Jacob Lev and Homero De La Fuente, CNN
The Kansas City Chiefs are advancing to Super Bowl LVII following a 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Sunday’s AFC Championship game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
After suffering a high ankle sprain last week in the Chiefs’ divisional round win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Patrick Mahomes led the team to victory in a back-and-forth game.
Kansas City took a 6–0 lead after two field goals and before halftime, Mahomes found his favorite target: tight end Travis Kelce for a touchdown to take a 13–3 lead. Kelce was listed as questionable to play coming into the game due to a back injury.
Just before halftime, the Bengals drove down the field and kicked a field goal to cut the deficit to 13-6.
On the Bengals’ first offensive possession of the second half, quarterback Joe Burrow found wide receiver Tee Higgins for a 27-yard touchdown run to close the game at 13. However, Mahomes clearly limped and the Chiefs answered with a laser touchdown throw to Marquez Valdes-Scantling to immediately take back the lead.
The Chiefs’ defensive unit shut down the Bengals’ high-powered offense until the first play of the fourth quarter.
On fourth down, Burrow ran the ball down the field and found Ja’Marr Chase for a strike from 35 yards to move Cincinnati deep into Kansas City territory. Two plays later, the Bengals scored on a 2-yard touchdown run by running back Samaje Perine to tie the game once again.
The Chiefs sacked Burrow on third down to give them the ball back with less than a minute left and the score tied 20. Chiefs returner Skyy Moore returned the Bengals’ punt 29 yards to set up the offense with a good position on the pitch. On third down, Mahomes scrambled and as he went out of bounds, Bengals defensive end Joseph Ossai shoved him and was called for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty that put the Chiefs in shooting range.
Kansas City kicker Harrison Butker knocked down 45-yard field goal to send the Chiefs back to the Super Bowl for the third time in four seasons.
Earlier in the day, the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 31-7, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia to advance to the championship game for the first time since the 2017-18 season.
The Eagles scored on their first possession and didn’t look back in their rout of the 49ers.
The 49ers were momentarily without rookie starting quarterback Brock Purdy after he suffered a right elbow injury in the first quarter on a hit by Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick that forced a fumble. Josh Johnson, who is San Francisco’s fourth quarterback, filled in for Purdy until the third quarter before being sidelined from the game with a concussion.
Playing on his injured elbow, Purdy rejoined the game but the 49ers offense struggled to score points.
Meanwhile, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and Philadelphia’s run game, ran all over the 49ers defense, notching for 148 rushing yards and scoring all four touchdowns on the ground. With his fourth quarter rushing touchdown, Hurts (15) passed Cameron Newton (14) for the most rushing touchdowns in a single season by a QB in NFL history, including playoffs, according to NFL research.
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