Patrick Mahomes suffered the first setback on his badly sprained right ankle and was hit late by Joseph Osai, giving Harrison Butker a 45-yard field goal with just seconds left to give the Kansas City Chiefs the lead. in a 23-20 victory Cincinnati Bengals Sunday night in the AFC title game.
The Chiefs finally beat the Bengals after three straight losses, including a three-point overtime loss in last year’s title game and The Philadelphia Eagles play – Coach Andy Reid’s old team – in the Super Bowl for the third time in four years.
“I’ve seen them all year, great quarterback, great whole team,” Mahomes said of the Eagles. “It will be a big challenge for us, but I respect that first. I don’t think we have any smokes, but we’ll be ready to go in the Super Bowl.”
Mahomes, who injured his ankle against Jacksonville in the divisional round, threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns, despite ultimately losing three wide receivers to injuries. Marquez Valdez-Scantling led the way with 116 yards and a touchdown, while Travis Kelce — bad back and all — had seven catches for 78 yards and 78 yards.
However, it wasn’t his strong right arm that saved the leaders, but Mahomes’s injured right ankle.
“At certain points in games, you have to put everything on the line,” Mahomes said. “The defense gave us chances to get into the field goal area, we just didn’t get there. I knew the defense would find another stop for us and somehow I would get there. So I put everything online and we got into the field and now we’re at Arrowhead and we’re in.
The Chiefs got a crucial sack from Chris Jones to force a punt with 39 seconds left, and return man Skye Moore broke free on the return for 29 yards. On 3rd-and-4 at the Bengals’ 47, Mahomes escaped the pressure and plowed into the Bengals’ sideline, only to pick up a first down before Osai got behind him.
The free kick flags fly, the ball goes 15 yards and Booker’s shot is good.
“We don’t make it about one game. “There were a lot of plays we left today that could have put us in a better position,” Bengals coach Zach Taylor said. “The nature of this football team, that will never change. We have the right people in the locker room, the right guys leading this team and organization.
Joe Burrow, who was sacked five times and ultimately sacked surprisingly, finished with 270 yards and two touchdowns for the Bengals. Tee Higgins caught six balls for 83 yards and a score.
The Chiefs managed to do what the Buffalo Bills couldn’t do in last week’s divisional contest: run through an ailing Bengals offensive line that lost two starters to injuries and another to a sore knee.
Burrow was sacked three times in the first quarter alone, and the Bengals offense didn’t gain a single yard.
Mahomes, who had been in the news all week about his ankle, scored on Kansas City’s opening drive. And when the Chiefs got the ball back, Mahomes did it again, but after Kadarius Toney failed to pull in for a good touchdown — the incompletion was repeated on review.
Cincinnati finally moved the ball in the second quarter, but had to settle for an Evan McPherson chip-shot field goal.
The Chiefs finally got there late in the second quarter, moving quickly downfield behind some nice tackles by Valdes-Scantling. The Bengals held on 3rd-and-1 at their 14-yard line, but the Chiefs went and Mahomes nailed Kelce with a touchdown covered by Jesse Bats III.
The Bengals drove 90 yards in the final minutes but added a field goal to take a 13-6 halftime lead.
But their offense was hitting its stride — and another classic was brewing.
After the Chiefs went three-and-out to start the second half, Burrow led the Bengals down the field, switched for a third down on defense, got into a yawning hole and hit Higgins from 27 yards out to tie the game at 13-13.
Mahomes, suddenly throwing three wide receivers down with injuries and starting to fumble, loaded up on plays. Valdes-Scantlig responded with a throw to third down to regain the lead.
The Chiefs had a chance to get some breathing room late in the third quarter, but Mahomes somehow lost control of the ball before throwing a pass and the Bengals went out at the buzzer. Six plays later — including a daring fourth-down throw from Barrow to Ja’Marr Chase — Samaje raced into the end zone to tie Perry at 20.
Burrow gave the Chiefs a chance on third down when a deep throw to Higgins was hit in the air and picked off by rookie cornerback Josh Williams. Mahomes managed to move the Chiefs up the middle, but two runs went nowhere and his throw to Jerick McKinnon on third down was too short, forcing a punt in Bengals territory.
The Chiefs defense gave Mahomes and their offense one more try, though. It was a chance they would take.