CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Bengals improved their playoff chances by defeating the Minnesota Vikings, 27-24, in overtime at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon.
The Bengals trailed 17-3 heading into the fourth quarter but scored two touchdowns to tie the game at 17-17. The Vikings responded with a touchdown to go back up, 24-17, but Cincinnati scored with 39 seconds left in regulation to even the score on a Tee Higgins touchdown catch to force overtime.
The defense stopped the Vikings on fourth-and-inches from the Bengal 42-yard line. Jake Browning scrambled on third and nine and found Tyler Boyd for 44 yards to set up McPherson’s winning field goal with 3:11 left.
Browning passed for 324 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Cincinnati improves to 8-6 and remains alive in the AFC playoff race.
The Bengals got on the board first on McPherson’s 34-yard-field goal to take a 3-0 lead. But Ty Chandler’s one-yard touchdown run capped a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive for Minnesota to give them a 7-3 lead after one quarter.
The Vikings had several chances to extend the lead in the second quarter, but Nick Mullens was intercepted by Mike Hilton at the Cincinnati one-yard line with 4:14 left in the first half. On Minnesota’s next series, Myles Murphy sacked Mullens out of the red zone.
On the next snap, B.J. Hill grabbed Mullens and was attempting to throw him to the ground for another sack. But when he was trying to throw it away, he threw it right off Hill’s helmet and while lying on his back, Hill caught it for this second interception in as many weeks.
Minnesota opened the second half with the ball and Jordan Addison’s 37-yard touchdown catch extended the lead to 14-3. Greg Joseph added a 39-yard field and the Vikings led, 17-3, after three quarters.
Higgins caught a 13-yard touchdown pass to start the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 17-10. Minnesota went three-and-out on their next series and the Bengals scored again on a one-yard touchdown run by Joe Mixon to tie the game at 17-17 with 7:46 to play.
The Vikings reclaimed on a one-yard touchdown catch by Addison to go up 24-17 with 3:48 remaining. The Bengals drove to the Minnesota 21-yard line with 39 seconds when Browning threw a pass to Higgins. He made a leaping catch as before he was pushed out of bounds, Higgins made a reverse pivot and swiped his right hand over the right front pylon for the game-tying touchdown to even the score at 24-24.
Cincinnati went three-and-out to start overtime. Minnesota drove to the Bengals’ 42-yard-line, but Mullens was stopped twice on consecutive quarterback sneaks and Cincinnati took over on downs.
Browning avoided a sack on third down and found Tyler Boyd for a 44-yard reception to the Minnesota 13-yard line. Three plays later, McPherson’s 29-yard field ended the game.
For the third straight game, Jake Browning put up solid numbers. He completed 29 of 42 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns. Tee Higgins caught four passes for 61 yards and two scores.
The Bengals are the No. 6 seed in the AFC Playoff Picture entering Sunday’s action while the Indianapolis Colts moved up to the No. 7 seed after beating Pittsburgh late Saturday afternoon.
The Steelers fell to 7-7 as did Denver following their loss at Detroit on Saturday night.
Cincinnati’s next game will be Saturday, December 23, when they play at Pittsburgh in Acrisure Stadium.
Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
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