The Bengals were a stop or two away from forcing overtime when Joseph Ossai made as costly a mistake as one can make.
The Cincinnati defensive end was penalised for a late hit on Patrick Mahomes as the Chiefs quarterback ran out of bounds near the Bengals’ 40-yard line with eight seconds left in the fourth quarter and the score tied 20-20.
While Mahomes picked up a first down, the Chiefs had zero time-outs remaining and would’ve had one chance for a quick play before attempting a long field goal.
Watch every game of the NFL Post-season including the Super Bowl, LIVE on ESPN on Kayo Sports. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
Instead, the 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty put the Chiefs on the Bengals’ 27-yard line, and Harrison Butker nailed a 45-yard field goal with three seconds remaining to give the Chiefs a 23-20 win in the AFC Championship game and a berth in Super Bowl 2023 against the Eagles.
Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt was seen yelling about Ossai’s penalty after the game.
In footage captured by Spectrum News 1 Ohio reporter Katie Kapusta, a visibly upset Pratt was seen walking into the locker room while appearing to call out Ossai during an emotional outburst.
“The f**k? Why would you even touch the quarterback?” Pratt said.
But Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor insisted his side’s loss wasn’t solely due to Ossai’s clanger.
“It’s hard. This is emotional. We worked really hard to get here and any play that people feel like is left out there, you’re going to take it hard. We want guys like that – that this means a lot to. They care about it, care about their teammates.
“Joseph comes to work every day, man. He loves ball. He loves being part of this team. It didn’t come down to that play.”
Footage emerged of Ossai being consoled by fellow Bengals, including defensive end Sam Hubbard, after the play.
An emotional Ossai spoke with reporters post-game, with teammate BJ Hill standing beside him for the entire press opportunity. He said he was grateful for his teammates’ support.
“It means the world to me,” Ossai told reporters.
“These guys mean a lot to me. We come every day, and we work hard for each other. To know that they have my back … is giving me peace right now.
“I’ve just got to learn from experience and I got to know not to get close to that quarterback when he’s close to that sideline if there’s anything that could possible cause a penalty in a dire situation like that. I’ve got to do better.”
The Bengals had tied the game early in the fourth quarter after converting a fourth-and-6 at the Chiefs’ 41-yard line, when Joe Burrow connected with Ja’Marr Chase for 35 yards. Samaje Perine then rushed for a 2-yard touchdown.
But the Chiefs ultimately got revenge after the Bengals topped Kansas City in last year’s AFC Championship game.
“Oh, it aches, trust me, to be this close to … Our goal is to win the Super Bowl, so to be seconds away from getting back there and watching them celebrate, it’s horrible,” Taylor said.
“Because this team has invested so much in each other to get to this point, and you know we’ve been playing playoff football since Halloween, we just didn’t know it.”
Ossai, 22, was a third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft out of Texas.
The Nigeria native missed the 2021 season with a knee injury.
He had 3.5 sacks during the 2022 regular season and finished Sunday’s game with five tackles, including one for a loss, and two quarterback hits.
This article initially appeared on The New York Post and was republished with permission.
Leave a Reply