Miami—The Kansas City Chiefs will meet the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl after the two top seeds won their Conference Championships in contrasting style on Sunday.
While the Eagles had it easy against injury-hit San Francisco 49ers, winning 31-7, the Chiefs needed a field goal three seconds from the end to beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20.
The wins set up what should be an enthralling contest between two of the most exciting and entertaining quarterbacks in the NFL with the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes up against Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts.
The February 12 clash in Arizona will also pit Chiefs coach Andy Reid against the team where he spent 14 years as head coach.
The Eagles sealed the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl appearance—and second in five years—with an emphatic victory in the NFC Championship game at Lincoln Financial Field.
The 49ers’ hopes of victory were upended after a disastrous first half that saw starting quarterback Brock Purdy—himself the team’s third choice signal-caller —injured on the team’s opening drive.
Back-up Josh Johnson—the fourth choice Niners quarterback—also departed injured in the third quarter.
All of Philadelphia’s touchdowns came via their ground game, with running back Miles Sanders scoring twice, Boston Scott adding a third before quarterback Jalen Hurts burrowed over in the third quarter.
The Eagles piled up 148 rushing yards throughout from 44 carries.
“I’ve dreamed about this, and all the guys on this team have dreamt about this their entire lives,” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said afterwards.
“To be able to do this together with a bunch of men that love each other, that are connected to each other and would do anything for each other—it’s pretty sweet.”
Bengals threaten another comeback
Harrison Butker converted the 45-yard game winner for the Chiefs, after a costly penalty against the Bengals, to grab the victory after Cincinnati—who had won their last ten games—had threatened another comeback win.
Chiefs quarterback Mahomes came into the game still nursing an ankle injury picked up in last week’s divisional round win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, while his favored target, tight-end Travis Kelce, had been dealing with a back injury picked up at practice on Friday.
While the quarterback was less mobile than usual and ended the game limping at times, he was able to deliver the key plays down the stretch.
Indeed, any serious concerns the Chiefs had about their two key players eased in the second quarter when Mahomes rolled right and found Kelce with a 14-yard touchdown pass to make it 13-3 for Kansas City.
The Cincinnati offense sprung into life after the interval and tied up the score at 13-13 when Burrow went deep with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Tee Higgins.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling then kept a Chiefs drive alive with a smart reach-out for a first down and the receiver finished off the 11-play, 77-yard drive, collecting a 19 yard pass down the middle from Mahomes.
But the Bengals again showed their resilience and after a Mahomes fumble led to a turnover, Burrow led the Bengals down the field on a drive that featured a brilliant 35-yard pass to Ja’marr Chase and Samaje Perine rushed up the middle for a two-yard touchdown to make it 20-20.
The Chiefs got the ball for the final time with 30 seconds left and with the pressure on, at third and four, Mahomes used his legs to make first down but after he ran out of bounds he was barged to the ground by Joseph Ossai.
The resulting 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness took the Chiefs within field goal distance and Butker kept his cool to set off the party at an ice-cold Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs will hope Mahomes can use the two weeks before the Super Bowl to get himself fully healthy, but the quarterback said he had no choice but to push himself through pain at the end.
“At some points in games, you’ve got to just put it all on the line,” he said.
“I knew I was going to get there somehow.”