Bills, Bengals look shaky in wins, set up rematch

ROB MAADDI Associated Press

The Bengals-Bills rematch coming up next week almost didn’t happen.

Both teams squeaked past undermanned opponents and beat backup quarterbacks to advance to the AFC divisional round on Sunday.

First, the Bills lost a 17-0 lead against Miami and had to rally for a 34-31 win. Then the Bengals were 1 yard away from the Ravens in the fourth quarter before Sam Hubbard returned a fumbling 98 yards for the crucial score and Cincinnati barely clinched a 24-17 win.

This time the Bengals are visiting Buffalo. They met in Cincinnati on January 2 when the game was halted after Bill’s safety Damar Hamlin collapsed in the first quarter and had to be resuscitated on the field. Hamlin is home after a remarkable recovery.

The Bills (14-3) battled No. 7 Miami, a 13 1/2 point underdog. The Dolphins, falling to third-row rookie quarterback Skylar Thompson, took a 24-20 lead in the third quarter when Josh Allen received a stripsack and Zach Sieler hit on a 5-yard return.

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But Thompson, a seventh-round pick starting his third game because Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater are injured, threw an interception on the third and 19th of his 8, leading to a short field and a go-ahead for the Bills .

“It was a bad decision on my part,” said Thompson, who was 18 of 45 for 220 yards with a TD and two interceptions. “I just got to know the situation we are in. … I just have to understand the situation there and just take yards and field position there and not force anything. That hurts. But we just have to learn from it.”

Allen and the Bills were sloppy and out of rhythm despite going 423 yards. Allen threw two picks that led to 11 points before his fumble led to another touchdown.

“At the end of the day, all that matters is winning the game,” Allen said. “Whether at one or 100, these are week-long seasons now. everything you have It’s win or go home.”

The Bills need to play a lot better to beat the Bengals. The same applies to Cincinnati.

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Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley fumbles the ball as he’s batted away by Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson in the second half of a wild card game Sunday in Cincinnat.

Darron Cummings, Associated Press

The Bengals (13-4) fell 10-9 behind Baltimore after leading 9-0. They were lucky not to be 14-9 at halftime, as the Ravens had a first down on the 3 and settled for a field goal.

With a 17-tie in the fourth quarter, the Ravens drove to the Bengals 1. But Tyler Huntley, standing in for the injured Lamar Jackson, lost the ball when he held it out and jumped onto the goal line.

The Ravens had players behind Huntley in the backfield ready to push him into the end zone, but the sophomore decided to try to step in.

“We just didn’t do it right,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “Tyler overdid it. It was designed for him to go deep.”

The Bengals couldn’t generate anything on offense for the rest of the game, tipping three times and rushing for 19 yards in total, allowing the Ravens to stay inside.

Huntley let Baltimore run at the Cincinnati 17 in the final minute before inflicting a holding penalty, and incompletions resulted in a fourth and 20 from the 27. Huntley’s desperate pass into the end zone bounced off Raven’s wideout hands from James Proche.

“Our defense really carried us in the fourth quarter,” said Bengals coach Zac Taylor.

The Bengals need Joe Burrow and offense to get back on track after mustering just 234 total yards to shoot against the Bills.

The Bengals have nine straight wins while the Bills are on an eight-game winning streak. A series ends next Sunday.

While the Dolphins and Ravens failed to provide surprises, Daniel Jones and the New York Giants had the right stuff against the Minnesota Vikings.

The 9-win Giants defeated the 13-win Vikings 31-24 behind a stellar performance from Jones, who threw for 301 yards and two TDs in his playoff debut. The Giants take on the No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles.

After Brock Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers defeated Seattle to start wild-card weekend, the next four games were decided by a point. Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Dallas Cowboys Monday night to determine which team will face the Niners next.

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