Munich / Cincinnati – There are only four seconds left in the divisional round playoff game between the Tennessee Titans and the Cincinnati Bengals, the time is 16:16.
After the Bengals defense intercepted a pass from Ryan Tannehill in the final minute, quarterback Joe Burrow and receiver Ja’Marr Chase put their team within field goal range with a superb pass to the touchline.
The pressure was now on kicker Evan McPherson to put the ball between the posts to the roar of Titans fans in Nashville and the eyes of tens of millions of viewers around the world.
No doubts about “Money Mac”
And that’s exactly what McPherson did. No one on his team had any doubts that he would send the Bengals a round further. Immediately after the game, Burrow said on “CBS”: “The guy is incredible, he has ice in his veins, the way he acts, how he talks to people, you can tell immediately that he’s a great kicker.”
“Money Mac” himself, as he is called by his teammates, also had no doubts, as his quarterback said at the subsequent press conference: “He did a test swing with his leg before the kick and said casually, ‘Looks like we would go to the AFC Championship Game’. He’s amazing,” the playmaker reiterated his praise for the rookie.
“It’s important for me to have confidence and to always challenge myself,” McPherson told ESPN.
Not an easy start to the season
The season didn’t start so well for the 22-year-old newcomer to the Florida Gators in Ohio. In week five, he could have defeated the Green Bay Packers twice with a potential game-winning field goal, but missed both times. There have already been some small discussions about the rookie.
Where other, even experienced, kickers collapse mentally, McPherson remained stable. Not to be taken for granted, he was the only placekicker drafted in 2021. “We saw in training camp that there was something about him. Everyone in the NFL can put a ball through the posts, but not everyone can do it under that pressure,” said Joe Burrow after the Tennessee game.
Aside from the game against Green Bay, McPherson had an excellent season. Overall, he made 28 of 33 field goals, including each of 13 under 40 yards, and 46 of 48 extra points. In the playoffs, he’s still perfect with eight out of eight field goals and three out of three extra points, for which he received the ball from head coach Zac Taylor after the game in Nashville.
The unsung hero of the Cincinnati Bengals also broke records: Not only is he the youngest player to ever hit a field goal for 50+ yards, he also set the record for most 50+ yard field goals in a game with three transformed attempts.
Full of confidence in the AFC Championship Game
This self-confidence inevitably rubs off on the entire team. Not only McPherson, Burrow and Chase go onto the field with a big chest, the same applies to Tee Higgins, receiver number two and actually the entire defense.
Individually, the Bengals are not as plentiful as their upcoming opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs (LIVE on Sunday from 8:15 p.m. on ProSieben MAXX and then from 8:45 p.m. on ProSieben and in the stream on ran.de), when it comes to self-confidence, they are but at least equal to the opponent from Missouri.
When another important field goal attempt is due, the Bengals players and fans can almost sit back and relax. In the encounter between the two teams in the regular season (34:31), it was also the rookie kicker from Cincinnati who sealed the win.
Maybe they’ll say on the Bengals sideline before Evan “Money Mac” McPherson’s game-winning kick: “Looks like we’re going to the Super Bowl.”
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