Bengals marvel at Evan McPherson's clutch gene after kicker's GW FG sends them to AFC title game

Evan McPherson is a rookie, but did not look like one Saturday night.

McPherson used his right foot to put 13 of Cincinnati's 19 points on the board in the Bengals' 19-16 win over the top-seeded Titans in the Divisional Round. The last three mattered the most and sent Cincinnati to its first AFC Championship Game appearance since the 1988 season.

"Ice in his veins," Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said of McPherson during his postgame interview on CBS. "Rookie kicker. Unbelievable. He came in and we knew exactly what we had in camp. You can tell how a kicker is when he walks in the building and how he walks, how he talks to people. That guy's unbelievable."

The first-year kicker has not missed a single field-goal attempt since Dec. 5. He's made four-plus field goals in three of his last four games. The kid is simply dialed in.

"He's got ice in his veins," said Bengals coach Zac Taylor, who awarded McPherson the game ball. "There's not much to be said."

Cincinnati would not be here without the contributions of McPherson. The Bengals have needed every one of his successful kicks in wins over Kansas City (a division title-clinching victory), Las Vegas (the club's first playoff win in 31 years) and finally, Tennessee. Each time the Bengals have asked McPherson to come through, he's delivered.

Saturday night, the job required McPherson to drill three kicks from 45 or more yards out, including two kicks from 50-plus. He cashed in on every single one, applying a pretty fade to an early attempt against the wind and using the same strategy to nail the game-winner.

"As the kick was sailing through the air, like I do normally, I guess, which is good and bad, I turn to Kevin [Huber] whenever I know I hit it good and I don't even watch the ball go through," McPherson said. "We've seen it be a bad thing, but this time it was a good thing. I looked at him and he said, 'You did it!' Pretty much all that was going through my mind is we get one more game, we're guaranteed one more game. We get another chance to go out, win one more game and get closer to our goal."

The moment can often be too big for many kickers both young and old. The team's fate rests on the leg of one seldom-used specialist in a high-pressure situation, one that has broken many a boot in the past.

Not McPherson, who said "it's a kicker's dream to have the game on your shoulders."

"This is my job. This is what I do for the Bengals," McPherson said. "It's my job to stay cool, calm and collected in moments like those. I was just so happy for my team to put me in position to succeed and give me the opportunity to win the game."

Should he find himself in a similar position next weekend, the Bengals just might be headed to the Super Bowl. He'll certainly be prepared for the moment.

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