Pitt alum and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd played in his first career playoff game on Saturday evening, facing the Las Vegas Raiders at Paul Brown Stadium, and he made the most of it, as he came up with what proved to be a pivotal touchdown reception late in the second quarter of the wild-card game.
The scoring play came on a 3rd-and-4 with two minutes left in the first half, as Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow rolled to the right to avoid pressure from Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby. As Burrow approached the sideline, he tossed a ball into the back of the end zone and found Boyd as whistles from the officiating crew sounded.
Boyd reeled in the pass for a touchdown to put his team up 20-6, but the officials stopped to discuss it before signaling the score. The play was also reviewed and was the subject of controversy, as it appeared that Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow failed to get the throw off before stepping out of bounds. But a subsequent replay showed that Burrow’s right foot was planted inbounds on the hashmark and his left foot was several inches above the white paint as he released the ball. The timing of the whistles was also problematic, as the Raiders may have thought the play was over. However, the play was upheld despite that.
Boyd’s touchdown reception proved vital to the outcome of the game, as the Raiders quickly responded with a touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Zay Jones to make it 20-13 at halftime and the second half was light on scoring, with each team only able to add six points on field goals. As a result, the Bengals won 26-19 and would not have prevailed over the Raiders had Boyd not come up with that catch.
The win was monumental for Boyd, the Bengals and Cincinnati as a whole, as the team had failed to make the playoffs once in Boyd’s career prior to this season, and the Bengals’ last playoff win came on Jan. 6, 1991, over the Houston Oilers, three years before Boyd was born. However, with the Bengals now loaded with young talent and Boyd well positioned as a six-year veteran, the team and the Pitt alum may find the next few seasons more prosperous than the last several.
With the win, Boyd and the Bengals will advance to the divisional round of the playoffs, where they will either meet the Tennessee Titans or the Buffalo Bills. And that matchup will take place next weekend.