Eagles and Chiefs emerge from conference championships for Super Bowl LVII


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The Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles are set to face off against each other in the 2023 Super Bowl taking place on Feb. 12.

Ishan Kulkarni, Staff Writer

Last weekend during the conference championship games, fans turned their eyes to the final four teams that were vying for a spot in the 2023 Super Bowl, which will take place on Sunday Feb. 12 in Arizona. 

The Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers, the top two teams in the NFC, looked to secure the championship title and one of the two spots for the Super Bowl. The matchup was highly anticipated as the 49ers were coming into the game with a 12-game winning streak. At the same time, the Eagles had a strong 14-3 record in the regular season, along with a dominant win against the New York Giants in the divisional round. 

Both teams had unexpected performances this season, but nothing has been more surprising than 49ers’ quarterback Brock Purdy. The last pick in the 2022 NFL draft and the third-string quarterback, Purdy was thrown into the starting position following the second-string quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s foot injury in Week 13. Since then, Purdy has surpassed the expectations of many by leading the 49ers through the end of the regular season, a blowout against the Seattle Seahawks and a close win against the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs. 

The game started out with the Eagles receiving the kickoff and driving down the field. On a crucial fourth-and-three attempt, quarterback Jalen Hurts completed a 29-yard pass to DeVonta Smith to keep the drive alive. They ended their drive with a touchdown by Miles Sanders to give them a 7-0 lead. 

The 49ers tried to respond but were challenged by the Eagles’ strong pass rush and defense. Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick in particular gave the 49ers offensive line issues all night as he came off the edge and pressured the quarterback. The 49ers’ first drive ended on a second-and-six attempt when Reddick forced a fumble. During the play Purdy sustained an injury to his throwing arm and was subsequently forced out of the game.

The next several drives were unsuccessful for the Eagles as the 49ers defense forced them to punt. On the other side of the field, the 49ers were trying to adjust with backup quarterback Josh Johnson. In the second quarter, the 49ers successfully drove down the field with running back Christian McCaffrey catching two passes and rushing the ball in for a 23-yard touchdown. Unfortunately, that would be the only time San Francisco would score in the game.

Things got worse for the 49ers as the Eagles’ strong pass rush got to Johnson and forced a fumble right before the half, leaving enough time for the Eagles to score and take a 21-7 lead. 

The second half essentially ended for the 49ers when Johnson was ruled out of the game with a concussion after hitting his head on the turf following a tackle. Purdy was put back into the game but only made short passes, allowing the Eagles to stack the box and shut down the 49ers’ running game. The Eagles finished the game with a dominant 31-7 win with two rushing touchdowns from Sanders and one each from Hurts and Boston Scott. 

In the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals met in a rematch of last year’s championship game. This game was nothing short of a thriller as it all came down to the last possession. 

The Bengals went 12-4 during the regular season, won the AFC North division and were coming off a surprisingly strong win against the Buffalo Bills the week before. The Chiefs, who won the AFC West this season with a 14-3 record are no strangers to the AFC Championship, having played in it the last four years in a row.

The Chiefs were coming off a close win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the focus was on the health of their star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes suffered a serious ankle injury, which ruled him out of part of the game against the Jaguars. Coming into the game, all eyes were on his mobility as this would play a major part in his ability to extend plays and create magical moments that we’re used to. 

The game began with the Bengals receiving the kickoff, but they were unable to advance the ball far, resulting in a punt. On the Chiefs’ first drive of the game, Mahomes elected to throw short passes from the pocket in shotgun formation and was able to drive his team down into field goal range for the 3-0 lead. 

The Bengals then got the ball and were forced to punt again. When Kansas City got the ball they turned it around to give them a 6-0 lead. Being backed into a corner, Cincinnati strung together a solid drive to make it a 6-3 game. 

The Chiefs responded quickly with Mahomes throwing two consecutive passes to wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling for 40 yards total. On fourth-and-one, Mahomes threw a short pass to Travis Kelce who ran it in for a 14-yard touchdown. 

With 2:30 left in the first half, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow threw an interception to Chiefs’ Jaylen Watson, but the Chiefs were unable to capitalize on the turnover and punted the ball away. Burrow then led his team down the field where kicker Evan McPherson made a 23-yard field goal to make the score 13-6 in favor of the Chiefs going into halftime. 

The Bengals came out hot on both sides of the ball to start the second half, forcing the Chiefs to punt and then scoring a touchdown to tie it 13-13. The Chiefs responded with a touchdown when Mahomes completed a pass to Valdes-Scantling for a 19-yard touchdown to take the 20-13 lead. In the Chiefs’ next drive, Bengals’ Sam Hubbard forced a fumble. Taking advantage of this possession, the Bengals scored a touchdown in a drive that was highlighted by a 35-yard pass from Burrow to receiver Ja’Marr Chase.   

Both defenses then played very well, as the Bengals’ defense forced the Chiefs to punt, and the Chiefs’ defense caught an interception. With 44 seconds left in the game and the score tied at 20-20, Chiefs’ defensive lineman Chris Jones came up with a key sack on third-and-eight, forcing the Bengals to punt the ball. With the Bengals possession over, Mahomes had the chance to drive down the field and send the Chiefs to the Super Bowl. 

In the penultimate play of the drive, Mahomes scrambled for five yards and when a 15-yard penalty was enforced on the Bengals, the Chiefs were within field goal range. Harrison Butcker made the 45-yard field goal to put the Chiefs up 23-20. This win is sending the Chiefs to their third Super Bowl in the last four years. 

The exciting matchup in Super Bowl LVII between the Chiefs and the Eagles will take place at the State Farm Stadium in Arizona on Feb. 12 at 6:30 pm EST.