Eagles best 49ers, Chiefs squeak by Bengals to set up Super Bowl matchup

Jalen Hurts scored one of Philadelphia’s four rushing touchdowns and the Eagles soared to the Super Bowl, riding out both of San Francisco’s quarterbacks with injuries and beating the injured 49ers 31-7 in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game. Later on Sunday, the Chiefs clinched a three-point victory with a last-second field goal in the AFC Championship Game, ending the Cincinnati Bengals’ playoff run.

The Eagles, who won the Super Bowl five years ago with a different coach and quarterback, will try to do it again behind the formidable duo of Hurts and coach Nick Siriani. Last year, the Chiefs reached the Super Bowl, but lost to the Los Angeles Rams.

The city of Philadelphia was already celebrating Sunday nightthe police set up barricades around the city hall and grease light poles throughout the week in preparation.

“It’s been a high-energy season from the start, and we’re excited to see the Eagles reach the Super Bowl,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “As a lifelong Philadelphian and mayor of this great city, I am thrilled to see fans of all ages and from all walks of life celebrating together, full of pride and excitement. It’s a great night, and I ask Philadelphians to celebrate happily and safely. , and with respect. And remember: This is Philly’s business.”

Eagles coach Nick Siriani said after the game that “it’s obviously something you dream about when you’re a kid” and “all these guys on the team have been dreaming about it their whole lives, too.”

“Just to be able to do this with a bunch of men who love each other, who are connected to each other, who will do anything for each other, it’s really nice,” Siriani added.

At Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Patrick Mahomes kicked out on his badly sprained right ankle and was then pushed out of bounds by Joseph Osai, giving Harrison Butker a chance to kick a 45-yard field goal with 3 seconds left to give the Kansas City Chiefs 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC title game on Sunday night.

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks for a pass against the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quarter of the AFC Championship game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on January 29, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri.

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The Chiefs finally managed to beat the Bengals after three straight losses, including a three-point overtime loss in last year’s conference championship game. Kansas City played the Philadelphia Eagles in their third Super Bowl in four years.

Mahomes, who injured his ankle against Jacksonville in the divisional round, threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns even though he was without three of his wide receivers with injuries until the fourth quarter.

Marquez Valdez-Scantling led the way with 116 yards and a touchdown, while Travis Kelce — bad back and all — had seven for 78 yards and a score.

Joe Burrow passed for 270 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for Cincinnati. He was fired five times.

In Philadelphia, Miles Sanders threw for two touchdowns and quarterback Hassan Reddick had a fumble that forced 49ers rookie quarterback Brock Purdy out of the game with an elbow injury. Redick also recovered a fumble by Purdy’s replacement, Josh Johnson, who later suffered a concussion.

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Jalen Hurts #1 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the third quarter of the NFC Championship game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 29, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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That forced Purdy back into the game, but his injury was clearly a factor as the 49ers all but gave up throwing the ball even when trailing by a few points.

San Francisco’s bad luck at quarterback finally proved too much to overcome as their 12-game winning streak came to an end. The Niners lost Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo to season-ending injuries, and Purdy — the last pick in April’s draft — lost for the first time as a starter.

Philadelphia police covered traffic poles and light poles in what often proved a futile attempt to slow down the revelry ahead. But the city that missed a championship now has its beloved birds in the Super Bowl just three months after the Philadelphia Phillies advanced to the World Series.

“You see this town and the passion they have for this team. We appreciate these fans so much,” Siriani said. “Look at this place. There’s no place like it in the NFL. It’s a hard-working town, it’s a blue-collar town. We think we have that kind of team.”

The game broke down in the final minutes, with Philadelphia’s K’Vaughn Wallace and San Francisco’s Trent Williams ejected for their roles in the fight. Williams pulled Wallace from behind and knocked him to the ground.

At that point, who cared? Eagles fans waved green towels and went wild as confetti flew around them. They sang a battle song – another resolute “EAGLES Eagles!” — in honor of the franchise that reached its fourth Super Bowl.

The Eagles broke the game open in the final two minutes of the first half, rallying from a crowd that had been quiet with nervous energy from the moment they touched down on the kickoff.

Sanders scampered 13 yards for a 14-7 lead, capping a 14-play, 75-yard drive that was punctuated by three 49ers penalties.

Johnson had a shotgun snap and fumble on the next drive, and Reddick — a free agent out of Carolina who had one of the great defensive seasons in franchise history — recovered at the San Francisco 30. Boston Scott scampered 10 yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead.

Although Hurts was barely a factor — he had 97 yards passing in the first half — the Eagles were firmly in control. Hurts finished 15 of 25 for 121 yards. His 1-yard touchdown run in Philadelphia’s signature QB rugby made it 28-7.

“It was a lot. I’m not going to make it about me,” Hurts said. “This city is special. They deserve everything, this is a special city. We have another one.’

Purdy left the game with an elbow injury after Redick drilled his arm on San Francisco’s first drive, leading to a fumble. The 23-year-old Purdy’s incredible rise from Mr. Ridiculous to playoff starter ended with a whimper as he failed to become the first rookie QB to lead a team to the Super Bowl.

He was unlikely to be needed again in the third quarter after Johnson, the backup backup signed in December, was also hurt.

The Eagles were quick to think, scoring on their first play of their second straight playoff game. DeVonta Smith made a sensational one-handed 29-yard catch, but replays showed he lost control of the ball as it hit the ground. Smith popped up and wildly waved the Eagles to the line. Niners coach Kyle Shanahan did not dispute the call, and the Eagles punted on the ensuing play. Sanders scored on a 6-yard run.

With little hope that they could do something behind Johnson, the 49ers turned to Christian McCaffrey to get on the board. He had three tackles during a 23-yard touchdown that tied the game at 7-7 in the second quarter.

With no quarterbacks to throw to, it was the end for Shanahan’s Niners, who managed 164 yards of offense and 11 first downs.

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