The rivalry between Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow has earned comparisons to the one between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. The Chiefs and Bengals quarterbacks added another chapter Sunday, and again the Cincinnati signal-caller came away with the win.
In a high-profile Sunday afternoon matchup, the Bengals came out on top 27-24 in the battle of AFC powerhouses. That’s the score by which Cincinnati won the AFC championship game last season.
Sunday’s game was a pivotal one in the AFC playoff picture, on multiple fronts. The Chiefs’ loss moved the Bills to the top seed in the AFC and dropped Kansas City to second. The Bengals stayed tied with the Ravens atop the AFC North and the Dolphins in the wild-card race ahead of a daunting stretch of games.
Several key stats determined how this game turned out. The Sporting News examines them as well as other major notes from the game.
MORE: Burrow, Perine star in Bengals’ third win in a row over Chiefs
Bengals vs. Chiefs, by the numbers
No answer for the Bengals’ wide receivers
The trio of Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd was fully reunited Sunday with Chase returning from a hip injury that had cost him the past four contests. And they looked as dangerous as ever with Burrow throwing them the ball.
Chase caught seven passes for 97 yards, Boyd caught four passes for 60 yards and Higgins caught three passes for 35 yards. While Higgins’ numbers might be down relative to the rest of the group, his receptions were perhaps the most important. He caught a second-quarter touchdown and a slant on third-and-11 at the end of the game to ice the contest.
— NFL (@NFL) December 5, 2022
Burrow’s connection with the three contributed to a 25-for-31 passing performance, with 286 yards and two touchdowns. Mahomes completed 16 of 27 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown.
Samaje Perine’s standout performance
The Bengals have turned to Perine with Joe Mixon (concussion) out, and Mixon’s former teammate at Oklahoma has delivered. A week ago, he rushed for 58 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries to go with four catches for 35 yards. He one-upped that Sunday.
Perine finished with 106 rushing yards on 21 carries and 49 receiving yards on six catches. His 155 yards from scrimmage were a career high. Along the way, he also delivered his second straight stiff arm to a defender.
Perine dribbles Justin Reid like a basketball pic.twitter.com/MaFT6H1IQc
— Tino Bovenzi (@TinoBovenzi) December 4, 2022
Between Perine’s ball carrying the past two games and his pass-blocking ability — his 71.8 PFF pass-blocking grade ranks seventh among qualifying running backs — there could soon be a running back controversy in Cincinnati.
MORE: Jessie Bates appears to fake injury vs. Chiefs
Travis Kelce was bottled up
Kelce came into the game seventh in the NFL in receptions (73), sixth in receiving yards (963) and first in touchdown receptions (12).
The Bengals shut him down Sunday. Kelce came away with just four catches for 56 yards, and he also fumbled. It is only the second time this season he has been held to fewer than 60 yards without a touchdown. The other game came in Week 2 against the Chargers, when he caught five passes for 51 yards and no scores.
The fumble he lost was just the ninth of his NFL career and his first since Week 8 fof the 2021 season against the Giants.
The script was different from the past two meetings between two teams. In the previous two matchups, Kansas City outscored Cincinnati by a combined 49-27 in the first quarter, while the Bengals had the second-half edge 34-6.
This time, Cincinnati had the momentum in the first half, taking a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter. But the Chiefs took the momentum late in the first half, scoring a touchdown on their last full drive of the half and then on both of their first two drives of the second half.
But Cincinnati again quieted Kansas City in the fourth quarter. Kelce was stripped and the Chiefs missed a field goal attempt on their final drive.
The Bengals scored on their first three drives in the second half, booting field goals on their first two and getting a go-ahead touchdown from Chris Evans in the fourth before running out the clock on its last drive.
MORE: How the Bengals slowed Patrick Mahomes in 2022 AFC championship game
Joe Burrow’s record vs. Patrick Mahomes
Sixteen quarterbacks have faced Mahomes multiple times, including the playoffs, since Mahomes became the starter in Kansas City in 2018. Only one quarterback is undefeated against him: Burrow.
Burrow is now 3-0 against Mahomes, making him the only quarterback with multiple wins and an undefeated record against Mahomes and the Chiefs. He’s also the only quarterback to win three straight games against him. The Bengals are the only team with three wins against the Mahomes-led Chiefs.
Despite playing in a separate division, Burrow already is tied for most wins by a quarterback against Mahomes, joining Tom Brady, who has wins against him in the Super Bowl, the AFC championship game and the regular season. Burrow has a win in the AFC championship game and two wins in the regular season.
Unless one of the two leaves the AFC, which seems unlikely in the near future, a Super Bowl between the two won’t be happening.