Bengals’ rookie kicker continues to be clutch

Evan McPherson is 12-of-12 on field goal attempts in the playoffs, including two game-winners

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Rookie kicker Evan McPherson delivered in the most clutch moments for the Cincinnati Bengals this season.

None was bigger than his 31-yard field goal to lift the Bengals to a 27-24 overtime win over the two-time defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday to punch their ticket to the Super Bowl. The kick was his fifth game-winner this season and second straight in the postseason.

McPherson, nicknamed ‘Money Mac,’ is 12-for-12 on field goals in the playoffs, giving him the most field goals without a miss by any kicker in league history, according to NFL Research. He tied Adam Vinatieri’s career mark of three playoff games with four field goals or more, but McPherson is the first rookie to accomplish that feat and he will be going for another record in Super Bowl LVI.

The Bengals’ fifth-round draft pick is eying Vinatieri’s mark of 14 field goals in the postseason, a record he set en route to a Super Bowl in 2006.

“We just need three more in the Super Bowl to break the record (and) two more to tie,” McPherson said after the game Sunday. “That’s definitely something we’re going to shoot for. We’ll see how it goes, I’d like to score a lot of touchdowns in the Super Bowl. However we can get points in the Super Bowl, we’ll do it.”

Among McPherson’s kicks Sunday, he made a 52-yarder that gave the Bengals their first lead in the fourth quarter. He won the divisional round game at Tennessee on an attempt from that distance as time expired, moments after telling backup quarterback Brandon Allen, “Eh, looks like we’re going to the AFC Championship.”

This time, he didn’t say anything to call his shot, but McPherson was confident as usual.

“I didn’t say anything this week, but it was going through my head that we had a pretty good chance that we were going to the Super Bowl,” McPherson said. “It’s so surreal that this game came down to a field goal. Obviously, it wasn’t just me. Our defense put us in a great position with the interception. Our offense, I obviously had a lot of confidence in them that they were going to drive it down. I thought we were going to score, I was telling everyone that this game was going to end on a touchdown, not a field goal.”

Cincinnati is full of confident players, even when others are writing them off for one reason or another, and that swagger has been key in turning around a team that went 4-11-1 last year and 2-14 in 2019.

It was important Sunday, too, when the Bengals fell behind 21-3 in the second quarter. Ja’Marr Chase’s touchdown catch made it an 11-point deficit going into the half, thanks to a last-play stop by Eli Apple when Patrick Mahomes threw a pass to Tyreek Hill for no gain at the 1-yard line when the Chiefs could have gone for an easy field goal.

McPherson said “nobody blinked an eye” being down.

“We all thought that we were definitely going to come back and find a way to win,” McPherson said. “That’s what we’ve done the whole year. I think people probably wrote us off at halftime, but we’re a confident bunch of guys and we knew that there’s no way we were going to go out like this. We knew 100 percent that we were going to come back and give them a run for their money.”

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