The Kansas City Chiefs are headed to their third Super Bowl in the past four years after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship game Sunday night. Harrison Butker hit the game winning 45-yard field goal for the 23-20 win from Arrowhead Stadium.
Mahomes is shaking off an ankle injury
All the talk coming up in the Championship Round has surrounded Patrick Mahomes’ high ankle sprain last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. From the first series, the Kansas City quarterback looked mobile, but perhaps not as agile as we’re used to seeing him on a weekly basis. There were a few moments of discomfort throughout the game for the KC QB, but when most counted Mahomes took care of the business with his legs.
It was supposed to be a match between two top-flying teams who have become quite familiar with each other over the past few years. The Bengals have had Chiefs numbers in recent history, but that wasn’t the case in Arrowhead’s AFC title match.
The high-octane penalty we all expected got off to a slow start as the KC defense pressured Cincy QB Joe Burrow from first possession on. They had four sacks the first half, and It made it difficult for the Bengals gunslinger to feel comfortable in the pocket.
Slow onset for high-powered offenses
Despite the defensive dominance, Mahomes and the offense struggled to hit the ball in the end zone, settling for two field goals on their opening possessions. Cincinnati added a field goal to the scoreboard, and the Chiefs didn’t find the end zone until late in the first half. On 4th and 1, the Chiefs decided to let Mahomes make the most play and hit Travis Kelce for a 14-yard TD run to take a 13-3 lead with less than four minutes left in the second quarter.
A late Evan McPherson field goal to close the half cut the lead to a touchdown, and the Bengals offense finally turned around coming off the end of the first half. Burrow led the Bengals down the field and Tee Higgins hit a 27-yard TD run to tie the game at 13-13.
Kansas City will not take long to respond. They punted on the next possession as Mahomes drove an 11-play, 77-yard drive that ended with a 19-yard dart over the middle to Marquis Valdes-Scantling for a kickoff. After forcing a three-and-out for the Sensei, the Chiefs drive down the field again, however Mahomes committed a rare foul when the ball slipped out of his hands on a pass into the flat and the fumble was recovered by Sam Hubbard.
Six plays later, the Bengals tied the game with a Samaje Perine TD run from two yards out in the early stages of the fourth quarter.
Potaker with the winner of the game
Kicks from the Chiefs and a second interception left Burrow on the stage for Mahomes to steal the show late in the fourth quarter. With 30 seconds left on the clock, KC took over from their own 47-yard line after a stellar return from Sky Moore. Joseph Osai helped the Kansas City cause when Mahomes swooped in on a third-and-fourth offense attempt around midfield, got the first hit, and was hit late on by a Bengals fullback.. The penalty moved the Chiefs into field goal position and Butker drilled the game-winner from 45 yards with three seconds on the clock.
Mahomes’ looks weren’t perfect, but on a night when he couldn’t count on his mobility in the pocket, he went for 326 yards and three TDs on 29/43 passing, while Burrow went 26/41 with 270 yards, a TD and threw two interceptions. .
The Chiefs returned to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years and were assigned Showdown in the desert against the Philadelphia Eagles of Glendale, Arizona in two weeks.
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