The Kansas City Chiefs are on their way to their third Super Bowl in four years after beating the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship on Sunday night. Harrison Butker hit a game-winning 45-yard field goal to seal the 23-20 win at Arrowhead Stadium.
Mahomes shakes off ankle injury
All the talk that got into the championship round revolved around the status of Patrick Mahomes’ severe ankle sprain he sustained against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. From series one, the Kansas City quarterback looked mobile, but perhaps not as agile as we’re used to seeing him weekly. There were a few awkward moments throughout the game for the KC QB, but when it mattered most it was Mahomes who took care of his legs the most.
It should be a duel between two high-quality teams that have become quite familiar in recent years. The Bengals have had the Chiefs numbers in recent history, but that wasn’t the case in Arrowhead’s AFC title game.
The high-octane shootout we were all anticipating started slowly as the KC defense pressured Cincy QB Joe Burrow from first possession. They had four first half sacks and made it difficult for the Bengali gunslinger to feel comfortable in the pocket.
Slow start for strong attacks
Despite the defensive dominance, Mahomes and the offense struggled to get the ball into the end zone, contenting themselves with two field goals in their first two possessions. Cincinnati added a field goal to the scoreboard, and it wasn’t until late in the first half that the Chiefs found the endzone for the first time. On the 4th and 1st, the Chiefs opted to let Mahomes play on a rollout, and he hit Travis Kelce for a 14-yard TD to go 13-3 in in the second quarter with less than four minutes left to take the lead.
A late field goal from Evan McPherson to end the half cut the lead to a touchdown, and Bengal’s offense eventually turned around coming off halftime. Burrow propelled the Bengals downfield and hit Tee Higgins for a 27-yard TD to tie the game at 13-13.
Kansas City wouldn’t take too long to respond. They hit back on the next possession when Mahomes led an 11-play, 77-yard drive that ended with a 19-yard dart down the middle to Marquez Valdes scantling for the go-ahead touchdown. After forcing Cincy to a three and out, the Chiefs drove back down the field, but Mahomes made a rare mistake when the ball slipped out of his hands on a pass into the flat and the fumble was cleared by Sam Hubbard.
Six games later, the Bengals would end the game with a run from two yards by Samaje Perine TD in the early stages of the fourth quarter.
Butker with the winner of the game
Punts by the Chiefs and Burrows’ second interception nights set the stage for Mahomes to steal the show late in the fourth quarter. With 30 seconds left, KC took over from their 47-yard line after a fantastic punt return from Skyy Moore. Joseph Ossai helped the Kansas City cause when Mahomes climbed out of midfield on a 3rd and 4th, picking up the first tee shot and then getting hit late by the Bengals defender. The penalty put the Chiefs in field goal position and Butker drilled the game winner from 45 yards with three seconds on the clock.
Mahomes didn’t look perfect, but on a night when he couldn’t rely on his mobility in the pocket, he still went for 326 yards and three TDs at 29/43 passing while Burrow was 26/41 with 270 yards , a TD, walked and threw two interceptions.
The Chiefs are back in the Super Bowl for the third time in four years and are set a showdown in the desert against the Philadelphia Eagles of Glendale, Arizona in two weeks.