Staff Writer: Colton Almeida
The AFC and NFC Conference Championships are officially in the books. The stage is now set for Super Bowl 57 in Arizona.
The Philadelphia Eagles punched their ticket with a 31-7 beatdown of the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship, while the Kansas City Chiefs escaped with a narrow 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship.
The Eagles and Chiefs will take the field in Glendale, Arizona, on February 12th, at 6:30 P.M.
But before we set our sights on the big game, let’s take a look back at the exciting Championship Sunday that was.
Eagles Trounce Niners in One-Sided Affair
The Niners-Eagles battle was supposed to be a smash-mouth, physical game, one reminiscent of old-school football. However, after an injury to 49ers’ quarterback Brock Purdy, the expected back-and-forth battle faded into a massacre.
It was all Philly Green after a second-quarter Christian McCaffrey touchdown, one that would end up being San Fran’s lone score of the afternoon.
Veteran journeyman QB Josh Johnson was thrust into action for the 49ers, becoming the 4th quarterback to play for them this season. Purdy had provided a consistent, game-manager presence since he took over for the loaded Niners offense. He entered the game undefeated.
Johnson later injured himself after slamming his head into the turf. Purdy would then return to action, only to complete just one pass the entire second half.
The writing was soon on the wall for San Francisco, as they simply could not overcome their compromised attack.
On the Eagles’ side, the defense continued to showcase its tenacious pass rush, and Jalen Hurts and the offense did enough to roll to a comfortable home victory.
Now, an even greater threat awaits the Eagles, as Patrick Mahomes stands in their way of the franchise’s second Lombardi trophy.
Hobbled Mahomes Delivers Alongside Controversial Calls
The appetizer that was the Niners-Eagles gave way to the main course of the day, where the Bengals and Chiefs dueled in a rematch of last year’s AFC title game.
Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow was seeking a fourth consecutive win over Mahomes and company, as he entered the game 3-0 all-time against the vaunted Chiefs. Earlier in the week, Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton proudly declared the Chiefs’ home stadium of Arrowhead as “Burrowhead,” a comment that did not sit well with Chiefs fans.
The previous three matchups in the series had all been decided by three points, as the Bengals won 34-31, 27-24, and 27-24. This time around, it was the Chiefs that got it done by three points.
Superstar Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes entered the game with a high ankle sprain, and his mobility was clearly affected. However, this did not stop him from making critical throws down the stretch.
A few calls had seemingly been going in the Chiefs’ favor when late in the game, tied at 20, Mahomes was pushed slightly late out of bounds by Bengals’ Joseph Ossai. This prompted a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty, one that put the Chiefs in go-ahead field goal range.
Harrison Butker would, in fact, deliver the game-winner with a 45-yard field goal seconds later.
Social media saw many fans claiming the Bengals were jipped. Ultimately, while a bit ticky-tack, the personal foul on Ossai seemed to be the correct call.
The Chiefs are now on their way to a 3rd Super Bowl appearance in the past 4 seasons as they look to capture the franchise’s 3rd Lombardi trophy.