The Kansas City Chiefs are headed to their 3rd Super Bowl in 4 years
The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, Sunday night to advance to Super Bowl LVII.
It will be the Chiefs' third trip to the Super Bowl in the last four seasons.
In dramatic fashion, and with three seconds left in the game, Harrison Butker kicked a 45-yard field goal to put the Chiefs ahead.
Kansas City was aided on their game-winning drive by a Bengals blunder, when defensive end Joseph Ossai shoved quarterback Patrick Mahomes after he had run out of bounds — an unnecessary roughness penalty. The penalty put the Chiefs in field goal range, and Butker converted.
Mahomes showed minimal effects from a high ankle sprain suffered eight days earlier in the Divisional Round game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
While the Chiefs opened the game with a pair of field goals for an early lead, the standout unit in the first half was the defense.
Defensive tackle Chris Jones got his first career postseason sack in his seventh NFL season. It was one of four sacks the Chiefs forced in the opening half.
Jones added his second, and most important sack, on the Bengals final possession, which gave the Chiefs one more chance to score in regulation.
Most important, the defense kept the Bengals offense out of the end zone while building a 13-6 halftime lead. The Chiefs scored their only touchdown of the first half on a 14-yard pass from Mahomes to tight end Travis Kelce, when the Chiefs chose to forego their field goal attempt on fourth down.
The Chiefs entered the fourth quarter with a 20-13 lead, after a 19-yard touchdown pass to Marquez Valdez-Scantling at the 4:15 mark of the third quarter.
Cincinnati tied the game, 20-20, just 90 seconds into the fourth quarter. The Bengals tied the game twice, but never led.
Fans celebrate across the metro
Outside Arrowhead Stadium, fans of both franchises arrived hours before the game to tailgate in temperatures that hovered around 20 degrees.
“We actually wanted to get here last night but, you know, we didn't have gasoline to stay warm the whole time,” said Donnie Smith, whose crew came to the stadium around noon to pitch their tents.
Smith was feeling hopeful about a Chiefs win before the game. He and his group already had an after-party planned to celebrate the win.
“This city is not a fair weather-fan kind of city," said Aga Carpenter, who watched the game from Tanner's Bar & Grill in Lenexa.
"It’s amazing to be part of a winning city in Kansas City and it’s amazing to have such fan support and such an awesome fan base," Carpenter said.
Rick Draper and his sons Corbyn and Hoyt, who was celebrating his 7th birthday, drove to Kansas City from Utah for the game — about 19 hours — without any tailgating provisions of their own.
“The hospitality here is second to none. So we got fed and taken care of like family," Rick Draper said. “It’s been a two day journey to get out here and we wouldn't miss it for anything."
The tone at Johnny's Tavern in Overland Park shifted throughout the second half of the game, especially as the Chiefs' offense struggled.
A taunting call against Chiefs offensive tackle Andrew Wylie and a third-quarter fumble from Mahomes elicited angry shouts and stunned silence, respectively.
The energy returned in the fourth quarter, and fans roared after Bengals quarterback Joe Burrows was sacked on Cincinnati's final possession.
After watching the win from a jam-packed Gael's Public House on Troost Avenue, Melissa Hopkins said she is ready for the Super Bowl.
"I know that the Bengals are a good team, but we did that,” she said. “Mahomes is the 'G.O.A.T.' He played that with a hurt ankle. I’m just grateful man, I’m grateful.”
'The work's not done'
“We needed to get this win,” Mahomes said after the win. “We wanted to play this team and got them at Arrowhead Stadium. We were able to finish the job this time.”
Prior to Sunday's game, the Chiefs had lost three straight matchups against the Bengals — a fact seized upon on social media by Bengals fans, players and even the Cincinnati mayor.
"I heard a lot of stuff. I mean the mayor came at me, man," Mahomes said in a post-game press conference.
"The work's not done," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said after the game, as his team was awarded the Lamar Hunt Trophy.
The Chiefs will now face the Philadelphia Eagles, who beat the San Francisco 49ers earlier on Sunday to secure the NFC's berth in the Super Bowl, set for Sunday, Feb. 12, in Glendale, Arizona.
“This is pretty spectacular,” said Reid about returning to the NFL's championship game. “To be able to go back, (it’s) quite an honor.”
Each side in that fixture will have a player named Kelce. It's the first time in Super Bowl history that two brothers will play against each other — tight end Travis Kelce for the Chiefs and center Jason Kelce for the Eagles.
“Cool scenario to be in,” said the Chiefs' Kelce, who finished the game with seven catches for 78 yards. “My mom can’t lose!”
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