Chiefs host Bengals, 49ers to Rams for Super Bowl berths – 95.5 WSB
A six-point win looked like a rout this wild weekend.
Even though it was in overtime.
Kansas City’s 42-36 win over Buffalo capped a divisional round in which the other three games were decided on field goals in the Finals, giving the visitors wins. The Chiefs and Bills scored three touchdowns and a last-second field goal in the final two minutes on Sunday night before two-time defending AFC champion Kansas City edged out an 8-yard touchdown catch from Travis Kelce during the first set of the extra period.
That set up a Bengals-Chiefs clash for the AFC crown next Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City will host this game for the fourth straight year as it seeks a third straight Super Bowl berth. The Bengals were last in the big game in 1989.
The Rams made it an NFC West Conference championship game with San Francisco by edging out defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay 30-27 earlier on Sunday. The 49ers lost to the Chiefs two years ago, a year after the Rams fell to the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Patrick Mahomes found 13 seconds of time to design a drive to Harrison Butker’s 49-yard field goal as regulation ended in Kansas City. The Chiefs won the toss, walked downfield against a depleted Buffalo defense and found Kelce in the corner of the end zone.
“We’re going to play this team many times and games like this,” Mahomes said of the Bills. “With this quarterback, with this coaching staff and the players they have, it’s going to be a lot of battles. I’m glad we have this one. We’re going to try to keep going, we have a good team that arrives next week, but we’ll be at Arrowhead for the AFC Championship.
Their 6-point margin on a classic weekend that NFL fans will long remember was double that of each of the other three divisional contests.
Rookie Evan McPherson won it 19-16 at Tennessee with a 52-yard field goal for Cincinnati, which emerged from the playoff desert last week winning for the first time since 1991 — yes, ’91 — with a victory at home 26-19 against Las Vegas. The Bengals (12-7), champions of the AFC North, continued with their first victory in the playoffs outside.
They will bring their growing momentum and confidence to Arrowhead Stadium.
The Bengals, who twice lost the Super Bowl to San Francisco in the 1980s, may have won their 2021 win in Week 17, knocking out the visiting Chiefs 34-31 in Cincinnati as Joe Burrow went 30 for 39 for 446 yards and four touchdowns. With the way this weekend’s games have gone, another such barn burner seems likely.
The Rams won in spectacular fashion after a massive flop in which they lost a 27-3 second-half lead. Matthew Stafford hit All-Pro unanimous receiver Cooper Kupp with a 44-yard pass in the final minute, then Matt Gay netted a 30-yard field goal to win it.
If this was the last game of Tom Brady’s illustrious title-filled career, it wasn’t easy to get out. The 44-year-old quarterback, aided by gifts from the Rams, nearly replicated the 25-point comeback against Atlanta in the second half of the 2017 Super Bowl. But soon after Leonard Fournette’s 9-yard run the tied, the Rams turned around and won it.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I mean, we definitely let them back into the game with a bunch of errors on offense,” Stafford said. “Our defense played exceptionally well. We need to clean up a few things, do a little better in the turnover department. It’s a tough team, man, that’s what we all are. I’m just happy to have won and to keep going.
Los Angeles (14-5) overcame those turnovers and will host San Francisco (12-7), who stunned top seeded Green Bay 13-10 on Saturday night at Lambeau Field, winning on Robbie Gould’s 45-yard field goal at the end of the allotted time. The previous week, the 49ers won 23-17 against NFC East winner Dallas, while Los Angeles beat Arizona, 34-11.
The 49ers are seeking their second Super Bowl appearance in three seasons, after losing to Kansas City for the 2019 title. They have swept the Rams this season, including winning 27-24 in overtime in the Finals to secure a spot in playoffs. The Niners were down 31-10 in Week 10 at home.
The team has only been swept four times in the regular season at home in playoff games, going 2-2. The Rams were one of those in 2004, beating the Seahawks twice in the regular season and again in the playoffs, in Seattle.
It’s a very cool and historic game for a spot in the Super Bowl – to be played at Rams Stadium, no less. San Francisco is 75-67-3 against its rival, but only 1-0 in the playoffs, a 30-3 win in 1989 on the Niners’ path to the NFL championship.
AP Pro Football writers Josh Dubow, Simmi Buttar and Dennis Waszak Jr. contributed.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.