Championship weekend in the NFL gives way to one of the wildest Super Bowl matchups ever


What a weekend it was in the NFL.

So far throughout the 2022 playoffs, every single game has been a great one. All games in the divisional round last weekend were one-score games and came down to the wire, but this weekend was by far the best. We saw miracles happen when the Bengals went to Kansas City and upset the Chiefs, and a possible dynasty being born with the Rams making the Super Bowl for the second time in the past four years. Let’s break it down and look at one of the weirdest Super Bowl matchups of all time. 

Let’s first look at the AFC Championship game: a clash between familiar opponents in the Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs. In week 17, we saw a clash of titans when the Chiefs came to Cincy, but the Bengals came out on top 34-31 in the end on a game-winning field goal.

With the Bengals clinching the AFC North with a win over the Chiefs, NFL fans almost knew immediately that if these teams met up in the playoffs, it would be a great game. When the two teams now met in the AFC Championship, the Chiefs were given the edge based on the fact that the game was being played in Kansas City. Arrowhead Stadium, which is considered to be one of the loudest stadiums on earth, was enough to make the Bengals shiver in their boots. But, when you have a quarterback like Joe Burrow, anything is possible.

On championship Sunday, NFL fans were finally excited to see what the Bengals could prove going into Arrowhead to face the Chiefs. As usual, the Bengals showed up in style but did not get going on the field right away. After quick three-and-outs by both teams on their first drives, the Chiefs got the game going with a Patrick Mahomes touchdown to Tyreek Hill in the back of the endzone. The Bengals came back with an Evan McPherson field goal to end the first quarter at 7-3.

In the second, the Chiefs got into a groove, scoring on two straight offensive possessions. A Travis Kelce touchdown from Mahomes and a Mecole Hardman rushing touchdown gave the Chiefs a huge 21-3 advantage right before the first half ended. However, Cincy would not go down without a fight to end the half. Burrow led a great drive down the field, ending with a Samaje Perine screen-play that ended up going 41 yards to the house. It seemed at this point that with only a 21-10 deficit to overcome, the Bengals could be back in business. 

The second half was a whole different story from the first. The Chiefs started with the ball and looked like they were going to score. On a series of three downs in Bengals territory, Cincy was able to get pressure on Mahomes and play great coverage in the secondary to force a punt.

There wasn’t much scoring from either side until McPherson drained another field goal with just under 3 minutes left in the third. Mahomes looked ready to lead Kansas City on another touchdown drive after the score, but on second down, an interception on a screen pass shocked Chiefs fans. The Bengals were back in business deep in Kansas City territory.

Just before the third quarter ended, Burrow hit his talented rookie wideout in Ja’Marr Chase for a touchdown and two-point conversion to knot up the game at 21 apiece.

After more back-and-forth play for most of the fourth, the Bengals orchestrated a perfect field-goal drive with just over four minutes left in regulation to take a 24-21 lead. After this, though, most NFL fans knew what could happen.

They had seen it happen just the week prior, when the Chiefs had 13 seconds to drive down the field around 50 yards and tie up the game with a field goal. They wound up winning that game, and at this point, Cincy knew it had to play great defense.

A great drive led Kansas City all the way to the 5-yard line of the Bengals. It seemed like it was a matter of time before the Chiefs would score and crush all hopes and dreams of seeing the Bengals make the Super Bowl for the first time in over 30 years.

Through a sense of motivation, the Bengals dropped into a standard 8-man coverage and only rushed 3, but got to Mahomes anyways. They made it tough on him to get his throws off and forced a crucial fourth down from the Bengals’ 15.  The Chiefs settled for a field goal to end regulation, bringing on a flood of emotions from the dreaded overtime period.

It’s been a front-running headliner all week in the NFL world.

“Should the overtime rules change?” Well, the backstory behind this was when the Bills and Chiefs went to overtime the week prior; both offenses could not be stopped, scoring on every possession they had the ball in the fourth quarter. It all came down to a simple coin toss to see who would win the game.

Last week, the Chiefs won the toss and won the game on their first drive. Now, flash forward to a week later, the same scenario was in everyone’s head.

“Whoever wins the toss, wins the game.” The Chiefs won and everyone just tilted their heads. The Chiefs, however, did not look as strong on offense that day. Mahomes was not making the right throws, and just three downs in, he heaved a ball into double coverage that was intercepted by Vonn Bell. Bell brought it back to the 50-yard line and the Bengals looked like they could win this game.

The Bengals drove down the field to the 15-yard line of Kansas City, led by the power running of Joe Mixon and a great catch by Tee Higgins. Then, the man of the hour came on to kick the game-winner.

McPherson, a perfect 23/23 on field goals on the road and 11/11 on field goals in the postseason, just had to drain a 31-yard field goal to win. The ball sailed right through the uprights, sending the Bengals to Los Angeles and solidifying a great comeback.

The NFC Championship was just after the thrilling AFC title game between a couple of divisional rivals. The Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers had gone at it all season, but the 49ers were victorious in both games. It was about time for the Rams to get revenge being at home and potentially hosting the Super Bowl in LA.

The first quarter, with no scoring and interceptions thrown by both Jimmy Garoppolo and Matthew Stafford, just made this game feel like a stalemate. The Rams scored a touchdown halfway through the second quarter from Stafford to reliable wideout Cooper Kupp for the 16-yard score. A 49ers comeback with a Garoppolo pass to Deebo Samuel for a 44-yard touchdown and a Robbie Gould field goal to end the half gave San Francisco a 10-7 lead at the break. 

The second half was a slow start for both teams. In yet another close, low-scoring game for the second weekend in a row, the 49ers knew they needed a big play. With two minutes left in the third, Garoppolo threw a strike to his always-reliable tight end George Kittle, who fought his way into the endzone for a touchdown.

The Niner faithful thought it had the game in the bag, considering the previous history in the matchup. Let’s just say that Stafford and the Rams had some different plans.

Stafford threw another touchdown to Kupp at the beginning of the fourth, and after two Matt Gay field goals, the Rams were ahead 20-17 with just under two minutes left in the game. The inconsistent play of Garappolo made moving the ball on offense tough for San Francisco. On a third-down screen, the Rams got a tip-up interception to seal the game. With now their second Super Bowl appearance in the past four years, the Rams look to possibly start a dynasty with a lot of start-up talent and great veterans. 

After this weekend, the Super Bowl seems so far away but so close. With just under two weeks remaining until the big game, we can take a look back on this postseason and the season in general and see where these two teams have come from. The ups and downs all season have led to this point–the biggest game of the NFL season.