The Kansas City Chiefs are in the Super Bowl. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes leads his team into the NFL final against the Cincinnati Bengals in a real-life thriller. The frustration of the Bengals unloads on the referees. The Chiefs are now playing the Philadelphia Eagles in the finals.
While some are celebrating, the cameras quickly pan to the other side of the field. There, in Joseph Ossai, a dejected player sits on the bench and hides his tears, sadness and pain under the orange helmet. His mistake was crucial moments before the Kansas City Chiefs entered the Super Bowl by a narrow margin, 23-20, victorious over the Cincinnati Bengals.
The AFC Conference Championship Game was open to the last play and developed into a true crime thriller. Ultimately, it was Ossai, the Bengals defensive end, who late tackled opposing quarterback Patrick Mahomes on his run to the sideline, earning his team a penalty. The 15 yards put the Chiefs within field goal range. Kicker Harrison Butker blasted the ball through the bars with the clock (almost) running out and freaked Arrowhead Stadium.
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Cincinnati’s frustration was great and was mainly directed at the referees. Not because of Ossai’s penalty. Despite all the emotionality, it was crystal clear (even if the referees overlooked a holding of the offensive line in the same turn).
The team of referees around “White Head” Ron Torbert made an unlucky figure in many situations and often decided in favor of the home team. A curious scene left even the audience in the Chiefs Temple in disbelief.
It was in the fourth quarter with 10:29 still on the clock and the Bengals had just leveled the game. The Chiefs were still deep in their own half when Mahomes failed to get the ball to a teammate on a critical third down. Drive stopped!
The punt team was already on the field when things got confusing. After a short break, Mahomes was suddenly back between the lines with his offensive and was allowed to play the third attempt again.
The confusing reason: In the previous play, a referee ran from the side onto the field because the game clock was running – and she shouldn’t have done that in this situation. As soon as a referee “kills” the play, play must not continue. Players, coaches and directors hadn’t even noticed the intervention. Torbert’s communication on the field did little to clarify the matter.
Even if the scene was decided correctly, the Bengals’ frustration only mounted moments later. Because in the repeat play, Mahomes was brought to the ground and stopped again – until a yellow flag on the field indicated a holding penalty against cornerback Eli Apple. Whether the quarterback even had a chance to throw his receiver was secondary. The Chiefs had to give up the ball a little later, but the situation in the stadium had been heated up by then.
The mood did not change until the final whistle, the Chiefs celebrate entering the Super Bowl for the third time in four years.
Mahomes was also able to shine away from his decisive run. With two touchdown passes and throws for a total of 326 yards, Mahomes made an outstanding game despite a sprained ankle.
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“There are moments in a game when you just have to risk everything,” said the quarterback at the handover of the trophy for the AFC win on the scene before the field goal. On February 12, the Chiefs will meet the Eagles in Glendale, Arizona, after beating the San Francisco 49ers 31-7 in the NFC finals. “It’s going to be a great challenge, but first I’m going to celebrate this. I don’t think we have cigars, but we’ll be prepared for the Super Bowl,” Mahomes said.
The Chiefs won the Super Bowl for the second time in their history in February 2020, losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2021. Last season, the Chiefs lost to quarterback Joe Burrow’s Bengals in the AFC Finals.
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