The Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes are returning to the Super Bowl.
Kansas City punched its ticket to a second straight Super Bowl and fourth over the last five years by upsetting the Baltimore Ravens 17-10 on the road in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.
The Chiefs will meet the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 11 in a rematch of Super Bowl LIV. The Niners advanced to Super Bowl LVIII after overcoming a 17-point deficit to beat the Detroit Lions in the NFC title game.
Mahomes carried the Chiefs to a 10-point halftime lead and then delivered the final dagger just before the two-minute warning with a 32-yard completion to Marquez Valdes-Scantling to convert a crucial third down.
Kansas City’s defense did its part by holding MVP front-runner Lamar Jackson and Co. to only 10 points and one touchdown as Baltimore tied its lowest offensive output this season.
After falling behind 17-7 to start the third quarter, Baltimore squandered multiple opportunities to shorten the deficit. The Chiefs forced three takeaways with two coming while the Ravens were scoring position.
The first of the two fourth-quarter turnovers came on the first play when cornerback L’Jarius Sneed punched the ball out from Zay Flowers at the 1-yard line before the wide receiver crossed into the end zone. The fumble was recovered by the Chiefs for a touchback.
Safety Deon Bush was Kansas City’s next defensive hero after intercepting Jackson on the Ravens’ next drive with them nearing the red zone. Baltimore kicked a field goal with 2:43 remaining to narrow the Chiefs’ lead to 17-10, but that was as close as the franchise came.
The Chiefs’ defense held Jackson to 272 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Jackson was sacked four times and finished with a 75.5 passer rating, his lowest since Week 10.
Sunday’s AFC title game initially looked like it would be a shootout between the two quarterbacks. Mahomes got to work first, engineering an 86-yard opening drive that culminated in a back-shoulder touchdown pass to Travis Kelce. Jackson quickly answered with a score of his own. Dodging the Chiefs’ pass rush, Jackson flipped a 30-yard touchdown pass to Flowers to knot the game at seven. The Chiefs scored again with an Isiah Pacheco short touchdown run on a drive that was extended by a diving catch by Kelce on third down.
Kelce not only played a huge factor in the victory with his team-leading 11 receptions for 116 yards, but he also made NFL history. The star tight end shattered Jerry Rice’s record of 151 postseason receptions and is now the league’s all-time leader with 156.
“I knew (Kelce) was going to show up,” Mahomes said postgame, according to NFL Network’s James Palmer. “He always does. When the lights get brighter, he plays better.”
Kelce was congratulated after the contest by his girlfriend, Taylor Swift, as the two embraced. Swift has been a frequent spectator this season and has attended all of the Chiefs’ playoff games thus far. It’s unknown whether she will be at Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, Mahomes completed 76.9% of his passes Sunday for one touchdown and no interceptions. He’ll be aiming to win his third Lombardi Trophy in four appearances. The Chiefs could become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champions since the New England Patriots in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.