The Bengals pulled off an incredible 18-point comeback, matching the largest comeback in NFL playoff history.
It’s the Bengals’ first trip to the big game since the 1988 season.
Here are the top plays from Championship Sunday.
Big time stop
With the Rams threatening to score first in this game, the 49ers defense got a much-needed interception on third down to get off the field and keep the Rams off the board.
The usual suspect
The Rams needed points, so they went to their one-man touchdown machine Cooper Kupp to give them a 7-0 lead.
The Rams went to their All-Pro wide receiver to score, and the 49ers went to their All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel for a response. Samuel took a 44-yard screen pass to the house to tie the game at seven apiece.
The Kansas City Chiefs wasted little time getting things going in the first quarter. Patrick Mahomes continued his efficiency from last week, dissecting Cincy’s defense with an 11-play, 84-yard scoring drive on K.C.’s first possession. He found Tyreek Hill trekking across the back of the end zone for the game’s first score.
While the Chiefs dinked and dumped on their first drive, they took the top off of the defense on their second.
Mahomes connected with Mecole Hardman for a 44-yard play on his first pass of the drive, before he flashed his nifty running skills inside the 20, maneuvering out of the pocket to buy time for his favorite red-zone target – Travis Kelce – to get open. K.C. took a 14-3 lead early in the second.
Have yourself a half, Mr. Mahomes! After jumping out to an early 14-3 lead, Mahomes brought his team down the field again with ease, dropping a dime to Hardman for K.C.’s third TD in as many drives.
The Bengals’ offense was quiet for the most part in the first half, but Samaje Perine quickly changed that theme with a 41-yard dash to the end zone on a screen play.
The Chiefs have shown they can score in bunches, and they found their way to the red zone again after getting the ball back with just under a minute to play in the second quarter.
But with five seconds left on the clock and the ball on the 2-yard line, K.C. opted to try for six rather than kick a field goal, and came up short. Eli Apple made the big stop for Cincy after giving up a pass interference earlier in the drive.
To beat Mahomes, you’re going to have to step out of the norm, and the Bengals’ defense did just that with a huge interception – his first in a conference championship game.
As soon as K.C. went to one-on-one coverage on Ja’Marr Chase, Cincy took advantage, going over the top on a tough fade route to bring it within two. Joe Burrow found Trent Taylor in the flat for a crucial two-point conversion to tie the game after an 18-point deficit.
One for the home team
K.C. came away with a pick of its own, courtesy of L’Jarius Sneed on a wondrous diving reception.
The score remained locked at 24-21 for the next several minutes. K.C. got the last crack at the end zone with time winding down, but Cincinnati’s Sam Hubbard forced a crucial sack to take the Chiefs out of the red zone.
That left the game in Harrison Butker’s hands – or should we say legs. The sure-footed Butker sent K.C. to a second consecutive OT period with a 44-yard FG.
Expect the unexpected
The Chiefs won the toss, much to the elation of the team’s home crowd. But their joy quickly turned to sorrow, thanks to Vonn Bell, who collected a game-changing INT on a tipped pass intended for Tyreek Hill.
Onwards and upwards
Evan. McPherson. After a game-winning FG to send the Bengals to this game, the rookie kicker continued his historic campaign with the biggest kick of his life: A 31-yarder from the right hash to vault Cincy to Super Bowl LVI.
Get more from National Football League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more.