Patrick Mahomes on Sunday ended the Kansas City Chiefs’ 50-year wait for a return to the Super Bowl, while the San Francisco 49ers routed the Green Bay Packers to also advance to the NFL showpiece.
Mahomes helped the Chiefs overturn a 10-point deficit to complete a convincing 35-24 win over the Tennessee Titans to take the American Football Conference Championship at Arrowhead Stadium.
The reigning NFL Most Valuable Player threw for three touchdowns and danced into the end zone for a superb individual score as the Chiefs successfully neutralized the threat posed by Titans running back Derrick Henry.
It is the first time the Chiefs have advanced to the Super Bowl since their victory over the Minnesota Vikings in 1970.
“I’m lucky to be a part of this team with all these guys — it makes my job a lot easier,” said Mahomes, who finished with 294 yards passing and 23 completions.
The win came one year after the Chiefs suffered an agonizing home overtime loss to the New England Patriots at the same stage of the playoffs.
“It’s amazing, to be here to do it at Arrowhead, these people deserve it. We’re not done yet,” Mahomes said. “We’re going to get it.”
Mahomes said the Chiefs — who had fought back from 24-0 down to rout the Houston Texans the previous weekend — had to keep their cool after falling behind early on against the Titans.
“We just stayed with the process. It was like last week, we just stuck with the game plan and knew it was going to work out,” he said.
Henry had few complaints after being restricted to a relatively paltry 69 yards and one touchdown after 19 carries.
“They just had a great game plan, man,” Henry said. “They were coming off the ball, those guys were being physical. They played a great game today on defense and you know their offense, we know the type of offense that is: explosive, can score at any moment. We just came up short. All the credit to them and good luck to them.”
In Santa Clara, California, the 49ers clinched the National Football Conference Championship with a 37-20 rout of the Green Bay Packers that was more one-sided than the scoreline suggested.
Niners running back Raheem Mostert rushed for four touchdowns and 220 yards as the run-oriented San Francisco offense punched hole after hole through a porous Packers defense.
The game was effectively over by halftime after Mostert crossed for three of his four touchdowns in the opening two quarters as San Francisco opened up a 27-0 halftime lead.
“I just woke up like it was any other game,” Mostert said.
“It was just one of those games where once we all got in the groove we were like: ‘Hey, let’s keep it riding, keep it rolling,’ and that’s what we did,” he said.
It was another disappointing outing for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who once again fell short in his pursuit of a second career Super Bowl title.
Rodgers acknowledged that the defeat had stung as he faces up to the realization that at 36, he might have only a limited number of opportunities to reach the Super Bowl again.
“It’s a little raw right now for sure,” he said. “It definitely hurts [more] than earlier in your career, just because you realize how difficult it is to get to this spot.”
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