NFL Championship Weekend Recap
Superbowl LVI IS Set & Is Tom Brady Retiring?
After another exciting week of playoff football, we now know who will be facing off in Los Angeles in Super Bowl LVI. The Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams face off in two weeks to decide who will hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the day. You might be wondering, how did we get to this point? Well, that's why I'm here!
Before we get to the recap, I have to talk about Tom Brady and his retirement speculation. On Saturday, ESPN reporters Jeff Darlington and Adam Schefter broke the news that the seven-time Super Bowl winner would retire after 22 seasons. While Brady, himself, hasn't officially announced his retirement, I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up calling it a career. Expect more about Brady in the coming days. Now, on to the recap!
AFC Championship Game
4) Bengals: 27, 2) Chiefs: 24 Final/OT
Final Line: KC -7.0 Jake's Pick: KC
Cincy rallies from 18 down to Shock the Chiefs in OT Thriller
At the start of this season, the Bengals' odds of making it to the Super were 125-1. Now, they are one win away from their first Super Bowl, after pulling off the biggest AFC Championship comeback since 2006. Down 21-3 in the second, Joe Burrow or Joe Cool kept his calm and led the Bengals back, and thanks to Evan "Money" McPherson, the Bengals are one win away from destiny.
Right off the bat, it looked as if Kansas City would breeze their way into the Super Bowl, as Patrick Mahomes had a near-perfect first half, leading the Chiefs to a 21-3 lead with one minute left in the first half. At one point in that first half, Mahomes was 13-14 with 154 yards and three TDs.
However, Burrow kept his composure and connected with Samaje Perine on a 41-yard catch-and-run to cut the deficit to eleven.
The Chiefs got the ball right back, and it looked as if they were going to put the game on ice heading into halftime, as they had the ball on Cincy's one-yard line following a pass interference call on Bengals DB Eli Apple in the end zone. The Chiefs would fail to reach the end zone on two plays, and Apple redeemed himself on this game-saving tackle on Tyreek Hill to end the half.
That decision to run an extra play rather than kick the field goal proved costly for the Chiefs. From that point on, the momentum shifted in favor of the Bengals.
After McPherson's field goal cut the deficit to eight, the Bengals' defense stepped up and caused Mahomes to throw his first INT of the day. Burrow would then connect with Ja'Marr Chase to put them within two. The two-point conversion saw them tie the game at 21, heading into the fourth quarter.
Yes, all of the talks after the game were about the gutsy performance from Burrow, but I've got to give credit to the Cincy defense; they completely shut down the high-powered KC offense in the second half, as they failed to find the end zone. Mahomes had difficulty finding anyone, as Hill could not catch a ball in the second half.
Mahomes struggled mightily in the second half following his near-perfect first half, as he finished with 275 yards, three TDs, and two INTs.
The fourth quarter saw Joe Burrow convert on a couple of key third downs to set up McPherson's 52-yard field goal, giving them the lead with six minutes left in the game.
However, they gave Patrick Mahomes too much time (sorry, Bills fans), but the Bengals' defense prevented them from finding paydirt, so they settled for a Harrison Butker field goal to send the game to OT.
It looked like we would have another game decided by a coin flip, as the Chiefs won the toss and got the ball first to begin OT.
However, this time went slightly different for the Chiefs (queue the turnover).
Following Mahomes' interception, Burrow led the Bengals down the field to set up McPherson for another game-winning kick. The rest is history as the Bengals are going to their first Super Bowl in 31 years.
Burrow finished with 23-38 with 250 yards, two TDs, and one INT. With Chase bottled up for most of the game, Tee Higgins came up huge for the Bengals, hauling in six catches for 103 yards.
Cincy travels to LA as they look to capture their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
The Chiefs begin their offseason earlier than expected.
NFC Championship Game
6) 49ers: 17, 4) Rams: 20
Final Line: LAR -3.5 Jake's Pick: SF
Rams Finally Get Past the Niners to Get to second Super Bowl in 4 Years.
The Los Angeles Rams rallied from 10-points down in the fourth quarter to finally get past the San Francisco 49ers. They will now play in the Super Bowl in front of their home crowd to top it all off.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Rams opened up the scoring with a 16-yard pass from Matthew Stafford to Cooper Kupp.
The Niners responded quickly with a 44-yard catch-and-run by do-it-all receiver Deebo Samuel.
After a Robbie Gould field, the Niners took a 10-7 lead into halftime. Gould is now a perfect 21 of 21 in his postseason career.
Jimmy Garoppolo found George Kittle for a 16-yard strike in the third, and the Niners were up 17-7 heading into the fourth.
Right away, you knew Stafford wasn't going to let that get to his head, as he took the Rams down the field and found Kupp for his second TD of the day.
The Niners' defense played well for the most part, but there was one play in the fourth that could've changed the game for the better. As the Rams were to drive down the field to tie the game, Niners' DB Jaquiski Tartt dropped what should've been the game-sealing interception. The ball fell right in Tartt's hands, but he couldn't come up with it. May Gay would make a 40-yard field goal to tie the game.
After Gay's go-ahead field goal with over a minute left, the Niners had a chance to either tie or win the game. However, Garoppolo felt the pressure from Aaron Donald and the Rams' defense and turned the ball over, sealing the win for the Rams.
One player I have yet to mention is Odell Beckam Jr. Aside from Kupp, OBJ played an outstanding game and was a vital part of the Rams' offense. While Kupp led the Rams in receiving 142, OBJ recorded 113 yards on nine catches. Stafford finished 31 of 45 with 337 yards and one TD.
After spending 11 seasons with the Lions, Stafford had failed to win a playoff game. In just one season with the Rams, he has won three playoffs games and is playing in his first Super Bowl. For Garoppolo, this is likely the last time we see him in a 49er jersey, as I expect Trey Lance to be the man moving forward.
The Rams will face the Bengals in front of their home crowd in Super Bowl LVI.
The Niners have to decide what to do with Jimmy G.
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Jake Klausner covers all things sports for ThePyrrhic.com. Keep your eyes peeled for NFL Analysis, World Series Recaps, and more from Jake.
Follow him on Twitter @jake_klausner