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Who is Evan McPherson?  Bengals rookie kicker continues historic season with FG start vs Titans

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Who is Evan McPherson? Bengals rookie kicker continues historic season with FG start vs Titans

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The Bengals and Zac Taylor knew they didn’t need to get too close to be within shooting range of Evan McPherson.

After intercepting Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill with 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter, they needed just one play to get from their 47-yard line to the Titans’ 34: a 19-yard pass from Joe Burrow at Ja’Marr Chase. Cincinnati then rushed twice to turn back time before taking a timeout to set up McPherson for the game winner.

As he has been all season, McPherson was on the money, drilling the game-winning kick from 52 yards to exit the Titans 19-16 and advance Cincinnati to the AFC Championship Game.

“He was talking to [backup quarterback Brandon Allen] as he came out to kick. He gave a little warm-up swing and he said, ‘Ah, looks like we’re going to the AFC Championship,’ right before he came out and kicked it,” Burrow said after the game.

MORE: Evan McPherson FG after INT end sends Cincinnati to AFC title game

Taylor said the team felt like they just had to get to the Titans’ 40, meaning he had confidence in his rookie kicker at least 58 yards out.

“Ice in his veins. Not much to say. He’s as cool as he gets,” Taylor said. “You have confidence that he’s going to be successful every time he gets up there. He definitely could have gone further than he threw him. We felt confidence, really, beyond the 40-yard line there. So he just stepped in. The moment is never too big for him. We’re happy to have him.

When was Evan McPherson drafted?

Kickers aren’t often drafted. Many NFL kickers have been undrafted free agents before making their mark in the league.

Cincinnati felt confident enough in McPherson’s ability to use one of their picks in the 2021 NFL Draft on him. He was taken in the fifth round, 149th overall, making him the 66th-highest drafted kicker in NFL history, according to Stathead. He was the only kicker selected in 2021 and the 233rd overall draft kicker in NFL history.

“He walked in and we knew exactly what we had at camp,” Burrow told CBS Sports’ Evan Washburn. “You can tell how a kicker is when he walks into the building and how he walks around the building and how he walks and how he talks to people. This guy is amazing.”

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McPherson did a lot in college to earn a draft pick. In three years at Florida, he made 149 of 150 extra point attempts and 51 of 60 field goal attempts. He set the SEC record with a career field goal percentage of .850.

Even before college, he stood out. He was a three-star rookie in 247Sports’ composite rankings, ranking at No. 1,486 nationally and as the No. 1 kicker in the 2018 class.

Evan McPherson’s success in the regular season

McPherson walked straight onto the court and proved he could make the difference with his leg.

In his first game, he threw a 34-yard field goal in overtime to beat the Vikings. Three weeks later, he left the Jaguars in a “Thursday Night Football” game.

Neither kick ended the regular season as its biggest. In Week 17, McPherson drilled a 20-yarder against the Chiefs as time expired to clinch Cincinnati’s first AFC North title since 2015.

McPherson finished the season having hit 46 of 48 PAT tries and 28 of 33 shots on goal. He came within a 50-yard field goal before tying Blair Walsh’s NFL rookie record for field goals over 50 yards. McPherson made 9 of 11 attempts. His nine successful kicks over the age of 50 were the most of any NFL kicker in 2021.

MORE: Titans tie Bengals after officials uphold Tennessee interception call

Perfect post-season

Only four rookie kickers in NFL history have scored four field goals in a single game, per Stathead. McPherson is now the only kicker to have done it twice, making him the only kicker — let alone rookie — to play two games in the same postseason with at least four kicks completed.

McPherson scored four field goals in a 26-19 win over the Raiders that moved Cincinnati to the divisional round. He had 12 of the Bengals’ 19 points on Saturday with four more against the Titans.

The last time a rookie kicker had four tries and kicked a winner in the same game was when the Steelers’ Chris Boswell sent a 35-yard try through the uprights against the Bengals in 2016 to stun Cincinnati and ending what had, prior to this season, been the team’s most recent trip to the playoffs.

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McPherson said after that game it was “every kicker’s dream” for the game to come down to his leg.

“It’s my job. It’s what I do for a living. It’s my job to stay cool, calm and collected in times like these and I’m so glad my team put me in position to succeed and give me the opportunity to win the game,” he said.

McPherson said if he felt he hit a good kick, he would turn to punter Kevin Huber and not watch the ball go by. McPherson said he knew he hit his 52 yards well.

“We saw it was a bad thing, but this time it was a good thing. And I looked [Huber], he’s like, ‘You did it,'” McPherson said. “And pretty much all that crossed my mind was that we got one more game. We are guaranteed to have one more game. We have another chance to go out and win another game and we are getting closer to our goal.”

Who is Evan McPherson? Bengals rookie kicker continues historic season with FG start vs Titans

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