49ers

Bengals advance to Super Bowl LVI, to face Rams

49ers

The Cincinnati Bengals are one win away from their first championship.

The Bengals erased an 18-point deficit to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 in overtime on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game, matching the biggest comeback in championship game history.

After Patrick Mahomes was intercepted by Vonn Bell on the first drive of overtime, Evan McPherson made a 31-yard field goal to complete the comeback and upset.

The Bengals, one of 12 NFL teams to have never won a championship, advance to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1988. They will play the Los Angeles Rams, who defeated the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, in Super Bowl 56 on Sunday, Feb. 13.

To get there, the Bengals had to erase what was a 21-3 deficit.

Mahomes capped an 11-play, 84-yard drive on the Chiefs' first possession by finding Hill cutting across the back of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown and 7-0 lead. He then found Kelce for a five-yard strike early in the second quarter and added a three-yard touchdown pass to Hardman on the following possession to push the Kansas City lead to 18.

The Bengals' Samaje Perine answered by taking a short pass from Burrow 41 yards to the end zone, bringing Cincinnati within 21-10 with 1:05 left in the half.

That was enough time for Mahomes and the Chiefs to get to the Cincinnati 1-yard line. After Mahomes and the offense were praised all week for their clock management in their win over the Bills in the divisional round, time ran out on the Chiefs in the half. With five seconds left, Mahomes converted a short pass to Hill, who was stopped short of the goal line by Eli Apple. Mahomes then attempted to call a timeout the Chiefs did not have, and Kansas City was unable to attempt a field goal before time expired.

 

After the Bengals added a field goal late in the third quarter, Mahomes was intercepted by B.J. Hill to give Cincinnati the ball at the Kansas City 30. That set up Burrow's 10-yard touchdown pass to Ja'Marr Chase with 14 seconds left in the third. Trent Taylor caught the ensuing two-point conversion, as the Bengals scored 11 points in 2:40 seconds to pull even at 21-21.

The Chiefs went three-and-out after Mahomes was sacked on third down to force a punt. Burrow was then intercepted on the first play by L'Jarius Sneed to give the Chiefs possession at their own 47-yard line.

Burrow escaped two near sacks to run for a seven-yard gain for the first down. Again facing third down, Burrow had an 11-yard scramble for a first down to extend the drive. A 34-yard completion to Tyler Boyd helped set up a 52-yard field goal by Evan McPherson to give the Bengals a 24-21 lead with 6:07 remaining.

The Chiefs marched down the field, setting up first-and-goal from the Cincinnati 5-yard line. Mahomes was then sacked on consecutive plays, fumbling the ball while backtracking on third down to push the Chiefs back to the 26-yard line. Harrison Butker then converted a 44-yard field goal as time expired to send the game to overtime.

It would be the final points put on the board this season by the Chiefs, who were looking to become the fourth team in NFL history to advance to three straight Super Bowls.

Mahomes attempted a deep pass on third-and-10 to Hill. Safety Jesse Bates tipped the ball from behind Hill into the hands of Vonn Bell, giving the ball to Cincinnati at their own 40-yard line. The Bengals primarily gave the ball on the final drive to Joe Mixon, whose 13-yard gain helped set up the winning field goal.

Mahomes' postseason record fell to 9-3 as he lost to a quarterback other than Tom Brady in the playoffs for the first time.

Burrow completed 23 of 38 passes for 250 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He became the first quarterback taken No. 1 overall in the draft to lead his team to the Super Bowl within his first two seasons.

Mixon finished with 88 rushing yards on 21 carries. Tee Higgins had 103 receiving yards on six catches.

The Bengals advance to the Super Bowl for the third time in franchise history (1981, 1988). They lost each to the 49ers.