The Bengals walk-off victory had many components. Leading the way was quarterback Joe Burrow and rookie kicker Evan McPherson.
Head coach Zac Taylor: "(McPherson has) got ice in his veins there. There's not much to be said, he's as cool as it gets. You've got confidence that he's going to nail it every single time he steps up there. He definitely could have gone from longer out than what we kicked it from. We felt confident to get on the 40-yard line there. He just steps up. The moment's never too big for him."
Running back Joe Mixon: "Everybody talks about (Burrow's) arm, his swag, the way he approaches the game. No, like to me, it's his poise and that boy, he's got ice in his veins. Him and Evan McPherson. When a play is called and we got to deliver and we got to answer, them boys, they own it."
Taylor: "If I had the answer for why Joe Burrow is good at what he does then, I don't know. I'd sell that, I'd bottle it up and sell it. He's just special, that allows us to continue to call things the way we call them. Because even after a sack or negative play, or you still feel like we're always going to get it back with the weapons that we got.
"Joe's ability to put a hit behind him and move on to the next play and find a, one of his freak shows as he likes to call them you know, it makes our job a lot easier to play-callers.
Linebacker Logan Wilson: "Shooter McPherson … His demeanor never changes no matter how big the kick, no matter how small the kick. He's got all the confidence in the world and, we as his teammates have all the confidence in him."
CELEBRATE WITH CINCY
Plenty of the Who Dey faithful made the trip to Nashville and they were saluted in the postgame:
Taylor: I want these guys to be happy and enjoy it because we've been through some times when we didn't get a chance to join anything and you're miserable pretty much year-round. There's you've been there before, but our guys have earned this.
"They've earned the right to be excited. We'll put it to bed early tomorrow morning, obviously. These guys, the emotion that they feel winning a game like that, on the road in the playoffs, some of these guys have played in this league a long time and waiting for moments like these. It's going to be nothing to take away from our preparation for next week. I'm happy for these guys, they should enjoy it. Players and coaches, they put in a lot of hard work. I want to see them celebrate.
"This wins for everybody involved in this. I would imagine there's some pretty good celebrations going on back home. The orange in the crowd today was tremendous and it just felt like driving into the game, It was so cool to see so many Bengal fans that came. Let's find a way to get them to either Kansas City or Buffalo.
McPherson had plenty of admirers after he hit all four of his field-goal tries for the second straight playoff game:
Taylor on giving McPherson the only game ball: "We just kept that one singular one today. He stepped up big and, got us where we needed to go."
Burrow: "(McPherson is) unbelievable. He was talking to Brandon (Allen) as he was going out to kick. He give a little warm-up swing and he said, 'Oh, it looks like we're going to the AFC championship' right before he went out there to kick it … We knew exactly what we had as soon as he walked into the building in camp."
McPherson on the moment: "I was talking to Kevin (Huber) and I was like, 'All we need is an interception or a fumble recovery and, I know we'll get one play in field goal range.' I know we're going to end it there.
"That's a kicker's dream is to have the game on, your shoulders and just to, go out there and execute the way that we have all practice. That's what I told Kevin right before the kick, I'm like, 'Alright, we did this in practice, let's do it one more time."
BENGALS D WAS THE KEY
The defense won the turnover battle with three interceptions while also holding Titans star running back Derrick Henry to only 62 yards on 20 carries. On the first play of the game, safety Jessie Bates III caught an interception.Cornerback Mike Hilton and Wilson also caught one each with Wilson's setting up McPherson's kick.
Taylor on the interceptions: "It really set the tone, for two different reasons. Jessie allowed us to go get some points right out the gate, and take that early lead. In a game like that, where you're on the road and the crowd is into it kind of takes the crowd out of it for a moment, at least.
"Mike, just stealing points off the board. I know we didn't get a chance to do anything with it necessarily but, that was big because they were certainly in scoring position. Mike made a tremendous play and, I'm really happy that those guys stepped up."**
Wilson: "We try and get the ball. It was the same thing last week with Germaine (Pratt). As many times as we can get the ball back to our offense, so give them more opportunities to score, that's just, what we're trying to do as a defense. Yards do not equal points if you get a turnover like that.
"(The Titans) were marching on the field and Mike got the turnover in the red zone. Everyone thought they were probably going to score, but that turnover was huge. That's just kind of been our mentality on defense."**
Defensive tackle D.J. Reader: "As a team, we know the offense is gonna go out there and do their thing. If they don't, we're not worried about it, because we play defense. Our job is to get the ball back to them.
"Every week we go out there and we try to get the ball back to (Burrow). That's what we believe in as a team. That's where we're trying to get the ball to. No matter what's going on with him, we're going to go out there and get the ball back to him."
ON CLOUD (WITH) NINE
McPherson: "It's really special just that, our team is kind of creating our own legacy. I think this Bengals team will be remembered forever. The excitement that we've brought to, the city of Cincinnati, I think is awesome. The city's on fire. They'll probably burn it down tonight.
Wilson on the Super Bowl: "That was one of the first things I said in the locker room. I was like, 'Dude, we're one game away. One game.' We've got a big game in front of us, but, it's a huge opportunity for us."
Wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase: "It is fun, actually. It's been fun and we winning. Cool, cool with that."
Mixon: "I'm still dreaming right now, to be honest, I'm still dreaming. I feel like I'm (on) a cloud and I'm in the highest clouds you've ever imagined. I'm so blessed to be here, to be a part of this, something special. I'm so thankful for my teammates. So thankful for the fans, for all the support they came down here. I'm on an all-time high right now because words can't even explain it.
THE RIGHT MENTALITY
Reader: "We've been getting slept on the whole year. Disrespected. It's something we take pride of in this locker room. We got a lot of guys that go out there and fight every day … We take it as disrespect every time. All year it's been something we won't do this, we won't do that, we won't do this.
"We don't worry about the outside noise. We read it. We're not worried about it. We're confident in us. We feel like 'We the People'. We're going out to every game feeling like we confident, we need to be the ones to get beat.
"There's so much doubt every year, year in and year out, is doubt. There's a lot of guys came in this locker room. They wanted to change it. And that's what they're doing.
"You've seen the clippings, you see what's on Twitter … Like it's not a surprise. I get it. I get it. It's personal. It mattered to you every time.
"It's just what we do. Guys are out there playing, guys want to play football. They want to go out there and grind. There's a lot of guys who've been on this team have been passed on or moved from team to team … You've seen how many free agents we got it. I mean their old team didn't want them."
Burrow: "We're also a really young team … We don't know what we don't know. So we're out there playing football with our friends and so that's what it's like.
"I'm tired of the underdog narrative. We're a really, really good team. We're here to make noise and teams are going to have to pay attention to us. We're like I said, a really good team with really good players and coaches. We're coming for it all."