Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo said he settled his heartburn Saturday against the Titans and chose to dwell on the relief that he didn’t have to stop Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes this week.

“I knew we didn’t have to play both of them,” Anarumo said, allowing Kansas City put up 42 points for the second consecutive playoff game. “We can’t allow them to score touchdowns — hold them to field goals.”

And if it comes down to kicks, the Bengals are ever confident in rookie kicker Evan McPherson, who drilled a 52-yard field goal in walk-off fashion on the road last week to sink the Titans.

“Some guys handle those things different than others. It’s part of their mental makeup,” said Darrin Simmons, assistant head coach and special teams coordinator. “How do they compartmentalize that and handle that stress and pressure? It is pretty rare, especially for a young guy like that. He’ll be a good one here for a long time.”

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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