The Bengals heard all the whispers heading into their AFC divisional round clash with the Bills. The expectation was that Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs and company would run roughshod over them. Cincinnati’s offensive line was banged up and its defense struggled at times to contain the Tyler Huntley-led Ravens a week prior. Highmark Stadium was going to be bumping.
Zac Taylor’s side quelled the doubters with a wire-to-wire, 27-10 beatdown of No. 2 seed Buffalo, blotting the impact of that raucous blue-and-red crowd by controlling the line of scrimmage and time of possession. Cincinnati advanced to its second consecutive AFC championship game in style.
MORE: Joe Burrow, Bengals dominate Bills to reach another AFC championship game
Cincy has embraced the underdog mentality over the past few years as the franchise completed a rapid rebuild under Taylor. who took the helm in 2019. So it was no surprise that Joe Burrow had something to say after CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson brought up the fact that the AFC title game will be held at Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Chiefs, as opposed to a neutral site, which would have been the case had the Bills advanced.
Joe Burrow was asked about the NFL’s plans for a neutral site AFC Championship game, and the tickets that were pre-purchase.
“Better send them refunds”
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 22, 2023
Burrow wasn’t the only one basking in the glow of Bengals haters’ downfall. In fact, as Cincinnati players scampered down the tunnel to the locker room, they could be heard chanting a familiar term:
Tons of #Bengals coming off the field yelling “REFUNDS!” pic.twitter.com/nCmxCkC4Zs
— Andrew Gillis (@Andrew_Gillis70) January 22, 2023
The rumors of the Bengals’ decline were greatly exaggerated. Cincinnati fell just short of the Lombardi Trophy a year ago, yet many a Kansas City and Buffalo fan had already secured tickets for a potential 1 vs. 2 matchup in Atlanta.
MORE: Why Bills were dominated by Bengals in playoff matchup
Bengals defensive lineman D.J. Reader said as much in a pregame spot for CBS.
“We made a Super Bowl run last year,” Reader said, “And people talk about us like we’re not that, we’re not this, that and the third. We carry an underdog chip on our shoulder.”
Fellow D-lineman Sam Hubbard added his two cents, foreshadowing Burrow’s iconic statement.
“They’re already selling tickets to the AFC championship, neutral site,” Hubbard said.
“Fumble in the Jungle”❓
“Hubbard Yard Dash”❓
Sam Hubbard & D.J. Reader of the @Bengals talk Joey B, the Bills rematch, and of course Sam’s epic play. pic.twitter.com/HPCh2vRvYB
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) January 22, 2023
That “underdog, chip on our shoulder” mentality, as Reader termed it, has propelled Cincinnati to the brink of yet another Super Bowl appearance, one that seemingly is a monkey wrench in the NFL’s plans. Oh, well.
“We just keep screwing it up for everybody,” Taylor said with a wry smile postgame. “And I hate that for the people who have to endure all those logistical issues. We just keep screwing it up, so I’m sorry.”
“It is tough, because they have to formulate the plans for the coin tosses, and they gotta formulate plans for neutral site games, and we just keep screwing it up for everybody. And I hate that for the people who have to endure all those logistical issues.”
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 22, 2023