Bengals vs. Bills recap (2023)

The Athletic NFL Staff

January 23, 2023 at 8:18 AM EST

Bengals vs. Bills recap (1)Bengals vs. Bills recap (2)

The NFL playoffs resumed Sunday with the Bengals taking down the Bills 27-10 in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs. Cincinnati advances to the AFC Championship Game where it will face the Chiefs.

Check in with The Athletic for all the latest NFL news, highlights, reaction and analysis.

Helpful links

  • Final stats and boxscore (Bengals def. Bills, 27-10)
  • Complete NFL postseason scores and schedule
  • Season-long coverage of the Bengals and Bills

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January 23, 2023 at 8:18 AM EST

7 Bills observations from Sunday’s loss to Bengals: What went wrong and what happens next?

After an offseason full of positivity, Super Bowl promise and continued talk of fulfilling “destiny” while clearing hurdles through trying times, the Bills saw the storybook season that never was end with an unceremonious thud. They were outplayed, outcoached and out-everythinged en route to a 27-10 loss at home to the Bengals.

The Bills’ season ends in the divisional round for the second consecutive year, but Sunday is also just the first home playoff loss in the Sean McDermott era. The Bengals raced out to an early 14-0 lead, and while the Bills did their best to keep it competitive, the cruel reality is that after the early hole, they were never really a threat to take the game back.

The Bills’ offseason has abruptly arrived, and with it, far more questions than the Bills have ever had to face in the offseason since McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane took over in 2017. But the first step is trying to figure out what went wrong Sunday and what could come because of it.

Here are seven observations from the Bills’ season-ending loss to the Bengals.

Bengals vs. Bills recap (3)Bengals vs. Bills recap (4)

Joe Buscaglia·

Staff Writer, Bills

GO FURTHERSeven Bills observations from loss to Bengals: What went wrong and what happens next?

January 23, 2023 at 7:20 AM EST

How Hayden Hurst’s hurdle leapfrogged Bengals over favored Bills

Adjacent to the parking lot of the Buffalo Bills’ stadium is Allen Street. Fans have festooned the street sign with an image of Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen hurdling the sign. Allen’s ability to launch himself over would-be tacklers has become mythological in Western New York. He started doing it as a rookie when he hurdled over Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr. It became legend when he jumped over Chiefs safety Justin Reid in a win at Kansas City earlier this season. That’s when a fan changed the sign for well-traveled Hertel Avenue in the city of Buffalo to Hurdle Avenue. At the beginning of the postseason, the Bills’ concession stands began to sell The Hurdle Burger, paying homage to what has become Allen’s signature move.

On Sunday, though, the Bengals came to Orchard Park and leapfrogged the Bills on their way to a 27-10 win and second-straight trip to the AFC Championship Game.

The Bills were down to their fourth-string safety. Bengals tight end Hayden Hurst didn’t know that, but he knows defensive backs don’t like to hit him high. He’s 6-foot-4 and 249 pounds, so the preferred option for defenders is to go low.

That flashed through Hurts’ mind with about five minutes to play in the third quarter of the Bengals’ divisional round matchup against the Bills Sunday. It was third down with 10 yards to go from Buffalo’s 40-yard line. The Bengals were only ahead 17-10 at that point. The Bills had just taken a timeout before the play because they had too many defensive linemen on the field. They came out in a nickel defense, and a stop would have forced a slippery 58-yard field goal.

Joe Burrow, playing behind an offensive line missing three starters, dropped back into a clean pocket. He scanned downfield before zipping a pass in the flat to Hurst. Hurst caught it at the 39 and had to get to the 30-yard line for a first down. He turned upfield and saw the first-down marker. The only defender in his path was Jaquan Johnson, who had just replaced an injured Dean Marlowe, who was replacing Damar Hamlin, who had replaced Micah Hyde.

Johnson, a sixth-round pick in 2019, has long been a special teams favorite for the Bills. In this spot, he became the team’s most important defender. The 5-foot-10 safety is three inches shorter than Marlowe and six inches shorter than Hurst. As Hurst expected, he went low for the tackle. Hurst had already launched into the air for a hurdle.

Read more here.

Bengals vs. Bills recap (7)Bengals vs. Bills recap (8)

Matthew Fairburn·

Staff Writer, Sabres

Hurdling through the snow

📺: #CINvsBUF on CBS
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/RqOcaBu1Zc pic.twitter.com/2W5N4HGlrE

— NFL (@NFL) January 22, 2023

January 23, 2023 at 6:51 AM EST

Liability to laudability, Bengals’ maligned line dominates in win over Bills

Bengals center Ted Karras, a man with two Super Bowl rings and a 3-0 record in AFC Championship games, called it the best win of his career.

He then doubled down: “Biggest moment of our football lives.”

Anchoring an offensive line that had allowed at least one sack in 35 consecutive games — the second-longest active streak in the league, including a postseason record nine of them 364 days ago at Tennessee in this same divisional round of the playoffs — and entering Highmark Stadium on Sunday missing three starters, Karras was beaming, and steaming, after his group of graters guided the Bengals to a dominant 27-10 victory against the Bills.

“We knew we had a big task on our shoulders against a great defensive front with three guys coming in,” Karras said. “These guys came out and played so hard against a great team, a great defense, and shoved it right down the field. Unbelievable performance. I’m so proud of the guys. I hope they give a refund out for all those Atlanta tickets.”

Read more here.

GO FURTHERBengals’ offensive line was supposed to be a liability. So how did it dominate the Bills?

January 22, 2023 at 11:19 PM EST

Bengals’ personality a perfect fit for daunting path back to Super Bowl

In preparation for a Saturday night meeting inside the team hotel, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor searched for every example he could find for exactly how difficult Sunday would be.

They were everywhere.

The Bills were 4-0 at home in the playoffs under Sean McDermott. He spotted a stat on Twitter pointing out Buffalo owns the best home postseason win percentage in NFL history. Copy and paste.

The league promoted all the tickets sold for a Kansas City-Buffalo AFC title game in Atlanta. He leaned into it. The Vegas line was climbing, the Bengals were up to six-point underdogs. Make sure that gets mentioned again.

“I wanted to show that to the team because I knew what that would do to them,” Taylor said. “It wouldn’t put fear in them, that ‘Oh my god, we are walking into an environment that people don’t win in.’ It was going to be the opposite for our guys. And it was.”

Was it ever.

The 27-10 dismantling of the Bills at Highmark Stadium was a visualization of the truest spirit of this team. They don’t just accept the hardest path, they prefer it.

Read more here.

Bengals vs. Bills recap (13)Bengals vs. Bills recap (14)

Paul Dehner Jr.·

Senior Writer, Bengals

GO FURTHERBengals’ personality is a perfect fit for the daunting path back to Super Bowl

January 22, 2023 at 6:26 PM EST

Bengals topple Bills to head to second straight AFC Championship game

The Bengals are heading back to their second straight AFC Championship game as they knocked off the Bills 27-10 Sunday in Buffalo. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Bengals will face the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game in Kansas City next Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET. Kansas City, the AFC’s top seed, knocked off the Jacksonville Jaguars in the other AFC divisional round game Saturday.
  • Joe Burrow started hot and remained steady through the snowy conditions going 23-of-36 passing for 242 yards with two touchdown passes (Ja’Marr Chase, Hayden Hurst) resulting in a 101.9 passer rating. Joe Mixon also produced with 105 rushing yards on 20 carries and a TD.
  • The Bengals defense held up strong against the Bills offense. Josh Allen completed 25 of his 42 passes for 264 passing yards with no TD throws and one interception for a 68.0 passer rating. He added a first-half TD to go along with his 26 rushing yards.
  • Bills safety Damar Hamlin attended Sunday’s AFC divisional round with his family. It’s the first time he’s made it back to a game since collapsing on the field with cardiac arrest during the Bills’ Week 17 game at Cincinnati.

Read more here.

Bengals vs. Bills recap (17)Bengals vs. Bills recap (18)

The Athletic NFL Staff

GO FURTHERBengals topple Bills to head to AFC Championship: How Cincinnati’s defense stifled Josh Allen

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January 22, 2023 at 6:24 PM EST

Ja'Marr Chase is remarkably consistent

Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase finished with five catches in Sunday's win, his sixth straight game with at least five receptions to begin his playoff career.

Only three other players in NFL history have had at least five catches in each of their first six career playoff games: Larry Fitzgerald, DeAndre Hopkins and Wes Welker.

Bengals vs. Bills recap (21)Bengals vs. Bills recap (22)

Jason Starrett·

Deputy Managing Editor, College Football

January 22, 2023 at 6:24 PM EST

No neutral-site game necessary

Joe Burrow when asked about the potential neutral-site AFC Championship game had the Bills won today: “Better send those refunds.”

Bengals vs. Bills recap (23)Bengals vs. Bills recap (24)

KC Joyner·

Contributor, NFL & Fantasy

“Domination from start to finish – that’s what we expected.”

Joe Burrow joins @TracyWolfson after the @Bengals’ dominant win over Buffalo. pic.twitter.com/DALPkMC7ts

— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) January 22, 2023

Multiple Bengals coming into the locker room yelling: “Better get those refunds!”

The NFL move to set up KC and Buffalo in ATL not lost on them.

— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) January 22, 2023

January 22, 2023 at 6:23 PM EST

Winter belongs to Joe Burrow

Quite the run for the Bengals QB during two key months of the season.

Bengals vs. Bills recap (25)Bengals vs. Bills recap (26)

Aaron Reiss·

Staff Editor, NFL

Joe Burrow lost the first two December starts of his NFL career last year.

He hasn’t lost one in December OR January since.

Today’s Divisional Playoff win gives @joeyb a 13-game December/January winning streak.

Overall, he last lost on Halloween 2022. pic.twitter.com/h4cTEDqq39

— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) January 22, 2023

January 22, 2023 at 6:22 PM EST

Stefon Diggs attempted to rush out of locker room

Bills WR Stefon Diggs darted out of the locker room with all his stuff before some of the Bills coaches were even down to the tunnel area. Practice squad RB Duke Johnson stopped Diggs before he left the stadium and brought him back to the locker room. He left a few minutes later.

Bengals vs. Bills recap (27)Bengals vs. Bills recap (28)

Joe Buscaglia·

Staff Writer, Bills

January 22, 2023 at 6:10 PM EST

The rematch is set

The rematch is set: Joe Burrow and the Bengals will face Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in next Sunday's AFC Championship Game. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS.

Bengals vs. Bills recap (29)Bengals vs. Bills recap (30)

Jason Starrett·

Deputy Managing Editor, College Football

The Rematch.

📺: #CINvsKC -- Sunday, Jan. 29 6:30pm ET on CBS
📱: Stream on NFL+ pic.twitter.com/QC5bFmHrrh

— NFL (@NFL) January 22, 2023

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January 22, 2023 at 5:59 PM EST

Joe Burrow changes things

The Bengals are about to record their fifth playoff win with Joe Burrow. They had just five postseason victories in their entire franchise history before drafting Burrow.

Bengals vs. Bills recap (31)Bengals vs. Bills recap (32)

Aaron Reiss·

Staff Editor, NFL

January 22, 2023 at 5:57 PM EST

Joe Burrow to make NFL history

Joe Burrow becomes the first quarterback selected No. 1 overall to win at least five playoff starts before his 27th birthday (Burrow turns 27 in December).

Burrow joins Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger as the only QBs to ever win five playoff starts within their first three seasons.

Bengals vs. Bills recap (33)Bengals vs. Bills recap (34)

Skyler Rivera

January 22, 2023 at 5:54 PM EST

Who will receive most of the blame?

Who will receive most of the blame for the Bills' poor offensive showing today?

Bengals vs. Bills recap (35)Bengals vs. Bills recap (36)

Aaron Reiss·

Staff Editor, NFL

The noise in Buffalo around Ken Dorsey has been so loud this year, it’s going to be hard for people to look past him as the reason this team lost.

But the truth is that this was just an really bad Josh Allen game in all ways.

— Diante Lee (@DianteLeeFB) January 22, 2023

January 22, 2023 at 5:51 PM EST

Who Dey is loud

Bengals fans are chanting loud enough to be heard on the broadcast.

Bengals vs. Bills recap (37)Bengals vs. Bills recap (38)

KC Joyner·

Contributor, NFL & Fantasy

🗣 "WHO DEY WHO DEY WHO DEY" pic.twitter.com/L2Kyq02xwa

— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) January 22, 2023

January 22, 2023 at 5:50 PM EST

A side effect

A side effect if this score holds up.

Bengals vs. Bills recap (39)Bengals vs. Bills recap (40)

KC Joyner·

Contributor, NFL & Fantasy

It looks like Atlanta is going to be eliminated from the NFL playoffs again.

— Jeff Schultz (@JeffSchultzATL) January 22, 2023

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January 22, 2023 at 5:46 PM EST

Should the Bills have kicked a field goal?

Should the Bills have kicked a field goal there?

Bengals vs. Bills recap (41)Bengals vs. Bills recap (42)

Aaron Reiss·

Staff Editor, NFL

---> CIN (27) @ BUF (10) <---
BUF has 4th & 6 at the CIN 16

Recommendation : 🤷 Toss-up (+0.5 WP)
Actual play: 👉 (Shotgun) J.Allen pass incomplete deep right to G.Davis (https://t.co/adWyePBm56). pic.twitter.com/e1KbODsC7y

— 4th down decision bot (@ben_bot_baldwin) January 22, 2023

"Down 3 scores why not kick FG"

The answer is two-fold:

1. Pretty good chance you're going to have a rougher 4th down later in game

2. FG+TD+TD gets you a tie at best. That's a far cry from "win"

— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) January 22, 2023

January 22, 2023 at 5:45 PM EST

Mass exodus

If this was a 1970s Monday Night Football game, Don Meredith would be singing Turn Out The Lights, The Party’s Over.

Bengals vs. Bills recap (43)Bengals vs. Bills recap (44)

KC Joyner·

Contributor, NFL & Fantasy

Now it's a mass exodus after that Eli Apple PBU on fourth down

— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonATH) January 22, 2023

January 22, 2023 at 5:44 PM EST

Bengals disguise pressure

The Bengals defense has done a masterful job disguising pressure today.

Bengals vs. Bills recap (45)Bengals vs. Bills recap (46)

Aaron Reiss·

Staff Editor, NFL

Josh Allen hurried on nearly half of his drop backs whew

— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) January 22, 2023

January 22, 2023 at 5:39 PM EST

Allen into the blue tent

Mike Hilton blasts Josh Allen for a sack fumble and Allen is slow to get up. Allen into the blue tent.

Bengals vs. Bills recap (47)Bengals vs. Bills recap (48)

KC Joyner·

Contributor, NFL & Fantasy

January 22, 2023 at 5:35 PM EST

Injury update

CB Tre'Davious White & S Jordan Poyer are being evaluated for head injuries.

Bengals vs. Bills recap (49)Bengals vs. Bills recap (50)

Adam Coleman·

Staff Editor, NFL

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