By Jacob Lev and Homero De La Fuente
KANSAS CITY, MO (Newsource) — The Kansas City Chiefs are advancing to Super Bowl LVII following a 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship game on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
After suffering a high ankle sprain last week in the Chiefs’ Divisional Round win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Patrick Mahomes led the team to a victory in a back-and-forth game.
Kansas City got out to 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.
Right 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 to tie up the game at 13. However, a clearly hobbled Mahomes and the Chiefs responded with a laser touchdown throw to Marquez Valdes-Scantling to take the lead right back.
The Chiefs defensive unit shut down the high-powered Bengals offense until the first play of the fourth quarter.
On fourth down, Burrow heaved the ball down the field and found Ja’Marr Chase for a 35-yard strike 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 yet again.
The Chiefs sacked Burrow on third down to give them the ball back with less than a minute left and the score tied at 20. Chiefs returner Skyy Moore returned the Bengals punt 29 yards to set the offense up with good field position. On third down, Mahomes scrambled and as he went out of bounds, Bengals defensive end Joseph Ossai pushed him and was called for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty which put the Chiefs in field goal range.
Kansas City kicker Harrison Butker knocked down the 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 championship game for the first time since the 2017-18 season.
The Eagles scored on their first possession and didn’t look back in the rout of the 49ers.
The 49ers were momentarily left 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 the fourth string quarterback for San Francisco, filled in for Purdy until the third quarter before being ruled out of the game with a concussion.
Playing on the injured elbow, Purdy re-entered the game but the 49ers offense struggled to tally any points.
Meanwhile, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia run-game, ran all over the 49ers defense, notching 148 rushing yards and scoring all four touchdowns on the ground. With his rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, Hurts (15) passed Cameron Newton (14) for most rushing touchdown’s in a single season by a QB in NFL history, including playoffs, according to NFL Research.
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