KANSAS CITY, Mo. — How is he doing this? High-ankle sprains are six-week injuries, or something like that. And Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes looked fairly fine through 36 minutes Sunday in the AFC Championship Game—not running with abandon, but when he had to, Mahomes could get out of harm’s way and do Mahomes things.
Nine minutes left, third quarter, 13-13. Why can’t these teams ever play a rout? Three times in 13 months they’d played, and the Bengals won by 3, 3 and 3. Now, with the wind chill around 4 and the Arrowhead crowd in a nervous tizzy, Cincinnati linebacker Germaine Pratt got a free run at Mahomes, who tried to sprint left and just couldn’t with the bum wheel. Pratt gained on him. Mahomes knew he had a couple of milliseconds to do something on this play, third-and-four, to extend this drive. So Mahomes turned his body and took the ball and somehow fired a pinpoint throw into the gut of Mecole Hardman … just as Pratt lunged and caused Mahomes to pull up.Historic game: It’s the first of the 57 Super Bowls with two starting Black quarterbacks facing off. Mahomes plays in his third for Kansas City, Jalen Hurts in his first for Philadelphia … Each QB enters the game with an injury—Mahomes with the lingering right ankle issue, Hurts with a sprained right shoulder suffered Dec. 18 at Chicago. Neither is likely to be adversely affected by it … Andy Reid coached the Eagles from 1999-2012, getting fired after a 4-12 season. Five years later, the Eagles won their first Super Bowl. Five years later, the Eagles will play Reid in a weirdly sentimental Super Bowl … To get to this game, Philadelphia beat the Giants and Niners by a combined 69-14; Kansas City beat Jacksonville and Cincinnati, 50-40 … The matchup could come down to whether Kansas City defensive linemen Frank Clark and Chris Jones—who pulverized the Bengals front Sunday—can make a dent in the best offensive line in football. Joe Burrow said of Jones, a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year: “He’s so good. He makes it so hard on you.”
The NFL’s conference championship Sunday offered two games that could not have been more different, but massive viewership numbers show that both kept audiences’ attention.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ 23-20 AFC championship win over the Cincinnati Bengals went down to the wire and enticed 53.1 million people to watch. According to CBS, It was the most-watched television program on any network since last year’s Super Bowl and the NFL’s most-watched conference championship in four years. The game peaked with 59.374 million viewers.
Meanwhile, the 31-7 NFC championship was dominated by the Philadelphia Eagles in a tough series of unfortunate events for the San Francisco 49ers. It was also just a generally weird game — which may have included an Eagles punt hitting a camera wire.
Mishaps aside, the matchup was a success for Fox. According to the network, the conference title game drew 47.5 million viewers — becoming its most-watched telecast of any kind since last year’s NFC championship. The broadcast peaked at 52.3 million viewers and was the second most-streamed NFL game in Fox Sports’ history.
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