Mahomes dominates, Chiefs advance to Super Bowl



Mahomes faced Tampa Bay in a Super Bowl LV matchup on Sunday night.

SETH STERN, Evergreen reporter/Copy Editor

The Chiefs, who had home-field advantage, defeated the Bengals 23-20. Even though the game was close, a great deal of controversy caused fans and players of the NFL to question if the outcome was just.

Heading into the game, the Bengals won three consecutive games against the Chiefs and were looking to continue their remarkable streak. The two teams last played Dec. 4, 2022, in Cincinnati, where the Bengals won 27-24.

This game was also a rematch of the 2022 AFC Championship as the Chiefs were defeated by the Bengals in an overtime thriller.

The 2023 AFC Championship started off pretty regularly, with each team exhibiting good defense while the offenses were trying to find themselves.

The Chiefs scored first when kicker Harrison Butker successfully made a 43-yard field goal, capping off a seven-play, 39-yard drive halfway through the first quarter. No other points were scored this quarter.

The second quarter began with another Butker field goal from 24 yards out, giving the Chiefs a 6-0 lead.

The Bengals’ offense began to come to life after they did not gain a single yard in the first quarter. With 8:40 left in the second quarter, Bengals kicker Evan McPherson connected on a 30-yard field goal cutting the Chiefs lead in half.

The Chiefs responded rather quickly as their very next possession ended with a 14-yard TD pass from quarterback Patrick Mahomes caught by tight end Travis Kelce. After the extra point was made by Butker, the Chiefs’ lead was up to 13-3.

Both Mahomes and Kelce were questionable with injuries heading into this game. Mahomes was dealing with a high-ankle sprain he suffered last week in the Divisional Round against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kelce, on the other hand, was dealing with a back injury he sustained during Friday’s team practice. Both played the full game against the Bengals.

The Bengals ended the second quarter with a 23-yard McPherson field goal as time expired. The Chiefs led at halftime 13-6.

The third quarter of the game was very exciting for fans to watch as there were two TDs scored — one by each team.

Bengals QB Joe Burrow connected with wide receiver Tee Higgins on a 27-yard passing TD. Higgins made a great catch on third-and-six with two nearing defenders. This score tied the game up 13-13 giving the Bengals confidence.

The Chiefs responded to this with a go-ahead TD of their own. Mahomes threw a 19-yard TD pass to WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling giving them a 20-13 lead.

The Bengals tied the game up again in the beginning of the fourth quarter when running back Samaje Perine scored on a two-yard rushing TD. The score was 20-20 with 13:30 left in the game.

The controversy began on the Chiefs’ next drive. On a third-and-nine, the Chiefs could not convert a first down, sending their punting unit onto the field. Before punting the ball, the refs huddled up and determined that the game clock was not running. The officials allowed the Chiefs to replay their third down. This series of events is known as the “do-over” play.

With that, the Bengals accumulated nine penalties worth 71 yards with many of them being questionable. When NFL analysts reviewed the game, they found multiple penalties against the Chiefs that were not called, sparking fans to wonder if some were intentionally not called.

The game concluded with another penalty against the Bengals when defensive end Joseph Ossai hit Mahomes while he was running out of bounds. Along with Mahomes’ run, the penalty tacked on another 15 yards putting them in field-goal range. Butker made his 45-yard kick, giving the Chiefs a 23-20 lead and ending the game.

Mahomes completed 29 of his 43 passing attempts for 326 yards and two TDs. Burrow completed 26 of his 41 passes for 270 yards and one TD. He also threw two interceptions in their disappointing loss at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs will face the Eagles in Super Bowl LVII Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona. The game will be broadcast on FOX.