Two years ago, the Cincinnati Bengals were the NFL’s worst team. Now they’re headed to the Super Bowl to play the Los Angeles Rams — in the Rams’ home stadium.
They made an impressive comeback from an 18 point deficit to defeat Kansas City 27-24 in overtime to make it to the AFC Championship game for the first time since 1988. The Chiefs were dominated by the team that won only two games in 2019, earning them top overall draft pick quarterback Joe Burrow.
The Rams then overcame a 10-point deficit at the end of the second quarter and took the NFC crown. Matt Gay scored a 30-yard field goal against San Francisco with 1:46 to spare. Los Angeles (15-5) had lost six consecutive times to the 49ers (12-8), but the visitors couldn’t slow All-Pro receiver Cooper Kupp. LA tied the game with a fourth quarter interception by Safety Jaquiski Tartt.
Kupp had 11 catches for 142 yards, and two touchdowns.
Matthew Stafford was 31 for 45 and 337 yards passed in a physically demanding game that featured some great plays by Kupp and Deebo Samuel, both All-Pro receivers for the 49ers. This led to him reaching his first Super Bowl. New England defeated the Rams in the Super Bowl 2018.
“We got one more at the home stadium, let’s get it done,”Stafford said.
Samuel had four receptions totalling 72 yards and one 44-yard touchdown. He also ran 26 yards.
The Rams have been to four Super Bowls before, going 1-3. Their only win came in 1999 while they were still based in St. Louis.
According to, Los Angeles is a 3 1/2-point early favorite. FanDuel Sportsbook
“I’m blessed to be part of this team, with this group of guys, this coaching staff,”Stafford, who was born in Detroit and spent his first 12 NFL seasons there, also added. “You can’t write the story any better. I’m at a loss for words. I’m just having a blast playing ball with these guys …”
The Bengals (13-7-1) reached their third Super Bowl. In 1982 and 1989, they were defeated by the 49ers. Kansas City hosted its fourth straight AFC championship match (14-6). It is currently 2-2 in those. Two years ago, the Chiefs won their second NFL title.
Cincinnati, winner of the AFC North, hadn’t won a postseason game since 1991 before beating Las Vegas, then earned a road victory in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history when it eliminated top-seeded Tennessee. The AFC West champion Chiefs beat Pittsburgh, then won an overtime victory against Buffalo to reach their fourth consecutive conference title match.
“We’ve been a second-half team all year,”Burrow missed six games his first season due to a knee injury. “You don’t really want to be that way, but that’s kind of how it’s worked out. Our defense really stepped up in the second half and on offense we made plays when we had to. … It was just a great overall team effort.”
Burrow led them all back Sunday, and McPherson made like a 10-year-old veteran by kicking four field goals. Vonn Bell’s interception of Patrick Mahomes on the opening series of overtime got Cincinnati the ball.
“We’re made for this moment. We never quit,”Bell stated. “Never quit fighting. We’re a resilient group.”
Another 18-point rally occurred in the AFC championship match in 2006 when Indianapolis beat New England 36-3. Burrow can note that Tom Brady was the quarterback in that match.
“We’ve overcome a lot of deficits this year,”Coach Zac Taylor stated. “We always believe in all three of our phases. Everyone stepped up. We’re not done yet.”