Chiefs (AFC) & 49ers (NFC) Win Conference Titles — in Very Different Ways — to Meet in Super Bowl LVIII
It’s all red for Super Bowl LVIII! The NFL’s conference championships were both decided by one score on Sunday in a thrilling penultimate round of football, although how both games played out was quite different. The Chiefs held off the Ravens (17-10) thanks to a pair of red zone turnovers by Baltimore down the stretch, and the 49ers rallied from a 17-point halftime deficit to put a stop to the Lions’ storybook run (34-31). Only two teams remain. It’s a rematch of Super Bowl LIV in 2020. We’ll have plenty of time in the next two weeks to preview the big game, but let’s start with recaps from yesterday’s exciting conference battles.
AFC Championship: Chiefs def. Ravens (17-10)
Were we foolish to forget about the Chiefs when the playoffs began? Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid have proven once again to be the league’s modern-day dynasty. But this time, the defense (and Travis Kelce) were the reason. The Chiefs took an early 17-7 lead against the Ravens in yesterday’s AFC title game, and then put the clamps on. Kelce had a historic day (11 catches, 116 yards, 1 TD) en route to breaking Jerry Rice’s record for the most playoff receptions in NFL history (151). The Ravens actually dominated the second half on offense, but they couldn’t come away with points. A fumble by WR Zay Flowers at the goal line and another interception by Lamar Jackson in the end zone left Baltimore with just 3 points down the stretch. The Ravens also had some costly late penalties. Kansas City didn’t score at all in the second half, but the defense earned the win. And for the fourth time in five seasons, the Chiefs will represent the AFC in the big game.
NFC Championship: 49ers def. Lions (34-31)
The NFC title game boasted significantly more offense than its AFC counterpart, but it was a tale of two halves. Dan Campbell had the Lions ready, and Detroit went up 14-0 in a blink with some explosive plays in the first quarter. Even though San Francisco answered, it was 24-7 at halftime. All signs pointed to a Lions-Chiefs Super Bowl and a rematch of this year’s season-opener back in September. The 24-7 scoreline marked the largest halftime deficit by a home team in a conference championship over the last 15 years. But as SportsCenter’s Scott Van Pelt likes to say, San Francisco “signed up for 60.” The 49ers rung up 17 points in the 3rd quarter to notch an almost-instant comeback. Brandon Aiyuk’s miracle catch off a defender’s helmet ignited the momentum shift. Running back Christian McCaffrey (24 touches, 132 yards, 2 TDs) was the 49ers’ engine once again. The Niners tacked on 10 more in the 4th for 27 unanswered points in just under 20 minutes. Detroit scored a desperation touchdown with a minute to go, but they failed to recover an onside-kick attempt. It’s the 49ers’ second trip to the Super Bowl in the last five years.
The All-Red Super Bowl Rematch
In case you forgot, the 49ers and Chiefs met in Super Bowl LIV (2020) just one month before COVID-19 stopped the sports world. Kansas City won that battle (31-20) with Mahomes and the Chiefs scoring 21 unanswered in the 4th quarter to surmount a 10-point deficit against Jimmy Garoppolo. The rosters look different this time around, but it’s another chapter in the all-red rivalry.
Super Bowl LVIII
Chiefs vs. 49ers (Feb. 11, 6:00 pm ET)
Yahoo! Sports: 49ers Pull Off Epic 17-Point Comeback to Beat Lions
Photo: Patrick Smith / Getty Images
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