In Sunday’s NFL Conference Championship game, the four playoff teams were forced to interrogate and counter their opponents’ well-documented strengths and weaknesses. Those games ended with the Philadelphia Eagles defeating his 49ers. After San Francisco’s towering defense couldn’t keep up, Kansas City’s Chiefs finally hit back the Bengals, giving Cincinnati his first win of four tries.
The Eagles’ balance can frustrate defenses.
The entire Philadelphia Eagles offensive campaign in 2022 was a showcase for winning games in many ways. With explosive receivers Devonta Smith and his A.J. Brown, and heavyweight quarterback Jaylen Hartz, they often teamed up on the field, like against the Detroit Lions in Week 1 and against the Tennessee Titans in Week 13. burned down. Cardinals perimeter in Week 5.
The Eagles, like they did against the Green Bay Packers in Week 12, will have Pro Bowler Miles Saunders running back and hit the ball at Hearts.
At the NFC Championship on Sunday, the Eagles won 31-7 in a game of a different kind against the 49ers’ top-ranked defense: slow, efficient and error-free.
Philadelphia’s only passing play of 20+ yards was Smith’s 4-and-3 conversion on the first drive. The Hearts struggled to connect with receivers down the field as San Francisco’s tough secondary obscured his targets and linebackers refused to turn underthrows into big plays.
After punting on their next three drives, the Eagles recorded nine rushes on a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. It was a display of not only their physical prowess, but the unique kind of runs they were able to perform.
Myles Sanders’ touchdown run with 1:35 remaining left the Eagles pulling center Jason Kelce on a zone adjustment. Rather than traditionally having all players step in the same way for the zone to run, the Eagles turned back to left guard Landon Dickerson to attack the nose tackle, allowing Kelce to pull in front of him. I requested.
Philadelphia’s suffocating run game was only made more valuable by winning the discipline battle of penalties and turnovers. The Eagles scored his seven first downs from penalties, including his one on Rough the Punter call, to the 49ers’ zero. San Francisco led the NFL in turnover percentage all season long, but it forced a turnover on Sunday, while Philadelphia recovered three fumbles. , set the Eagles at the 49ers’ 30-yard line and delivered a drive that ended in a touchdown three plays later.
Of course, with the caveat that the Eagles needed to score better than a broken Brock Purdy, who injured his hand on the 49ers’ first drive, and backup Josh Johnson. But the 49ers’ defense was the star of the team all season, and Philadelphia felt frustrated and wore it down with his first-run approach. His smart physical performance won the toughest matchups in a season when the Eagles offense countered every opponent.
Patrick Mahomes’ ankle injury forced him to show patience.
Always Patrick Mahomes. At the end of his tortuous journey in the AFC for the past five seasons, Mahomes awaited his opponents in the conference his championship game at his stadium.
But this season, Mahomes and Kansas City have hosted rivals who pushed them out of the playoffs last year and dominated in the past three conferences. , which lacked the usual mobility, picked the spot to help Kansas City secure a hard-fought victory over Cincinnati, 23–20.
Kansas City’s first two drives ended in field goals, with the team’s receivers hampered by injuries and covered in creative coverage. Mahomes began testing what the defense had to offer on his third drive for Kansas City. He rolled out to the right, pumped to a receiver on a short route, and after replanting, tight found his end Travis Kels in the end his zone for a 14-yard score.
Kelce (7 catches for 78 yards) wasn’t limited in his ability to neutralize tackles as usual due to the back pain that cramped him in Friday’s practice. Another reliable veteran, receiver Mekor Hardman, was restricted after battling a groin injury for a week.
So Mahomes turned to receiver Marquez Valdes Scantling and rookie running back Isaiah Pacheco. Mahomes was the first to discover Valdes Scantling. Chunk play on corner routes That set up Kelse’s touchdown.
Coaches Andy Reed and Mahomes also put Valdez Scantling in the end zone on a seam route in the third quarter. Valdes-Scantling performed Switch her release alongside Skyy Moore. Valdez Scantling got his 116 yards on his six catches, a new all-time season record.
However, Mahomes was willing to accept what the Bengals presented him and never forced the play that had beaten Kansas City in their previous matchup against Cincinnati. 13 times (never more than three in any game), Pacheco had five receptions for 59 yards on Sunday.
With the score tied at 20, Kansas City began their final drive near midfield with 30 seconds remaining. After a 6-yard Pachecolan and an incomplete pass, Mahomes left third and fourth at the Bengals’ 47-yard line. Internal pressure forced Mahomes right out of the pocket. Rather than relying on his arm, Mahomes gritted out a 5-yard run to the sideline, the longest rush of the day, to sustain his drive.
Bengals defensive end Joseph Osai issued an unnecessary roughness penalty for over-chasing Mahomes. Flag added another 15 yards to the run, putting Kansas City in range for a game-winning 45-yard kick by Harrison Butker.
Sunday’s championship game was a reminder of Mahomes’ playmaking, if it had to be. He and Kansas City are heading to his third Super Bowl in five years. The quarterback showed a renewed stance to finally beat Cincinnati.