Cowboys in the NFL: Divisional Round
LARAMIE -- “We were expecting their best punch and they came out and they punched us.”
Josh Allen couldn't have summed it up any better.
Cincinnati never landed a signature knockout blow inside a snow-covered Highmark Stadium. It didn't need to. Joe Burrow's constant body blows throughout did the trick. The Bengals' third-year signal caller completed his first nine throws of the day as the visitors found the end zone on the first two offensive possessions of the afternoon.
That was plenty
The defending AFC Champions rolled to an easy 27-10 victory in the divisional round after limiting Allen and the high-powered Bill offense to just 325 yards of total offense. A Cam Taylor-Britt fourth-quarter interception sealed the deal.
Cincinnati, for the second-straight year, will travel to Arrowhead Stadium with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Last January, Burrow's boys escaped Kansas City with a 27-24 victory in overtime.
How did the Bengals defense make life so miserable for Allen and Co?
“I couldn't tell you exactly,” he told the Buffalo News. “I’ll watch the film and maybe I can answer that a little bit better. We just couldn't find it. I thought we moved the ball when we had some of our possessions, but the two early three-and-outs and just stalling throughout the game – you can't win football games that way.”
Allen completed just 25-of-42 throws Sunday for 265 yards. He was the team's leading rusher with just 26 yards on eight attempts. Allen scored the lone touchdown of the day, finding the end zone from a yard out in the second quarter.
The Bengals broke up eight passes and put Allen on his backside the same number of times. Vonn Bell registered a sack.
"We just didn't have it," Allen said.
The visitors did.
Logan Wilson, Allen's former teammate in Laramie, tallied seven tackles. He was also credited with a QB hit in the win. Mike Hilton led all tacklers with eight, including briefly knocking Allen out of the game late in the fourth quarter.
More than 50,000 tickets had already been sold to next week's proposed AFC title game in Atlanta, according to ESPN. That game was supposed to feature the Chiefs and Bills.
Cincinnati had different plans.
"Better send those (ticket) refunds," Burrow said.
Allen finished his fifth season in Buffalo with 4,283 passing yards and 35 touchdowns, which was tied for second in the NFL. He also rushed for 808 yards and added eight more touchdowns on the ground.
Here's how the other former Pokes in the playoffs performed this week:
Chad Muma- Linebacker - Jacksonville Jaguars
Andrew Wingard - Safety - Jacksonville Jaguars
What a ride it was for the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars. A year after finishing 3-14 under Urban Meyer, Doug Pederson led this downtrodden franchise to a division title, a playoff victory and a trip to Round 2 in Kansas City. Unfortunately for the Jags, the road stopped there. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs held on for the 27-20 victory Saturday afternoon inside Arrowhead Stadium, punching their ticket to the AFC Championship game for the fifth-straight season. Former Wyoming safety Andrew Wingard finished with two tackles and rookie linebacker Chad Muma was held off the final stat sheet in this one. Wingard, who just completed his fourth season in Jacksonville, tallied 37 tackles, including 2.5 for loss. He also forced a fumble and picked off Ryan Tannehill in Week 11. Muma capped his first NFL campaign with 47 tackles. He also racked up 1.5 sacks, two tackles for loss and a pass breakup.
Tashaun Gipson -- Safety - San Francisco 49ers
Tashaun Gipson's magical ride continues. The former Wyoming safety finished with two tackles Sunday evening in a 19-12 victory over Dallas in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. San Francisco's defense held the visiting Cowboys to just 282 total yards, including just 76 on the ground. Gipson, who is in his 11th professional season, started the year on the Niners' practice squad. Since, he has been one of the top playmakers, snagging a team-high five interceptions.
Marcus Epps - Safety - Philadelphia Eagles
This former Wyoming walk-on racked up five tackles in the Eagles' dominating 38-7 victory over the Giants Saturday night inside Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field. The top-seeded team in the NFC will host San Francisco Sunday afternoon with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Marcus Epps tallied 94 tackles during the regular season, including 2.5 for loss. He also forced a fumble and broke up six passes.