Another week, another game-winning kick for Evan McPherson. His latest one sent the Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1988.
After the Bengals defense intercepted Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes on the first possession of overtime, Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense drove down the field to set up the rookie McPherson for a 31-yard field goal. He drilled the kick to give the Bengals a 27-24 win and their third AFC championship in franchise history.
Once again, McPherson sported a black shirt with “God is Good” printed across the chest during the postgame press conference.
“It’s so surreal that this game came down to a field goal,” McPherson said Sunday. “Obviously, it wasn’t just me. Our defense put us in a great position with the interception, and then our offense, obviously, I had a lot of confidence in them that they were going to drive it down. I thought we were going to score. That’s what I was telling people. I thought this game was going to end on a touchdown, not a field goal.”
The Bengals responded from a 21-3 deficit to eventually take a 24-21 lead in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs got the ball back with just over six minutes left to play and drove the ball down the field to the red zone, but were forced to settle for a field goal as time expired in regulation.
Last week, the Chiefs trailed by three with just 13 seconds left, but drove down the field to set up a game-tying field goal to send the AFC divisional-round game against the Buffalo Bills to overtime. The Chiefs won the coin toss and scored on the first and only drive of overtime.
It looked like this game might follow the same script when the Chiefs again won the coin toss, but McPherson said he had plenty of faith in his defense.
“Our defense had been playing so good all day,” McPherson said. “It was just time for us to get our turn and get a turnover there. We put some pressure on them — got them third and long right off the bat — and made them try to have to make a play. Ultimately, our guys went out and made a play. All props to our defense. They’ve done tremendous this whole season, and in big times they really stepped up.”
With his game-winning kick, McPherson was 4-for-4 on Sunday and is now 12-for-12 in the playoffs. His 12 field goals this postseason are a Bengals team record and puts him just two behind Adam Vinatieri, who had 14 in 2006, for the NFL postseason record.
His 12 field goals of 50 or more yards between the regular season and playoffs this season are a single-season record. Vinatieri’s record is something he’s aiming for, but he’ll also be glad if those field goals aren’t needed too much, he said.
“That’s definitely something we’re going to shoot for, and we’ll see how it goes,” he said. “I’d like to score a lot of touchdowns in the Super Bowl, but however we can get points in the Super Bowl will do.”
Whether it’s with his postgame attire or sharing Scripture on social media, McPherson is vocal about sharing his faith publicly. He frequently posts pictures on Instagram following or leading up to games or other events and adds a Bible verse in the caption, like he did Sunday night after the game. He wrote, “To God be the glory,” in the caption, along with John 3:16, which reads, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Leading up to Sunday’s game, he referenced Deuteronomy 20:4, which says, “For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”
Sunday’s kick gave McPherson his fifth game-winning kick of his young NFL career after also kicking one in the divisional round to defeat the Tennessee Titans. Before he took the field for that kick, he told the sideline, “Well, looks like we’re going to the AFC championship.” While he might be able to stay calm, his parents aren’t always able to, they told Bengals.com. But then again, they ask for that.
“As parents, we want to take the pressure off him,” his father, LaDon McPherson, said. “We ask God to give us the pressure. Give us the tension and let him just do what he does. Give us all the anxiety.”
There was no such sideline message this week, McPherson said, but it was going through his head as he took the field that there was a pretty good chance they were going to the Super Bowl. He’s enjoyed the moment and said he’s excited for this run to continue for a couple more weeks.
“This whole week’s been awesome,” he said. “It’s been surreal, just all the attention me and the team’s gotten. I think it’s been coming this whole year. I think we’ve kind of pushed that underdog narrative to the side and shown everybody that the Bengals are here to stay and we mean business. Whoever you put out there on the field with us, we’re going to compete and do the best we can.”