NFL Conference Championship Weekend

Photo+via+David+Eulitt%2FGetty+Images

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Photo via David Eulitt/Getty Images

Andrew Tunley, Staff Writer

Leading up to this past weekend, the 2022 NFL Playoffs have certainly lived up to the hype, nearly every game being extremely exciting and ending in a nail-biting fashion. The Conference Championship round was no different, as one game came down to the final play and the other needing a double-digit fourth quarter comeback. The Bengals punched their ticket to their first Super Bowl since 1989 with a 27-24 overtime victory over the Chiefs after trailing by as much as 18 points. The Rams got revenge on the 49ers to send them to their fifth Super Bowl in franchise history.  Super Bowl 56, being on Sunday, February 13, will surely be a fitting end to an entertaining year of football.

The Bengals came into this season with +25000 odds to win the Super Bowl, meaning if one were to bet 100 dollars on them winning it all, they would win $25,000. Even after two strong wins in the playoffs, the Bengals still found themselves as seven point underdogs against the second-seeded Chiefs. A strong Chiefs offense, led by former NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes, scored touchdowns on their first three drives and were ahead 21-3 after less than 20 minutes of game time had elapsed. A touchdown with one minute left in the first half and a stop on their own one-yard-line to finish the half sent the Bengals into halftime trailing 21-10. 

Two punts by Kansas City and one by Cincinnati opened the third quarter before the Bengals kicked a field goal to trim the deficit to just one-possession. The Chiefs needed a response to re-establish their lead, but on their second play of the drive, Mahomes threw an interception to defensive tackle to BJ Hill. Just two minutes later, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow threw his second touchdown of the game to rookie Ja’marr Chase, and after a two-point conversion, the Bengals completed the comeback to knot the game at 21-21. The two teams traded field goals, sent the game to overtime, the winner going to the Super Bowl and the other heading to the off-season. 

Patrick Mahomes, who already had one interception, threw another one on the third play of overtime.  Burrow and the Bengals found themselves one drive away from clinching a spot in the Super Bowl. Burrow, decisive and precise on his throws, led the Bengals to the Chiefs’ redzone, and rookie kicker Evan McPherson hit the 31 yard field goal to win the game and send the Chiefs home. 

The second game of the evening was played between two division rivals, the Rams and the 49ers. The two teams played each other in their regular season finale, with the 49ers prevailing 27-24 in overtime. Both teams wanted to add another Super Bowl appearance to their historic franchises. 

The two quarterbacks, Matthew Stafford of the Rams and Jimmy Garoppolo of the 49ers, traded touchdown passes in the first half, and a 49ers field goal as time expired gave them a 10-7 lead at halftime. The 49ers added another Jimmy Garoppolo touchdown pass in the third quarter to extend their lead to double figures, as the Rams entered the fourth quarter trailing by 10 and needing one final push to extend their season.

A strong drive led by Stafford lowered the Niners’ lead to three early in the fourth quarter. The 49ers were forced to punt inside Rams territory. The Rams drove into 49ers territory threatening to take the lead, but a key stop on third down by the 49ers forced the Rams to kick a field goal and tie the game. After another disappointing end to a 49ers drive, the Rams got the ball back again, drove into the red zone with ease, and took a field goal with less than two minutes to take the lead 20-17. Jimmy Garoppolo, after exceeding expectations and throwing two touchdown passes, threw an interception on the third play of the drive to seal the Rams’ win. 

By no surprise, the two Conference Championship games were surely nail biters for viewers across the country. A historically successful Los Angeles Rams team will play the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl 56. Cincinnati, who earned their first playoff win in 31 years just two weeks ago, enters the game as a four point underdog. This game will no doubt serve as a fitting end to an exciting playoffs.