The Kansas City Chiefs are headed to the Super Bowl again.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce were at their magnificent best in the first half, and Kansas City’s defense delivered another masterpiece against Lamar Jackson and Baltimore, helping the Chiefs reach the Super Bowl for the fourth time in five years with a 17-10 victory in the AFC championship game Sunday.
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Kelce caught 11 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown, and now the big question at next month’s Super Bowl in Las Vegas is whether his girlfriend Taylor Swift will be able to make it there in the middle of her tour. The pop star was on hand again Sunday, and the 34-year-old Kelce was at his best.
Kansas City (14-6) will face the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 11. A Chiefs win would make it the first team to win it all in back-to-back seasons since the New England Patriots 19 years ago.
Swift’s presence has turned the Chiefs into even more of a glamour team than they already were, but it’s been more of a blue-collar performance on the field this season. Aside from Kelce, Mahomes hasn’t had the receiving playmakers he’s enjoyed in years past.
Instead, the defense has been a big part of why Kansas City won the AFC West and eventually prevailed in two straight road playoff games against Buffalo and Baltimore to win the conference.
The Chiefs led 17-7 at halftime, and Justin Tucker’s 43-yard field goal with 2:34 to play was the only scoring of the second half.
Meanwhile, the 49ers rallied from 17 points down at halftime to beat the Detroit Lions 34-31 in Sunday’s NFC Championship game and reach the Super Bowl.
The 49ers (14-5) scored 17 points in an eight-minute span of the third quarter to tie the game and then pulled away in the fourth quarter to earn a rematch against Kansas City after losing to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl four years ago.
San Francisco mounted the fourth comeback ever from 17 points down or more in a conference title game thanks to some big plays by quarterback Brock Purdy and bad mistakes from the Lions (14-6), including two failed fourth downs in field-goal range. Detroit fell short of reaching the first Super Bowl in franchise history.
After being questioned about whether he could lead a comeback, Purdy has now done it twice in as many weeks. He engineered a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter to beat Green Bay last week and then had an even bigger comeback against the Lions.
Christian McCaffrey had two TD runs and little-used backup Elijah Mitchell scored on a 3-yard run to make it 34-24 with 3:02 to play as the Niners got over the conference title game hump after losing the past two seasons.
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