The New England Patriots will play the Los Angeles Rams after winning the AFC Championship game over the Kansas City Chiefs, 37-31 at Arrowhead Stadium. It sets up a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI, 17 years later.
The Patriots started the game hot, scoring two touchdowns in the first half. However, things changed drastically in the second half when the Chiefs finally began heating up. The Chiefs, who finished the regular season 12-4, eventually took the lead in the fourth quarter after Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's second interception.
The Patriots later took the lead back, 24-21, but a series of penalties during the Chiefs' following drive ultimately led to the Chiefs scoring another touchdown before the two-minute warning. The Patriots took the lead again, but the Chiefs scored a field goal in a drive that took less than 40 seconds of playing time and tied the game.
In overtime, Brady marched the Patriots down the field quickly. The Patriots scored a touchdown, ending the game.
Heading into the game, the Chiefs and Patriots were top two seeds in the AFC. The Patriots were looking for their third consecutive Super Bowl appearance and fourth since 2015. Brady and head coach Bill Belichick would have added to their record five Super Bowl wins.
As for the Chiefs, Super Bowl LIII would have marked the franchise's first Super Bowl appearance since 1970. The team won its only appearance by beating the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV, following the 1969 season.
The Chiefs' season was highlighted by quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He sat on the bench for most of his first season, but took control of the team in 2018. He became only the third quarterback in NFL history to throw 50 touchdowns in a season, joining Brady and Peyton Manning. The 23-year-old passed for 5,047 yards and had just 12 interceptions. He even scored two rushing touchdowns and had 272 total yards rushing on 60 carries.
Before the game started, league sources told ESPN that the Chiefs are expected to renew his contract after the 2019 season, when he is eligible for an extension. He could become the first NFL player with a $200 million contract. However, he has two years left on his current contract, and the Chiefs could exercise the fifth-year option.
Earlier Sunday, the Rams reached Super Bowl LIII after a controversial no-call on a pass interference forced the New Orleans Saints to go for a field goal with too much time on the clock. The Rams had enough time to march down the field and tie it, then scored another field goal in overtime after Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw an interception.
Super Bowl LIII will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sunday, Feb. 3. The game will air live on CBS.
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