Patrick Mahomes spent most of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game making plays with his right arm, but a run on his injured ankle for a first down in the closing seconds lifted the Kansas City Chiefs into a Super Bowl LVII against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Chiefs defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, on Harrison Butker’s 45-yard field goal with 3 seconds remaining. The winning kick came with an assist from an unnecessary roughness penalty on Bengals linebacker Joseph Ossai, who hit Mahomes after the quarterback had gone out of bounds.
“At some points in games, you’ve gotta just put it all on the line,” Mahomes said. “The defense gave us a couple chances to get in field goal range, we didn’t get there. The defense got another stop for us and I knew I was going to get there somehow.
“So I just put it all on the line and we got in field goal range, and we’re at Arrowhead now and we’re in.”
The Super Bowl will feature a matchup of coach Andy Reid’s current team vs. the team he coached for 14 seasons.
The Chiefs also snapped a three-game losing streak to the Bengals, a run that included last season’s AFC Championship Game. The loss was Cincinnati’s first in 11 games.
Mahomes, who sustained a high-ankle sprain in last week’s Divisional Round victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, was 29 for 43 passing for 315 yards and TD passes to Travis Kelce and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
The Chiefs harassed Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow all game, sacking him five times. Still, Burrow very nearly led Cincinnati to yet another victory over Kansas City. Burrow was 26 of 41 for 270 yards, but he also threw two interceptions, including one by Joshua Williams with 6:53 to play.
The Chiefs, who lost three of their receivers to injuries during the game, had a chance to take a two-score lead late in the third quarter. Leading 20-13, an unforced error turned the tide of the game.
On first-and-10 from the Cincinnati 46, Mahomes fumbled as he cocked his arm back to throw. Sam Hubbard recovered at the Chiefs 45 with 55 seconds to go in the quarter.
KC’s defense apparently had forced a three-and-out, but on the first play of the fourth quarter, Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor dialed up a throw on a fourth-and-6, and Burrow connected with, who else, Ja’Marr Chase for 35 yards down to the Chiefs 9. Two plays later, Samaje Perine scored from the 2 to tie the score 1:30 into the fourth.
The Chiefs return to the Super Bowl for the third time in four seasons and the fifth time overall. They won after the 2019 season, defeating the San Francisco 49ers.