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Patrick Mahomes and Chiefs defeat Bengals to reach Super Bowl

Patrick Mahomes should have been limp, or at the very least limited.

A sprained right ankle sustained a week before the AFC championship game made the Cincinnati Bengals favorites over the Mahomes and a Kansas City Chiefs team that hosted the conference title game for the fifth straight year.

But on Sunday night, Mahomes showed yet again why he’s regarded as perhaps the best quarterback in the NFL and a generational talent.

Mahomes made the key play when he scrambled for a first down – and absorbed a late hit – to set up Harrison Butker’s 45-yard field goal with three seconds left that gave the Chiefs a 23-20 victory before 73,426 at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs snapped a three-game losing streak to the Bengals, who defeated them in last season’s AFC championship game, and advanced to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years.

“We wanted to play with this team, and we took them to Arrowhead Stadium and we were able to finish the job this time,” said Mahomes. “And the work isn’t done for us.”

The Chiefs will face the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles, a 31-7 Sunday winner over the San Francisco 49ers, in Super Bowl LVII on February 12 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

For anyone familiar with NFL history, he might as well be nicknamed Andy Reid Bowl.

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid celebrates with defensive end Frank Clark following the team’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

(Brynn Anderson/Associated Press)

The Chiefs coach is in his 10th season in Kansas City after 14 with the Eagles, who he led to the Super Bowl in 2004.

“I had a great time there,” Reid said of his years in Philadelphia. “I am happy for them. Happy for the city.”

No one has been happier than Mahomes returning to the Super Bowl. He won the NFL Most Valuable Player Award in 2018 and won the Super Bowl the following season.

But he fell short of back-to-back titles as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. And he suffered a three-game losing streak to the Bengals and quarterback Joe Burrow.

“When I first got into the league, it all happened so fast,” he said. “I won the MVP. I won the Super Bowl.

“I thought it was like this. … Now that I’ve faced failure, losing the AFC championship, losing the Super Bowl, I know how much hard work and how much daily effort it takes.

Mahomes and his teammates needed no further motivation to go into Sunday’s game. But the Bengalis provided it.

Cornerback Mike Hilton nicknamed Arrowhead Stadium “Burrowhead”. Even the mayor of Cincinnati has swung into action.

“Burrowhead my ass,” Travis Kelce said during a televised interview after the game.

Mahomes said he and his teammates heard the barbs.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow carries the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs in the second half.

(Brynn Anderson/Associated Press)

“The boys were probably as excited as I’ve ever seen them attend a football game,” Mahomes said. “A lot of trash talk from a lot of different places.”

Mahomes shrugged off the talk and injury and played a game short on magic but long on clutch play.

On a day featuring 22-degree kickoff heat and 10-degree wind chill, Mahomes completed 29 of 43 passes for 326 yards, including touchdown throws to Kelce and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

Only appeared limited a few times. In the third quarter, Mahomes rolled to his left and lunged back to his right to complete a pass. But as he ran back to the group, he was limping noticeably for the first time.

“It definitely didn’t feel right,” she said.

The pain was worse on the next series when he attempted to recover a ball that slipped out of his hands and was recovered for a fumble by the Bengals.

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker celebrates the team’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC championship game.

(Brynn Anderson/Associated Press)

Burrow was also soaking up the blows. A Chiefs defense led by tackle Chris Jones and Frank Clark sacked Burrow five times – four in the first half – and rookie cornerbacks Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams intercepted passes.

Burrow completed 26 of 41 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown.

And the Chiefs continued to give him an opportunity to repeat last season’s championship game performance, when he brought the Bengals back from a 21-3 deficit to win in overtime.

After Kansas City took a 13–6 halftime lead on two field goals and Kelce’s touchdown catch, the Chiefs’ inability to take full advantage of opportunities seemed to set them up for another disappointing showing against the Bengals.

Burrow’s touchdown pass to wide receiver Tee Higgins early in the third quarter tied the score, 13–13. Bengals running back Samaje Perine’s touchdown run early in the fourth quarter tied the score, 20-20.

“The tide was turning towards us,” Burrow said. “It felt like we were just looking for a way to win this game.”

Williams’ interception with less than seven minutes left gave Mahomes a chance, but the Chiefs failed to capitalize on it. The defense, however, forced the Bengals to punt, and Skyy Moore’s 20-yard return gave Mahomes the ball at the Chiefs’ 47-yard line with 30 seconds left.

On third and fourth, Mahomes scrambled for a first down and then got a late hit by Bengals linebacker Joseph Ossai. A 15-yard penalty for needless roughing moved the ball to the 27 and Butker’s kick cleared the goal post for the victory.

“It was pure grit,” Reid said of Mahomes’ performance. “For Pat doing what she did, and that ride at the end, I can’t say enough. He is the MVP in my eyes.

General manager Brett Veach said: “People don’t realize how hurt he was. … It only adds to his already great legacy.

Aware of Veach’s comments, Mahomes said he still has work to do.

“My goal is to win a Super Bowl,” he said. “For me, the job isn’t done.”

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