FULL BOX SCORE
- Patrick Mahomes paints another masterpiece. An entire week was spent closely monitoring Mahomes’ ankle, looking for signs of weakness just days after he battled a high ankle sprain in the divisional-round win over Jacksonville. As the clock hit triple zero, we realized that Mahomes’ rare skill set included the ability to play through pain. Mahomes completed 29 of 43 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns, keeping the Chiefs’ offense afloat in a second half in which they bogged down. Mahomes’ third-down touchdown pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling was his best play of the half until the Chiefs’ penultimate offensive play, when a slightly limp Mahomes went up on third-and-4, turning the corner to pick up the first down before being pushed late, drawing an unnecessary roughness penalty that gave the Chiefs the yardage they needed to attempt the game-winning field goal. Kansas City scored just 23 points, but the numbers don’t lie. Mahomes accounted for 323 of Kansas City’s 357 net yards Sunday and made the most important single play. He and the Chiefs return to the Super Bowl with a hard-earned victory, led by a rare talent who once again proved he is among the best in the sport.
- The Bengals’ modern offensive line is falling apart. Cincinnati felt pretty good about its chances going into the weekend, so much so that the city’s mayor delivered bulletin board material with a proclamation Friday that included multiple jabs at a team the Bengals have dominated over the past year. Much of their confidence came from the way the Bengals’ makeshift offensive line played against the Bills, a team that failed to harass Joe Burrow in their divisional round matchup. The same couldn’t be said Sunday, when the Chiefs racked up four sacks early and posted a QB pressure percentage of 50 in the first quarter. Cincinnati adjusted, devoting extra resources to Burrow’s defense and watching Kansas City’s pass rush drop below 25 percent over the final three quarters, but as the game entered its final minutes, the Bengals’ absences up front were inevitable. Burrough couldn’t settle comfortably on a drive the Bengals absolutely needed to generate points, and a third down by Burrough ended their hopes. It’s a story all too familiar to Bengals fans, who watched the Los Angeles Rams terrorize Burrow in Super Bowl LVI and responded positively to Cincinnati’s offseason investment on the offensive line. Unfortunately, the injuries once again mounted and prevented the Bengals from producing enough to earn their fourth straight victory over the Chiefs.
- Chris Jones delivers a signature performance. Jones had a fantastic career in his time in Kansas City and was paid accordingly, but he didn’t have a single postseason sack to his name Sunday. He made sure to change that fact permanently. Jones proved to be a problem for the Bengals early and often, recording a sack in the first quarter, beating backup right guard Max Scharping and recording six QB pressures in four quarters, the most in a playoff game of his career. His biggest moment came in a huge position: third-and-8 from the Cincinnati 38. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo moved Jones to the sideline for a one-on-one with right tackle Hakeem Adeniji, and Jones went over Adeniji’s outside shoulder, bringing down Burrow inflict a blow. The Chiefs kicked the game-winning field goal on the ensuing possession, sending Jones and Co. back to the Super Bowl. This time, they can directly credit their star defense for the win.
- Cincinnati’s repeat bid ends in heartbreaking fashion. Halloween served as a turning point for the Bengals, who lost to the Browns on Monday Night Football in blowout style and desperately needed to regroup if they had any hopes of defending their AFC title. They did just that, reeling off 10 straight wins and rediscovering their top form on both sides of the ball, turning into an explosive offense and enjoying contributions from their defense down the stretch. The Bengals were writing a similar story Sunday, erasing a 13-3 deficit to tie the game at 20 early in the fourth quarter. Cincinnati even overcame a questionable officiating call to force a punt and had a chance to go on the field and win, much like last year’s AFC title game. Instead, the offense sputtered and an unnecessary roughing penalty on Joseph Osai — who frantically chased a struggling Mahomes on third down before shoving him late — gave the Chiefs enough field position for Harrison Butker to make the game-winning 45-yard field goal. A game that seemed destined for extra time ended with Butker’s strike and tears for Osai, who had an excellent game before the penalty. Cincinnati was one Burrough signing away from getting another shot at the Lombardi Trophy. Instead, the Bengals will spend it at home watching their rivals take on the Philadelphia Eagles.
- The Chiefs put together a great Super Bowl game. The storylines run deep in this match. This will be the first Super Bowl with two black starting quarterbacks – Mahomes and Jalen Hurts. Travis and Jason Kelce will become the first brothers to face each other in the Super Bowl. Andy Reid, the longtime former Eagles coach who was immediately hired by the Chiefs after leaving Philadelphia, is at odds with his former employer. Those are just three of the many we’ll tackle in the coming weeks, but the strengths of both teams — and both of those quarterbacks — make for a pretty tight battle in the NFL’s final game of the 2022 season. We’ve got two weeks until they play out. on the field in Glendale, Arizona, which is just enough time to delve into the many intriguing threads that will make up the tapestry of Super Bowl LVII. Five years after winning the Super Bowl, the Eagles return with an almost completely different lineup. Meanwhile, the Chiefs are back in the biggest game for the third time in the last four years. Get ready for the superbowl.
Next Generation Game Stats: Chris Jones finished with six QB pressures and two sacks on 38 passes, marking the most pressures in a playoff game of his career.
NFL Research: Travis Kelce finished with seven catches for 78 yards and one touchdown on Sunday, passing Julian Edelman for the second-most receiving yards in NFL postseason history, trailing only the legendary Jerry Rice.