NFL Playoffs 2021-2022: Conference Championships

The 2021-2022 NFL postseason is officially half-way over and it has not disappointed. This past weekend featured the penultimate contests before the Super Bowl, with each being won by a razor-thin margin of three points. Emotion, resilience, passion, and strength were all on full display as four teams fought for the two spots to the big game.

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Championship Sunday began with the AFC Championship between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City jumped to an early 14-3 lead with touchdowns from Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. The Bengals responded with a touchdown of their own, but the Chiefs scored again and Kansas City led 21-10 at halftime. Kansas City did have an opportunity to jump to a 28-10 lead at the end of the first half, but a stout Bengals defense prevented this from happening. Inexplicably, this defensive stop ended up shifting the entire momentum of the game. The Bengals went on to score fourteen points en route to forcing overtime. Mahomes was intercepted in post-regulation as Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow led the team down to set up a game-winning field goal. From this win, Cincinnati advanced to its first Super Bowl in 33 years.

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The NFC Championship between the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams commenced soon after the conclusion of the AFC Championship. After a sluggish start, Los Angeles and San Francisco exchanged scores in the second quarter as the 49ers took a 10-7 lead at halftime. San Francisco then took a 17-7 lead before Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford hit star receiver Cooper Kupp for a huge touchdown, shifting the momentum of the game. Los Angeles then took the lead with two Matt Gay field goals before finally intercepting 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, icing the game and securing a Rams victory. Los Angeles makes its second Super Bowl appearance in four years. The Rams lost Super Bowl LIII to the New England Patriots 13-3 in 2019.

Thus, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams are the two teams that will play on February 13th to determine the 2021 NFL world champion. Super Bowl LVI is expected to be one of the most unique and thrilling Super Bowls in recent history. For the first time in nineteen years, neither Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ben Roesthlisberger, nor the 49ers will be playing in the big game. Two former #1 first-round picks will face each other in Matthew Stafford (2009) and Joe Burrow (2020). Two high-powered offenses will play against two stout defenses capable of huge plays. As the Super Bowl approaches rapidly, fans cannot wait to see which team will earn the 56th Lombardi trophy.