Conference Championship weekend sets up Super Bowl Match-up


Photo via Charlotte Zaun

Bengals defeat the Chiefs to go to the Super Bowl

With high expectations, both the AFC and NFC Conference championship games have met the high bar they were given.
In the AFC, the Cincinnati Bengals shocked the highly touted Kansas City Chiefs in overtime, overcoming a once 18-point deficit. After going down 21-3 with two minutes left in the first half, Joe Burrow led the comeback with a 41-yard screen pass to Samaje Perine that put the game at 2 scores.
However, The Chiefs went right down the field, and were at the one-yard line with 5 seconds left in the half. Andy Reid decided to trust his offense and took a chance to go back up 3 scores, but were halted at the goal line, shutting down any momentum they had, and giving it right to the Bengals.
The second half was a bit of a snooze, with an Evan McPherson kick that put the Bengals down just eight. With about two minutes left in the quarter, however, Defensive Tackle BJ Hill came up with his first interception of his career to give the Bengals the ball with a chance to tie the game. They did just that. On the two-yard line, Joe Shiesty found his favorite target, Ja’Marr Chase in the corner of the endzone to put the game at 21-19. On the two-point conversion, Burrow found Trent Taylor, who made just his third catch of the season to tie the game up at 21 apiece.
The fourth quarter, for the most part, wasn’t entertaining, with another chip-shot field goal for McPherson to give the Bengals the lead. The Chiefs got the ball back with around 4 minutes to play, and ended up on the four-yard line, but a sack by Trey Hendrickson forced a Harrison Butker field goal as time expired to send us to OT.
The Chiefs seemed to get lucky again, winning the coin toss for the second week in a row, and having the chance to end it with a touchdown. But QB Patrick Mahomes forced a pass downfield to Tyreek Hill, and it was subsequently intercepted by safety Vonn Bell, giving the Bengals a chance to win with just a field goal. Burrow set up Evan McPherson from 31 yards out, and he kicked the Bengals to their first super bowl since 1988, completing the improbable and nearly impossible comeback.
In the NFC championship game, the Los Angeles Rams, led by Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald were able to defeat the San Francisco 49ers. Despite their home stadium looking like a 49ers home game, the Rams were able to crawl their way back to the super bowl.
The Rams seemed to be destined to take the lead in the first quarter, with the ball at the 49ers’ three-yard line, but a deflected Matt Stafford pass ended up in San Francisco hands, keeping the gridlock at 0-0. However, after the Niners had to punt, the Rams would score on their longest drive of the season in terms of plays, yards and time of possession, with an 18 play, 97 yard and almost 10 minute drive to take the lead with a pass to Cooper Kupp.
The 49ers would respond, with a screen pass that star Swiss-Army knife Deebo Samuel took 44 yards to the house to tie the game. A Robbie Gould field goal would put the Niners up at half, leading 10-7. The third quarter would give the Niners another boost, with a George Kittle touchdown to make it a two score game, forcing the Rams to have to make a ten point comeback in the fourth.
The Rams got rolling early in the fourth with Kupp again finding his way into the endzone for his second touchdown of the day. After the touchdown, however, it seemed grim for the Rams as coach Sean McVay used up all 3 of his timeouts with more than ten minutes left after two unsuccessful challenge calls and poor communication forced him to waste those valuable commodities.
Nonetheless, the Rams got the ball back and 49ers safety Jaquaski Tartt had the ball in his hands with a chance to intercept Stafford and quite possibly seal the game, but muffed it with no one around him, giving the Rams a glimmer of hope. Subsequently, a decent drive got the Rams in field goal range and kicker Matt Gay tied it up at 17 all with seven minutes left. An awful drive by the 49ers, that saw negative yardage handed Stafford the ball with six minutes, needing just a field goal to take the lead.
They took five of the six minutes off the clock, allowing Gay to convert a chipshot to make it 20-17, and Jimmy Garoppolo had about one minute to save the 49ers season. He threw a pick on the third play. It was a horribly ill-advised shovel pass that was deflected and went into the arms of Linebacker Travin Howard, and that sent Los Angeles to the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl 56 will air on NBC at 6:30 on February 13th, featuring the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams.