Ja’Marr Chase arguably had the greatest performance for a rookie wide receiver in NFL history, finishing with 11 catches for 266 yards and three touchdowns in the Cincinnati Bengals‘ thrilling 34-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. The 266 receiving yards were the most for a rookie in NFL history, breaking a 43-year record held by Jerry Butler (who had 255 yards in 1979).
Chase’s historic performance certainly caught the attention of Patrick Mahomes, who had to send his postgame congratulations to the talented rookie. Mahomes seems to believe this won’t be the last time the Chiefs see Chase and the Bengals this year.
“Keep doing you,” Chase said on his talk with Mahomes after the game. “We’ll see you in the playoffs.”
The Bengals clinched the AFC North with their victory over the Chiefs, their first playoff appearance since the 2015 season. Cincinnati hasn’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season, losing seven consecutive playoff games since. The 31-year postseason victory drought is the longest in the NFL.
This year’s Bengals have an excellent opportunity to end that drought. Chase has already played a significant role in the turnaround, setting the NFL rookie record for receiving yards in the Super Bowl era with 1,429 — breaking Justin Jefferson’s record of 1,400 set last year. Joe Burrow has become a breakout star in year two, becoming the only player ever with consecutive games of 400 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. Burrow has 971 yards and eight touchdown passes with zero interceptions over the last two games.
“I’ve always kind of played with a chip on my shoulder, whether people are saying good things about me or bad things about me. I’ve been overlooked for a long time. It is what it is,” Burrow said. “People are going to say what they’re going to say, and that’s the spot that I’m in as quarterback.
“There is going to be a lot of criticism and there is going to be a lot of praise, and you just have to maintain your level-headedness and keep going.”
The Chiefs were knocked out of the No. 1 seed with the loss to the Bengals, and need a win in Week 18 along with a Tennessee Titans loss to regain the top spot. Cincinnati still has a chance to get the No. 1 seed, needing a win in Week 18 along with a Titans loss, Chiefs loss, and Patriots loss or a Bills win, Titans loss and Chiefs loss.
Mahomes and the Chiefs may actually see the Bengals again. Cincinnati isn’t putting anything past them right now.
“We’ll believe in anything. We’ve always felt like we can play with any team in this league, and the Chiefs have been the standard. They have — and they’re still the standard,” Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said. “They’ve done it with consistency. And we’ve won a big game here, but we’ve got to prove that we can do it consistently.
“And starting with next week, it continues to be a playoff mindset for us, and we’ve got to continue to prove ourselves. Again, it’s not going to be easy, but our guys are going to step up to the challenge.”