The Kansas City Chiefs face the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC championship game Sunday at 6:30 pm ET on CBS.
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs hosted an NFL-record five consecutive conference title games and are the No. 1 seed in the AFC. But the rising Bengals have won 10 straight games dating back to the regular season, and Cincinnati has defeated Kansas City in its most recent three meetings.
All eyes will be on Mahomes’ right ankle. The star quarterback sprained his high ankle last week during the team’s divisional win against the Jacksonville Jaguars but practiced all week before Sunday’s conference championship game at Arrowhead Stadium.
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Keep track of all the news, notes and events related to the AFC championship game in the USA TODAY Sports live blog:
SECOND FOURTH: Chiefs intercept Joe Burrow late in the second quarter
With less than three minutes left in the first half, Joe Burrow was intercepted by Chiefs cornerback Jaylen Watson. Burrow’s pass was intended for wide receiver Tee Higgins, but Watson had a good jump on the ball and caught it.
SECOND FOURTH: Chiefs score first touchdown of the game
On 4th-and-1 with less than four minutes left in the second quarter, Patrick Mahomes had to scramble to create time and threw a 14-yard touchdown run to tight end Travis Kelce.
Kansas City’s touchdown extended its lead to 13-3.
SECOND FOURTH: Chiefs 6, Bengals 3
The Bengals are on the board and have cut their deficit in half.
Joe Burrow threw a nice pass to tight end Hayden Hurst in the end zone, but Chiefs safety Justin Reid broke up what could have been a touchdown run.
Instead, Bengals kicker Evan McPherson made a 30-yard field goal with 8:36 left in the second quarter to narrow the Kansas City lead to 6-3.
Bengals catcher Tyler Boyd, who extended the drive with two catches on the drive, appeared to be hurt after his second catch. He was checked on the sidelines before the basket.
The Chiefs have announced that Kadarius Toney is questionable to return
Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter and the team has announced that the comeback is questionable.
Toney was injured after catching a 9-yard catch in the first quarter.
It appeared that Toney slipped and fell after making the catch while trying to get past the first down marker.
Toney, a former Giants first-round pick who was acquired by the Chiefs this season, is playing in his first career playoff game. So far you have two goals.
SECOND FOURTH: Chiefs 6, Bengals 0
Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker kicked a 24-yard field goal to help Kansas City take a 6–0 lead on the first play of the second quarter.
This was the second field goal of the game for the Chiefs, who were unable to capitalize offensively with touchdowns.
END FIRST FOURTH: Chiefs 3, Bengals 0
Well, the Bengals are certainly lucky that the Chiefs didn’t capitalize as much as they could have.
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked three times and the offense accounted for zero net yards in the first quarter. Kansas City had 109.
The Chiefs nearly took a 10–0 lead as running back Isiah Pacheco drove into the end zone, but a holding call by Chiefs offensive lineman Andrew Wylie nullified the touchdown.
Mahomes was unable to convert a third-and-goal from 19 yards, and the Chiefs were lining up for a field goal.
In another sense, there is still a win for the Bengals. After forcing the Chiefs to settle for two field goals on their first two drives, the Bengals were just one drive away from taking the lead.
Contributor: Jarrett Bell
The Chiefs lose the game, taking a 3-0 lead after the first drive
Chiefs coach Andy Reid may regret throwing the gauntlet flag over this one.
Kansas City challenged a ruling on the field of an incomplete catch and was thrown out.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw a nice pass to receiver Kadarius Toney, who was unable to secure the football as he hit the deck after the play.
The kick clearly came into play and the Chiefs missed a timeout after losing the challenge.
The Chiefs capped off their first drive with a 43-yard field goal by Harrison Butker to take a 3–0 lead with 8:54 left in the first quarter.
FIRST FOURTH: Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed out with an injury
One of Kansas City’s best defensive players was injured on his first drive of the game in the first quarter.
Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed appeared to headbutt after attempting to tackle Bengals backup running back Samaje Perine.
Sneed went courtside to be evaluated for a head injury.
Luckily for the Chiefs, the Bengals’ first drive resulted in quarterback Joe Burrow being sacked by Chiefs defensive lineman Frank Clark.
The Eagles go to the Super Bowl
The Eagles defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-7 in the NFC championship game. Philadelphia outscored San Francisco in all stages of the game.
The game quickly spiraled out of control for the 49ers as quarterback Brock Purdy suffered an elbow injury in the first quarter. Purdy later returned to the game but was unable to pitch due to his injury.
Chiefs, Bengals announce inactive players
Chief QBs Shane Buechele, DE Joshua Kaindoh, T Darian Kinnard, TE Blake Bell, WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR Justin Watson and DE Malik Herring are inactive Sunday, announced the team.
The Bengals announced QB Jake Browning, RB Chris Evans, CB Jalen Davis, G Alex Cappa, OT Jonah Williams, DE Jeff Gunter and DT Jay Tufele are inactive.
Patrick Mahomes got advice from Tom Brady after his division win
The Chiefs quarterback revealed to reporters this week that he spoke with Brady following Kansas City’s win over Jacksonville.
“I talked to Tom (Brady) for a bit. I have a good relationship with him now,” Mahomes said. “He gives me some advice to help me. Why wouldn’t you want to learn from the GOAT? Whenever someone like that wants to give me advice, I will take it.
Brady got the better of Mahomes in the 2018 AFC championship game when he was the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots, and Brady beat Mahomes in Super Bowl 55 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Bengalis have history on their side
In addition to beating the Chiefs three straight, the Bengals are a perfect 3-0 in AFC championship play. Cincinnati is the only undefeated organization in AFC title games.
Mahomes (ankle) has been a full participant in workouts all week and is expected to start on Sunday. Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (back) is considered questionable but should play, as is wide receiver Mecole Hardman (pelvis).
Bengals guard Alex Cappa (ankle) and left tackle Jonah Williams (knee) were both ruled out for Sunday’s game.