Bengals win! These are the moments that made the difference

Emily Olsen
USA TODAY Sports+

You don't worry about being an underdog when you "Rule the Jungle." The Cincinnati Bengals dethroned Patrick Mahomes and reigning AFC Champions Kansas City Chiefs with a 27-24 comeback overtime win Sunday and are heading to Super Bowl 2022.

UNDERDOGS NO MORE:Bengals on brink of defying 200/1 Super Bowl odds

Trailing 21-10 at halftime, the Bengals defense led a 14-point run to force Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker to make a last-second tying field goal in regulation.

Here's how the Bengals captured their first Super Bowl ticket since the 1988 season. 

RED ZONE STANDUP

After three consecutive touchdown drives from the Chiefs in the first half, the Bengals finally found the end zone to make the score 21-10.

Patrick Mahomes used the 1 minute, 5 seconds left in the first half to take the ball into the red zone with the help of a 33-yard throw to Tyreek Hill and a defensive pass interference call on Bengals cornerback Eli Apple. 

Despite allowing Mahomes to make it within striking distance, the Bengals held firm and forced an incomplete pass to stop any further gains.

Mahomes finished the half 18-of-21 for 220 passing yards and three TDs.

BIG CHASE CONNECTION +2

The goal-line stop proved crucial for the Bengals. The defense kicked it into another gear in the second half, allowing quarterback Joe Burrow to stage a comeback on offense.

Still trailing by eight points, Bengals defensive tackle B.J. Hill intercepted Mahomes and set up Burrow on the Chiefs' 27-yard line. Burrow hit his favorite target, Ja'Marr Chase, and the record-setting rookie hauled in consecutive catches for a touchdown. Needing two points to tie, Burrow found a much more unfamiliar target, wide receiver Trent Taylor, for a two-point conversion.

Those connections were important for the Bengals after losing a charismatic leader, tight end C.J. Uzomah, to a left knee injury in the second quarter.

C.J. UZOMAH INJURY:Bengals tight end carted off during AFC title game, declared out for the game

BUTKER CLUTCH  AGAIN

The Bengals' defense continued to perform as the Chiefs rushed into the red zone with less than two minutes to go. Back-to-back sacks forced Mahomes off the field, and the Chiefs turned to their other clutch weapon: trusted kicker Harrison Butker.

Butker secured overtime with a 44-yarder and kept alive the chance for Kansas City to reach a third consecutive Super Bowl.

It was the only field goal attempt of the game for Butker, who made 25 of 28 field goal attempts during the regular season. 

NOTHING SAFE IN OT

In a familiar fashion, the Chiefs won the overtime coin toss, like they did a week earlier against the Buffalo Bills.

The Bengals' comeback was on the edge of being foiled. With the ball on the 35-yard line, Mahomes attempted two passes to Demarcus Robinson. Both incomplete.

On third-and-long, the Bengals secured the biggest interception in recent team history. Safety Jessie Bates tipped Mahomes' attempted pass and teammate Von Bell was in the right place to cradle the ball and turn the tides for the final time. 

SHOOTER MCPHERSON DOES IT … AGAIN

With the AFC Championship title in reach, Burrow threw two passes to wide receiver Tee Higgins to get well within striking distance for red-hot rookie kicker Evan McPherson.

McPherson, who the CBS broadcast compared to an untested young golfer without fear, converted the 31-yard attempt for his second consecutive game-winner — this time sending Cincinnati to its first Super Bowl in 33 years.

McPherson, 22, also hit a 52-yard field goal as time expired last week to upset the Tennessee Titans 19-16. During the regular season he made 28 of 33 field goal attempts.