The Kansas City Chiefs have held this position before. Walk through the frigid Arrowhead Stadium parking lot, get dressed in their refurbished changing room, walk through the narrow tunnel and spill onto the pitch AFC title game.
In fact, the Chiefs have been doing just that for the past three years.
However, it will be a whole new experience for the Cincinnati Bengals, as they follow the same path on Sunday with a trip to the Super Bowl on the ropes. Only a handful of special team players are still alive, and coach Zac Taylor was just getting started in elementary school, when they beat the Bills in January 1989 on their last trip to a championship game. conference enemy.
“I think it helps for this time of year to have a pretty good idea of what it’s all about,” admitted head coach Andy Reid, who could have beaten Tom Landy to second in NFL history. with his 20th playoff win. “They know how we do our business, the intensity, whether it’s practice or what we expect from the game.”
That experience came in handy last Sunday, when the Captain went 44 yards in 13 seconds to shoot on goal and force stoppage time against Buffalo. Patrick Mahomes and Co. won the coin toss, and ultimately the game, by marching right down the field to make a touchdown without giving the Bills another chance with the ball.
It’s the kind of unforgettable win that could give the NFL team plenty of momentum for the rest of the season — as long as they get through it fast enough to prepare for the next installment.
“It was a great game and victory that we will remember forever,” Mahomes said, “but we were not finished. We’re trying to get out there and win the AFC championship and try to get to the Super Bowl. “
The Bengals had a horrible game over the top rated Tennessee last weekend. They led 16-6 in the second half, then put rookie Evan McPherson in position to seal the victory 52 yards from the field when time ran out.
It was the first road playoff win in franchise history. Now, they are in Kansas City.
“We are very excited about the opportunity,” said Bengals full-back Joe Burrow. “If you want to do the things that we want to do, that’s the team you’re going to have to beat every year. AFC has surpassed them for four years in a row.
“So, you know, we’re excited about the opportunity. We’re going to have a great week of practice and are ready to go. “
The Bengal team beat the Chiefs on January 2 in Cincinnati in a back-and-forth horror game that ended when McPherson drilled a 20-yard goal when time expired. Burrow threw 446 yards and four touchdowns, most of which went to Ja’Marr Chase, while Mahomes threw 259 yards and two points ahead of the Cincinnati sub which was considered light.
“The Chiefs do a great job of using a variety of schemes to try to keep you off balance,” says Taylor. “I think Joe and Ja’Marr did a great job of being on the same page in that game.”
STAR OF POWER
The two teams combined to send nine players to the Pro Bowl this season, six from Kansas City and three from Cincinnati, and there are half a dozen other players from each team that probably have the right argument for achieving that. there.
As it stands, the captains have Mahomes joined with Tyreek Hill, tight terminating Travis Kelce, defensive save by Chris Jones and safe Tyrann Mathieu with new left-ball Orlando Brown Jr. Trey Hendrickson.
Of course, the players for Sunday’s winning team will go to the Super Bowl.
Burrow and Chase were 6-0 when playing together in post-season games, including all four of their games together at LSU, when the Chiefs re-run Clyde Edwards-Helaire as teammates. Burrow averaged 381.8 yards with 22 TD throws in those six games, while Chase averaged 106.8 yards and had four of those.
KEEP THE FUN
Figuring out how to better protect the Burrow has been a priority for the Bengals this week. They struggled all season, especially against faster passing teams, and Burrow was fired by Tennessee nine times.
“There was a lot going on in there, starting with me putting him in the best position, putting our boys in the best position to stop the other team and prepare for the pressure and all. all those things,” Taylor said. “We spend a lot of time and effort talking about that. Some games, it’s great. Some games we will need to improve. ”
TWO TEAMS, ONE SEASON
Missing in the midst of the playoff chaos last weekend was the fact that very few people outside of Kansas City thought the captains would even be in the position. They’ve lost three of their first seven games, including an embarrassing 27-3 loss in Tennessee, and a massively overhauled defense is allowing for a staggering number of yards and points.
However, the Chiefs turned the game around quickly and have only lost once since that October – to Cincinnati.
“I think I just see the tenacity and swagger championship, I guess you would say, of the team we have,” Mahomes said. They just want to be better. I think the process of getting better every day has brought us into the situation we are in, and we don’t want to fall short. We want to keep this process going, and get better, and try to get our best football out on the field. “
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