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Bengals upset top-seeded Titans with last-second FG, reach AFC title game

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Bengals upset top-seeded Titans with last-second FG, reach AFC title game
Cincinnati Bengals kicker Evan McPherson (2) celebrates after kicking a game-winning 52-yard field goal against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 22 (UPI) -- The Cincinnati Bengals beat the Tennessee Titans 19-16 in the divisional round Saturday at Nissan Stadium to advance to their first AFC Championship Game since 1988.

Bengals rookie kicker Evan McPherson drilled a 52-yard field goal as time expired to give fourth-seeded Cincinnati its first postseason road win in franchise history. The Bengals are now just one win away from playing in their third Super Bowl ever.

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Cincinnati will play the winner of Sunday's matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC title game next week.

"He's got ice in his veins," Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said of McPherson. "There's not much more to be said. He's just as cool as it gets."

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McPherson's 52-yard kick was his fourth field goal of the game and his eighth this postseason. With at least one game left for the Bengals, McPherson has already equaled Stephen Gostkowski's NFL record for most field goals by a rookie in a single postseason.

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The Bengals picked off Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill three times Saturday, setting up two of McPherson's field goals.

Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson intercepted Tannehill with 20 seconds remaining to give Cincinnati the ball at its 47-yard line. Joe Burrow found rookie Pro Bowl receiver Ja'Marr Chase for a 19-yard gain, then the Bengals ran twice to set up McPherson's game-winning boot.

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"That's a kicker's dream, to have the game on your shoulders," McPherson said.

Burrow was sacked nine times as the Titans tied an NFL record held by four other teams for the most sacks in a postseason game. Burrow finished with 348 passing yards, and Chase ended with 109 receiving yards.

Bengals running back Joe Mixon had the team's lone touchdown of the game -- a 16-yard score on their first drive of the second half.

"We found a way all year," said Burrow, who guided the Bengals to a 26-19 win over the Las Vegas Raiders in the wild-card round. "Man, crazy, crazy game. That's a really, really good team. Unbelievable defensive line, they had a great plan on defense. Credit to them, we found a way at the end."

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The Titans concluded their 25th season in Tennessee with a third consecutive loss on their home turf as the AFC's No. 1 seed. The Titans haven't won at home in the playoffs since January 2003.

Tennessee returned star running back Derrick Henry, who missed the past nine games with a fractured foot. He ran for 66 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals.

Tannehill finished with 220 passing yards and one touchdown to go with his three interceptions. Titans receiver A.J. Brown had five catches for 142 yards and a score.

"I don't think Ryan or myself or anybody did enough to win the game," Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said. "That's how it goes. It's never going to be about one person, not as long as I'm head coach, which will be a while."

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