A back-breaking late-minute mistake by Joseph Ossai helped crush the Cincinnati Bengals’ hopes of a second straight Super Bowl appearance.
With less than 10 seconds remaining in Sunday night’s AFC Championship Game, Ossai shoved Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes after a third-down scramble. Mahomes clearly was out of bounds when the Bengals edge rusher made contact, resulting in a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness.
The flag set up a makeable 45-yard field goal, which Harrison Butker converted to secure a 23-20 win at Arrowhead Stadium and send Kansas City to Super Bowl LVII.
The Chiefs benefited from several controversial officiating decisions in the victory, but Ossai clearly was in the wrong on the game’s deciding play. His penalty spoiled an otherwise strong out for the 22-year-old Texas product, who finished with two QB hits, one tackle for loss and one pass deflection.
Ossai stayed on the bench for several minutes after the final whistle, clearly distraught over his costly miscue.
Kansas City, which now has won three of the last four AFC titles, will face the Philadelphia Eagles in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Feb. 12.