Bengals are counting on having a key kicker if needed to beat the Chiefs if it’s a close game
CINCINNATI — Evan McPherson stared at the spot where he would place the biggest kick of his life and nailed it Saturday as the Cincinnati Bengals reached the AFC title game for the first time in 33 years.
In fact, the 22-year-old rookie predicted what he would get. “He was talking (to backup quarterback Brandon Allen) when he was going for the kick,” quarterback Joe Burrow said with a smile. “He took a little practice kick and said, ‘I think we’re going to the AFC championship game’ — before he went out there and kicked.”
The 52-yard field goal as time expired was his fourth without a miss in a 19-16 win over Tennessee. McPherson is 8-8 in two playoff games. “He’s got ice in his veins,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said.
It was also the fourth game-winning kick this season by the player nicknamed “Shooter” by his teammates.
“It’s my job,” McPherson dismissed. “It’s what I do for a living. It’s my job to stay calm and collected at times like this.”
The Bengals were confident they’d see this mental toughness and precision when they selected him in the fifth round (149th overall) in the draft last spring.
In three years at Florida, McPherson made 51 of 60 field goals (85%), including 5 of 8 from 50+ yards. He missed one of 150 extra points.
Cincinnati was looking for some stability and scope after releasing Randy Bullock midway through the 2020 season and ending the year with Austin Seibert, who lost his job to McPherson in 2021.
Including the postseason, McPherson has made 36 of 41 field goals (87.8%), including 11 of 13 beyond 50 yards, converting 49 of 51 extra points.
Both of his missed field goals came in an incredible 25-22 loss to the Packers in overtime during Week 5. A 57-yard fourth-quarter attempt hit the right post. A 49-yard attempt in overtime was blown to the left by the wind.
He bounced back from the worst day of his professional career to complete 23 of 25 field goals the rest of the regular season.
McPherson is getting plenty of attention after his prediction and kick put the Bengals through to the AL Final on Sunday against Kansas City.
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Evan McPherson reinvigorates Bengals in postseason