The Kansas City Chiefs — coming off of a win in what some have called the greatest game ever played — had one more task in front of them to advance to a third consecutive Super Bowl. The Cincinnati Bengals — who in Week 17 were the last team to defeat the Chiefs — loomed in the AFC Championship game. Rather than taking revenge on the Bengals, the same script played out as the Chiefs played a dominant first half, only to see the Bengals come back and win 27-24 in the second thirty minutes.
The Chiefs won the coin toss and deferred. The Bengals started the first drive of the game on the 25-yard line after a touchback. They gained only five yards before ending with a three-and-out. Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay Jr. had an outstanding breakup on Joe Burrow’s third-and-5 pass to tight end C.J. Uzomah. The Chiefs took over the ball on their own 15-yard line after the punt.
The first two plays for the Chiefs were a rush by (and a pass to) running back Jerrick McKinnon that combined for 22 quick yards. Near midfield, the Bengals appeared to stop fullback Michael Burton on a third-and-1, but the Chiefs challenged the spot of his forward motion. The ruling was overturned, giving Kansas City a new set of downs at their own 47-yard line. McKinnon immediately took the ball into Bengals territory with a nine-yard run. A ten-yard pass to Travis Kelce and a Mahomes 11-yard scramble took the Chiefs to the Bengals 23. A short pass to Tyreek Hill set up first-and-goal from the ten-yard line. On the next play, Mahomes escaped pressure and made an incredible throw to Hill in the corner of the end zone to give the Chiefs a 7-0 lead.
Another touchback started the Bengals at their own 25. The Chiefs again quickly forced a third-and-5, but Burrow escaped pressure and ran for 8 yards to the 38. On third-and-2 from the Bengals 46-yard line, a short pass to Tyler Boyd barely reached the line of gain. The Bengals converted another third-and-5 on a pass to Boyd to take the ball to the Chiefs 37-yard line. Running back Joe Mixon then broke through for a 23-yard rush to the 14. From there, Burrow threw three consecutive incomplete passes to the end zone. Kicker Evan McPherson kicked a 32-yard field goal to narrow the Chiefs’ lead to 7-3.
Starting the next drive from their own 25, Mahomes began with a 44-yard pass to Mecole Hardman to the Bengals 31-yard line, bringing the first quarter to a close. Short gains by McKinnon and Hill took the Chiefs to the Bengals 5-yard line, where they faced third-and-2. Mahomes faced heavy pressure, scrambling in the pocket long enough to find Kelce for a touchdown to extend the Chiefs lead to 14-3.
The fifth drive of the game started with another touchback. Burrow instantly faced heavy pressure from defensive linemen Mike Danna and Derrick Nnadi. Mixon then rushed for 12 yards to advance to the Bengals’ 37. Two plays later, Gay and Nick Bolton stopped Mixon for a one-yard gain, setting up third-and-6. A pressured Burrow was incomplete on a short pass to running back Samaje Perine. The Chiefs took possession at their own 28-yard line after a punt out of bounds.
Two rushes by Clyde Edwards-Helaire — and a Bengals offsides penalty — quickly moved the Chiefs to their own 43-yard line, before a pass to Kelce advanced to the Bengals’ 38. Edwards-Helaire rushed 14 yards to the 24. He then carried most of the Bengals front seven to the 20 for four more yards. On third-and-1 from the Bengals 15, Mahomes found Kelce, who took the ball to the 3-yard line to set up first-and-goal. A short pass to Hardman immediately crossed into the end zone, extending the Chiefs’ lead to 21-3.
The first returned kickoff of the game started the next Bengals drive at their own 31-yard line. Burrow was hit as he threw his first pass of the drive: a six-yard completion to Ja’Marr Chase. Burrow converted yet another third-and-5 with an eight-yard pass to Tee Higgins. Burrow then made his longest completion of the game to Higgins for 18 yards to the Chiefs 38-yard line, taking the first half to the two-minute warning. Gay broke through to drop Mixon for a two-yard loss. On the next play, Perine caught a short pass, which he took 41 yards for a touchdown to narrow the Chiefs lead to 21-10.
Byron Pringle caught the kickoff in front of the end zone and was only able to advance the ball to the 19-yard line. Mahomes completed a deep pass to Hill to quickly advance to the Bengals 48-yard line. Another 14-yard pass to Hill moved to the 33-yard line and into field goal range. Passes to Kelce and Pringle brought the ball to the Cincinnati 15-yard line, where the Chiefs took their final timeout with 13 seconds remaining in the half. A pass interference call in the end zone to Hill put the ball at the 1-yard line for first-and-goal. The Chiefs were unable to score a touchdown on two pass plays, bringing the first half to a close still leading 21-10.
Pringle took the second-half kickoff out of the end zone to start the Chiefs at their own 21-yard line. A rush by McKinnon and pass to Pringle gave the Chiefs a new set of downs at their own 33. The Bengals forced the Chiefs’ first punt of the game after incomplete passes to Hill and Kelce. Tommy Townsend punted the ball 57 yards. The Bengals took possession at their own 17-yard line after a short return.
The Bengals started the drive with a deep pass to Higgins that moved to the Chiefs' 39-yard line. A short rush, a delay of game penalty and an incomplete pass then brought up third-and-14. Burrow was incomplete deep to Higgins, forcing a punt. Hardman called for a fair catch at the Chiefs 7-yard line.
Rushes by Edwards-Helaire and Hardman took the ball to the 20-yard line. On third-and-6, Mahomes was incomplete to Pringle, forcing another punt. The Bengals took over at their own 35-yard line after Townsend’s punt.
The Bengals gained a first down on a Mixon rush, a short pass, and quarterback sneak by Burrow. Burrow escaped intense pressure to finally find a big completion to Chase, putting the ball at the Chiefs' 32-yard line. A pass interference call against Rashad Fenton gave the Bengals another first down — before Mixon took a short pass to the Chiefs’ 8-yard line to set up first-and-goal. On the next play, the Chiefs sacked Mixon for the first time when Melvin Ingram dropped him for a seven-yard loss, before deflecting a screen pass on second down from the 15-yard line. A short pass to Perine held the Bengals to a 31-yard field goal, narrowing the Chiefs’ lead to 21-13.
Another touchback started the Chiefs at the 25-yard line. McKinnon started the drive with a seven-yard run. On the next play, however, a Mahomes pass was deflected and caught by defensive tackle B.J. Hill, putting the Bengals in business at the Chiefs' 27-yard line.
A pass to Chase took the Bengals to the Kansas City 5-yard line. Two plays later, Burrow found him again for a touchdown, tying the game at 21 after a successful pass to Trent Taylor on the two-point conversion.
Following another start from their own 25-yard line, the third quarter came to a close with the Chiefs facing third-and-3 from the 32-yard line after a catch by Kelce. Mahomes took a sack on the play, forcing another punt. The Bengals took over at their own 34 after a return by Taylor.
L’Jarius Sneed — covering Chase — intercepted Burrow on the first play of the drive, giving the Chiefs the ball back at their own 47-yard line. But the Chiefs were unable to take advantage of the momentum shift as Mahomes took another third-down sack to force another punt — which Townsend put into the end zone, starting the next Bengals drive at their own 20-yard line.
The Chiefs had opportunities early to force the Bengals to go three-and-out. Bolton had an interception pass through his hands. Burrow escaped Chris Jones in the backfield twice to scramble to the 31-yard line for a new set of downs. Burrow then scrambled for 11 yards on another long-distance third down — taking the ball to the Cincinnati 45-yard line. After an offsides penalty gave the Bengals first-and-5 from midfield, a catch-and-run by Higgins went for 16 yards to the Chiefs 34-yard line. The Bengals had to settle for a long field goal attempt. McPherson was good from 52 yards, making the score 24-21 and giving the Bengals their first lead of the game.
The Chiefs began their suddenly needed comeback bid at the 25-yard line with just over six minutes remaining in the game. The Chiefs had short gains until an 18-yard pass to Kelce took the ball to the Bengals' 38-yard line. A nine-yard rush by Hardman and a 14-yard rush by McKinnon took the game to the two-minute warning with a first-and-10 for the Chiefs at the Bengals 15-yard line. Mahomes escaped sacks for short scrambles before finding Kelce on a third-and-2 pass that barely made the line to gain, setting up first-and-goal from the 5-yard line. But Mahomes was sacked on second down, setting up a crucial third-and-goal from the 9-yard line. Mahomes took a deep sack, nearly ending the Chiefs season with a fumble that was recovered by Joe Thuney — allowing for a game-tying field goal. Harrison Butker was good on the 44-yard try as time expired, forcing overtime for the second consecutive week.
The Chiefs went 2/2 on postseason overtime coin tosses, beginning their drive from the 25-yard line after a touchback. The Chiefs were unable to gain a first down, and Mahomes threw a deep interception — giving the Bengals the ball at their own 45-yard line, needing only a field goal to win.
Higgins and Mixon quickly took the ball to the Chiefs 42-yard line. After another pass to Higgins took the ball to the 32-yard line, the Bengals started running the ball exclusively, taking the ball to the Chiefs 12-yard line. Burrow took a knee at the 13-yard line to line up the kick for McPherson. He was true on an 31-yard try, sending the Bengals to Super Bowl LVI and the Chiefs into the offseason.
Tight end Noah Gray left the game and was announced as questionable to return with an ankle injury.
|Yards per play||5.4||5.6|
|Yards per rush||4.30||5.80|
|Passing Gross Yards||250||275|
|Passing Net Yards||243||236|
|Yards per pass||6.20||5.50|
|Rushing first downs||8||6|
|Passing first downs||12||17|
|Penalty first downs||1||1|
|Third down (Made/Att/Pct)||8/14/57%||6/12/50%|
|Fourth down (Made/Att/Pct)||0/0/0%||0/0/0%|
|Goal to go (Made/Att/Pct)||1/2/50%||2/4/50%|
|Red Zone (Made/Att/Pct)||1/4/25%||3/5/60%|
|Extra Points (Made/Att)||2/2||3/3|
|Field Goals (Made/Att)||4/4||1/1|
|Two-Point Conv (Made/Att)||1/1||0/0|
|Gross Punting Avg Yds||40.3||52.3|
|Net Punting Avg Yds||40.3||41.8|
|Total Rtn Yds (No KOs)||30||0|
|Punt Returns (Num/Yds)||2/22||0/0|
|Kickoff Returns (Num/Yds)||1/26||2/38|
|Int Returns (Num/Yds)||2/8||1/0|
|Time of Possession||35:56||29:42|
|CHIEFS FUMBLES||FUM||LOST||FF||REC |
|BENGALS FUMBLES||FUM||LOST||FF||REC |
|Melvin Ingram III||1||1||0||1.0||7.0||0||1||1||2||0||0||0|
|Jessie Bates III||4||2||2||0.0||0.0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0|
|CHIEFS KICK RET||NO||YDS||AVG||LG||TD|
|BENGALS KICK RET||NO||YDS||AVG||LG||TD|
|CHIEFS PUNT RET||NO||YDS||AVG||LG||TD|
|BENGALS PUNT RET||NO||YDS||AVG||LG||TD|