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Chiefs and Lions grab spots in NFL’s conference championships

todayJanuary 22, 2024 3

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The Kansas City Chiefs reached the AFC Championship game for the sixth straight year while the Detroit Lions will play their first NFC Championship game in 33 years after victories in the NFL playoffs on Sunday.

Patrick Mahomes’s Chiefs emerged with a 27-24 win from a gruelling battle at Buffalo while the Detroit Lions defeated the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-23.

The Chiefs will play at the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday for a chance to defend their Super Bowl title while the Lions will be looking to reach their first Super Bowl when they travel to the San Francisco 49ers.

The Buffalo Bills were looking to avenge their epic divisional-round defeat to the Chiefs in 2021 and with quarterback Josh Allen in inspired form, they gave themselves a real chance.

After the teams exchanged field goals in the first quarter, Allen put the Bills in front with a five-yard touchdown run.

The Chiefs responded with a field goal and grabbed the lead through a familiar combination — Mahomes finding Travis Kelce on a 22-yard touchdown pass.

Allen powered over from two yards just before halftime with the extra-point sending the Bills into the break ahead 17-13.

Mahomes again found Kelce, who squeezed into the corner of the end zone. The touchdown was their 16th post-season scoring connection — a record for any quarterback-tight end partnership.

But Allen zipped a pass into the corner of the end zone to Khalil Shakir, who pulled in a brilliant catch for a 13-yard touchdown as Buffalo took a 24-20 lead.

The Chiefs, playing their first road playoff game in the Mahomes-era, restored their advantage early in the fourth with Isiah Pacheco’s powerful four-yard rushing score, which proved decisive.

Buffalo got the ball with 8:23 left and Allen drove upfield on a 16-play, 54-yard drive over 6:40, but it ended in despair as Tyler Bass pulled the potentially game-tying 44-yard field goal wide right.

Pacheco ran for a first down and the Chiefs ran out the clock, moving one win from their fourth Super Bowl in five seasons.

Lions quarterback Jared Goff threw for two touchdowns and 287 yards as Detroit set up a showdown with the 49ers in California.

The victory extended Detroit’s emotion-fueled playoff run, which has seen the Lions win back-to-back playoff games for the first time since their 1957 championship season.

Tampa Bay kicker Chase McLaughlin’s 43-yard field goal cancelled out Michael Badgley’s early 23-yard three-pointer for Detroit.

Detroit’s offense made the breakthrough early in the second quarter when Goff fired a bullet nine-yard pass to the back of the end zone to Josh Reynolds for the touchdown.

Bucs quarterback Baker Mayfield popped a short pass to tight end Cade Otton to gather and cruise in for the touchdown. McLaughlin slotted the extra point to make it 10-10 at half-time.

The second half started in similar fashion with Tampa Bay punting twice either side of a Detroit punt.

But the game exploded into life with a flurry of touchdowns that began when Reynolds grabbed his second score of the game, barging over from close range on fourth down as Detroit took a 17-10 edge.

Tampa Bay’s response was immediate, with Mayfield leading a drive that ended with Rachaad White romping into the end zone from 12 yards out.

Detroit reclaimed the lead on the next possession with an electrifying 31-yard run from Jahmyr Gibbs, to make it 24-17 after the extra point conversion.

Goff stretched Detroit’s lead to 31-17, picking out Amon-Ra St. Brown for a nine-yard touchdown pass.

There was still time for Tampa Bay, with Mayfield throwing his third touchdown pass for Evans to score.

But the Bucs’ hopes of an improbable comeback ended when Mayfield was picked off in midfield with 95 seconds remaining.




Written by: Staff Writer

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