CINCINNATI — Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt stripped Kansas City tight end Travis Kelsey of the ball after a catch near midfield that set up a comeback drive in the fourth quarter — as Cincinnati defeated the visiting Chiefs 27-24 on Sunday at Paycor Stadium.
After Pratt forced — and recovered — the football, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow led a 10-play drive capped by an eight-yard touchdown pass to running back Chris Evans to boost the score to 27-24 with 8:54 to go in the game.
According to ESPN, the Burrow connection was his ninth passing TD in the fourth quarter, which is the most by any quarterback in the league this season.
“That’s just what Germaine is all about,” Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said. “If there’s a guy who’s scratching and clawing to get turnovers just like he won us the game against Minnesota last year in Week 1 doing the same thing. Finding a way, sticking with it — that’s what we appreciate abut Germaine.”
The Cincinnati defense once again came up big on the next Chiefs drive.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was on the move when Bengals defensive end Joseph Ossai chased and sacked him to force a long field-goal attempt on fourth down.
Kansas City kicker Harrison Butker missed the 55-yard game-tying attempt and turned the ball back over to the Bengals, which ran out the clock for the third consecutive win over the Chiefs, all by three points.
“That was the hustle play of the century right there,” Taylor said about the sack on Mahomes. “I mean, he was on the ground, got up chasing and found a way to get that stop leading to the missed field goal.”
Taylor went on to say that was a game-saving play.
“If Patrick (Mahomes) scrambles for that first down, you just never know because they’re always one play away,” he said. “I’ve got a ton of confidence in our defense, but let’s be real. He’s a great player, they are one play away and you don’t know how much time is going to be left on the clock. Maybe if they do kick the field goal, if that were to happen after that, such a great play by (Ossai).”
The Bengals (8-4) jumped out to a 7-0 lead on the first drive that featured a 17-yard pass from Burrow to Tyler Boyd.
The 11-play drive covered 75 yards, and ended when Burrow scampered into the end zone from four yards out with 8:49 to go in the first quarter.
Burrow finished the game with 46 yards rushing on 11 carries with one score.
“My legs have always been the last resort for me when the going gets tough,” Burrow said. “I know I can rely on that to make a play in a critical moment. I don’t do it often, but I know I have it in my back pocket always.”
In the air, Burrow threw for 286 yards with two touchdowns — and completed 25 of 36 attempts for a passer rating of 126.6.
“He was awesome today,” Taylor said of Burrow. “But you’ve got to start with the offensive line. They gave him a lot of time to be able to get a chance to find those guys open and make the plays with his feet and with his arm. Joe does what Joe does.”
After the Chiefs (9-3) cut the lead to 7-3 in the first quarter, Burrow connected with Tee Higgins on a 12-yard touchdown for the 14-3 lead.
That play meant something more than points for Burrow, especially after Chiefs safety Justin Reid said that he was going to “lock down” Higgins earlier in the week.
“I would have cared a lot more if he knew what he was talking about,” Burrow said about Reid’s comment.
Kansas City scored two back-to-back TDs to take the lead 17-14.
Cincinnati kicker Evan McPherson then tied the game on a 36-yard field goal with 7:16 to go in the third period.
With 3:49 left in the third, Mahomes darted into the end zone from three yards out for the 24-17 lead.
Another McPherson field goal, this time from 41-yards out with 14:47 to go in the game, cut the Kansas City advantage to 24-20.
That set the stage for Pratt’s heroics.
Bengals playmaker Ja’Marr Chase returned to action after missing four games from a hip injury — and caught seven passes for 97 yards, while Boyd hauled in four catches for 60 yards.
Running back Samaje Perine, who started again for Joe Mixon, rumbled for 106 yards on 21 carries.
Mixon is still under NFL precautions following a concussion two weeks ago.
The Bengals will host the battle of Ohio next Sunday against Cleveland.
The Browns are the only AFC North team Burrow has yet to defeat.
The Athens native fell to 0-4 against the Browns after the Bengals lost in Cleveland on Halloween.