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A.F.C. Championship: Kansas City Beats Cincinnati, 23-20, With Late Field Goal


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs have the very best record within the N.F.L. prior to now five seasons, winning 64 games.

Yet for all that winning, the Cincinnati Bengals had proved to be Kansas City’s kryptonite. The Bengals had beaten the Chiefs 3 times in a row, including in last yr’s A.F.C. championship game.

The teams met again on Sunday in a rematch that might determine who would face the Philadelphia Eagles within the Super Bowl on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Ariz. And the Bengals appeared on the verge of upsetting the Chiefs yet again, just as that they had done the previous 3 times.

But Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes took over with 30 seconds remaining within the fourth quarter. On a hobbled right ankle, he scrambled 5 yards for a primary down on the Cincinnati 42-yard line and was shoved after he was out of bounds. The following 15-yard penalty was the difference maker for kicker Harrison Butker, whose 45-yard game-winning field goal just passed the cross bar with three seconds remaining, giving the Chiefs a 23-20 victory.

“Sooner or later in games, you’ve gotten to place all of it on the road,” Mahomes said about his late scramble.

Kansas City will now head to the Super Bowl for the third time in 4 seasons. The sport will feature the highest seeds from each conferences for the 14th time in Super Bowl history. Kansas City Coach Andy Reid will face his old team, the Eagles, and Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce will play against his older brother Jason, the middle on Philadelphia.

Kansas City Coach Andy Reid will face his former team, the Eagles, within the Super Bowl.Credit…David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Chiefs were only slight favorites heading into the sport; Mahomes was recovering from a high ankle sprain he sustained per week ago against Jacksonville within the divisional round, and Travis Kelce had back spasms. Mahomes didn’t scramble for a lot of yards, but he was capable of run out of the pocket to purchase time to search out receivers.

“I didn’t have that burst I normally have,” Mahomes said. “But I used to be capable of do enough to get out of bounds.”

Though he wasn’t comfortable planting his right foot at times, Mahomes finished the sport 29 for 43 passing for 326 yards and two touchdowns.

He led Kansas City on three scoring drives in the primary half, including a 14-yard touchdown strike to Kelce on fourth-and-1. Kansas City’s defense sacked Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow 4 times in the primary half after notching none when the teams met in December.

“It was pure grit for him and Kelce,” Reid said of Mahomes and his tight end.

However the Bengals didn’t panic. They’d trailed by 7, 14 and 18 points of their last three games against Kansas City, and so they won every time by 3 points. After gaining no yards on offense in the primary quarter, the Bengals got here alive within the second quarter, notching two field goals and heading into halftime behind by only one rating, 13-6.

Burrow, who in his third season has emerged as one among the league’s top passers, went 26 for 41 for 270 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He also had a team-high 30 yards rushing.

On the Bengals’ first drive of the second half, Burrow picked up where he left off, leading the Bengals on a 62-yard drive that ended with receiver Tee Higgins leaping over a defender to grab a 27-yard pass near the pylon in the long run zone to tie the rating at 13.

Joe Burrow threw for 270 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.Credit…Denny Medley/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Like in last yr’s A.F.C. title game, the 2 rivals traded blows for much of the second half and seemed destined for additional time again.

Mahomes, who had been visibly limping as he ran to his left on the previous possession, led Kansas City on a powerful 11-play drive. It ended with Mahomes, under pressure within the pocket, throwing a 19-yard pass to receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling on the goal line.

On their next drive, the Chiefs tried to construct a cushion that the Bengals wouldn’t have the opportunity to beat. But Mahomes, out of the shotgun, lost control of an attempted pass that was ruled a fumble and recovered by Cincinnati defensive end Sam Hubbard on the Kansas City 45-yard line.

The Bengals cashed in on the chance. On a fourth-and-6, Burrow threw a 35-yard pass to receiver Ja’Marr Chase in double coverage. Two plays later, running back Samaje Perine crossed the goal line to tie the sport again at 20.

The Bengals’ defense appeared to shut down Mahomes twice on the following drive, but one play was called back since the referee stopped the clock before the snap. On the do-over play, the Bengals were called for defensive holding, which gave Kansas City an automatic first down.

The Kansas City drive fizzled. But Burrow tried to do an excessive amount of on the subsequent drive. He threw to receiver Tee Higgins in double coverage, and the pass was tipped by safety Bryan Cook and intercepted by cornerback Joshua Williams.

Bryan Cook and Joshua Williams, right, combined for an interception of Joe Burrow within the fourth quarter.Credit…Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

With slightly below seven minutes remaining, Kansas City appeared poised to grab the lead after Mahomes connected with running back Isiah Pacheco, who broke free from a tackle and scrambled 16 yards down the sideline. But again, the Bengals shut down the drive. Reid selected to punt and that forced the Bengals to begin their last drive deep in their very own end of the sector.

With two and a half minutes remaining, the Bengals got down to steal one other game from Kansas City. But penalties undid their drive, and Kansas City, after a 29-yard punt return, took over with 30 seconds and two timeouts.

That was on a regular basis Mahomes and the Chiefs needed to rewrite the script against the Bengals, and earn one other trip back to the Super Bowl.

“I’m riding a wave at once,” Reid said of the chance to face his old team.

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