The Chiefs pulled off a magical comeback in just 13 seconds to tie the game against the Bills and wrap up their 42-36 victory over Buffalo in overtime. A day earlier, Cincinnati intercepted the ball with 20 seconds left and Evan McPherson scored a field goal with no time on the clock to shock the Titans on the road.
At the limit, the Chiefs and Bengals showed that they are irreducible. A road that has one more stop before reaching the promised land.
If Sunday’s game at Arrowhead Stadium comes even remotely close to the Chiefs-Bengals matchup from Week 17, then the only certainty is that nothing is certain. Except the drama, of course.
That Jan. 2, Joe Burrow and the Bengals masterfully handled an offense in the final six minutes for a 34-31 win, yes, with a McPherson field goal with no time on the clock. It was the first loss for Mahomes in December or January in his last 18 starts.
Now the bet is higher.
Patrick Mahomes will appear in his fourth AFC Finals in four years as a starter, all at home, and became the first quarterback in history to reach Super Bowl third four times before his 27th birthday.
- Cincinnati at Kansas City, Sunday, January 30 at 2 pm CT/ TV-CBS
Cincinnati, which has not lost in two trips to the conference finals in its history, is seeking to become the third team since 2003 to move from the bottom of its division the season before the Super Bowl, joining the 2017 Eagles and the Saints. 2009, two teams that ended with Lombardi in their showcases.
“I know we haven’t been here before, but it definitely feels like we have been,” said Zac Taylor, head coach of a Bengals who haven’t been here since 1988. “You see the attitude of the team and the confidence they have. where you will find a way to win. And you just can’t replace the confidence that the guys have earned and hopefully it will hold for a couple more games.”
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To do this, they must find a way to contain a Chiefs that finished the regular season as the fourth most productive team and a Mahomes that averages 33.2 points in 10 playoff starts. It’s a complicated task for anyone and even more so for a defense like Cincinnati’s that shines for its inconsistency.
The Bengals have allowed 26 points or fewer in six of their last seven games. The exception?: The 31 points the Chiefs allowed in Week 17.
But given the inconsistency of a defense that is ranked 26th in the NFL, Cincinnati has an answer: Score more points than the rival.
The duo of LSU alumni, quarterback Burrow and rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase, was one of the most explosive combinations in the NFL as the Chiefs can attest, who gave up 266 yards and three touchdowns to Chase on 11 receptions.
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Associated Press writer Mitch Stacy in Cincinnati contributed to this report.