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Bengals storm back to beat Chiefs in AFC Championship, on to Super Bowl LVI

Bengals storm back to beat Chiefs in AFC Championship, on to Super Bowl LVI
Cincinnati Bengals kicker Evan McPherson (2) celebrates his overtime field goal to win the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Photo by Dave Kaup/EPA-EFE

Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals stormed back from an 18-point deficit and rallied for a 27-24 overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

With the comeback victory, the Bengals clinched their third Super Bowl berth in franchise history. Cincinnati last reached the NFL's championship game during the 1988-89 season, when the team lost 20-16 to Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIII.

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The Bengals will play either the Los Angeles Rams or 49ers in next month's Super Bowl. The Rams and Niners faced off Sunday night in the NFC title game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.

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"Usually when you lose the coin flip to those guys you're going home," Burrow said. "Our defense really stepped up and made plays in the second half. And on offense, we made plays when we had to.

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"I thought the offensive line played really well all day. We started running the ball there at the end and that's exciting. Big win for us."

The Chiefs raced out to a 21-3 lead with 5:04 left before halftime after three touchdown passes from Patrick Mahomes. From that point on, however, the Bengals' defense managed to stymie Mahomes and the Chiefs' high-powered offense.

The Bengals began their rally just before the end of the first half, when Burrow hit backup running back Samaje Perine for a 41-yard touchdown with 1:05 left before halftime.

Late in the third quarter, Bengals rookie kicker Evan McPherson drilled a 31-yard field goal to make it 21-13. A few minutes later, Burrow found Ja'Marr Chase for a 2-yard touchdown and Trent Taylor on the subsequent 2-point conversion to tie the game at 21-21.

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McPherson converted a 52-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter to give Cincinnati its first lead of the game at 24-21. But Harrison Butker's 44-yard kick as time expired in regulation sent the contest to overtime, a week after his 49-yarder on the last play of regulation did the same against the Buffalo Bills.

The Chiefs again won the overtime coin flip to receive the ball first in the extra quarter, but Bengals defensive back Vonn Bell intercepted Mahomes on the third play. Burrow and the Bengals took over and quickly worked their way down the field.

McPherson then booted a 31-yard field goal with 9:22 remaining in overtime to put Cincinnati in the Super Bowl for the first time in 33 years. The Bengals' successful rally from the 18-point deficit tied an AFC title game record.

"I was hoping we could get the ball in the end zone," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said. "I probably gave the wrong play, first of all. I could have given them something better than that. I'll take responsibility for that one."

Burrow completed 23 of his 38 pass attempts for 250 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Bengals running back Joe Mixon had 21 carries for 88 yards and three catches for 27 yards.

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Mahomes was 26 of 39 passing for 275 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Travis Kelce led the team with 10 receptions for 95 yards and a score.

Kansas City was attempting to reach its third consecutive Super Bowl. The Chiefs won the championship during the 2019-20 season before losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season.

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