July 5, 2022

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The Sports Fanatics

NFL Week 17 grades: Bengals get an ‘A’ for wild upset of Chiefs, Steelers get ‘A-‘ in Big Ben’s home farewell

It took six years, but the Bengals are finally back on top of the AFC North and they got there by beating the Chiefs at their own game. 

In an AFC showdown that actually lived up to the hype, the Bengals topped the Chiefs 34-31 in a wild shootout where Joe Burrow was so impressive, he might have done enough to put himself firmly in the MVP conversation. One week after throwing for 525 yards, Burrow was just as good against Kansas City, throwing for 446 yards and four touchdowns. 

The Bengals offense has looked borderline unstoppable over the past two weeks with Burrow making clutch throw after clutch throw, and on Sunday, most of those clutch throws went to Ja’Marr Chase, who put himself squarely back in the Offensive Rookie of the Year race (against Mac Jones) with a history-making performance that saw him catch 11 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns. 

Not only did Chase break the Bengals franchise record for receiving yards in a game, but he also set the NFL rookie record for most receiving yards in a single-game, topping a mark that had stood since 1979 when Buffalo’s Jerry Butler finished with 255. 

The reason Chase was able to set the record is because he kept coming up with big plays when the Bengals needed them the most. His first score of the game might have been the biggest. With the Bengals trailing 14-0, Chase cut the Chiefs’ lead in half with a 72-yard score where he weaved around Kansas City’s entire defense. 

Chase also had touchdown catches from 69 and 18 yards against Kansas City. 

Although all three touchdowns were important, you could argue that none of them would qualify as his biggest play of the game and that’s because his biggest play came on a third-and-27 with the Bengals at the Chiefs’ 41-yard line late in the fourth quarter. 

With the game tied at 31, the Bengals were staring at a possible punt or long field goal attempt if they didn’t convert, but they didn’t have to worry about either of those options, because Chase and Burrow connected for a huge 30-yard gain. 

That third down conversion allowed the Bengals to melt the final 3:14 off the clock. Thanks to that conversion, Evan McPherson was able to win the game with a 20-yard field goal that he hit as time expired. With no time left, that meant that Patrick Mahomes never got the ball, which is why Chase’s conversion was so important. 

By beating the AFC’s top team, it’s starting to feel like this Bengals team needs to be considered as one of the top contenders in the conference, and if Burrow and Chase keep playing the way they’re playing, they might also be able to make some history in the playoffs by leading the Bengals to their first postseason win in more than 30 years.

The Bengals don’t know who they’ll be playing in the playoffs, but the important thing is that they do know they’ll be there and that should scare the other teams in the AFC. 

Alright, let’s get to the grades for every game from Week 17.

Cincinnati 34-31 over Kansas City

Chiefs-Bengals grades by Tyler Sullivan (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Buffalo 29-15 over Atlanta

Falcons-Bills grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Chicago 29-3 over N.Y. Giants

Giants-Bears grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

New England 50-10 over Jacksonville

Jaguars-Patriots grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Tampa Bay 28-24 over N.Y. Jets

Buccaneers-Jets grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

L.A. Rams 20-19 over Baltimore

Rams-Ravens grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Las Vegas 23-20 over Indianapolis 

Raiders-Colts grades by Josh Edwards (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Tennessee 34-3 over Miami

Dolphins-Titans grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Philadelphia 20-16 over Washington

Eagles-Washington grades by Jeff Kerr (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

San Francisco 23-7 over Houston

Texans-49ers grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Seattle 51-29 over Detroit

Lions-Seahawks grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

New Orleans 18-10 over Carolina

Panthers-Saints grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

L.A. Chargers 34-13 over Denver

Broncos-Chargers grades by Jared Dubin (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Arizona 25-22 over Dallas

Cardinals-Cowboys grades by Patrik Walker (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Green Bay 37-10 over Minnesota

Vikings-Packers grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Pittsburgh 26-14 over Cleveland (Monday)

Browns-Steelers grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)