The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, in an absolute thriller at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday night to secure the AFC title.
Here are some quick notes and facts about the game.
1. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes put together a legendary performance.
Mahomes, who suffered an ankle injury only eight days prior, was simply spectacular on Sunday night. He completed 29-of-43 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns in the contest, and despite some relative limitations in terms of his mobility, Mahomes was exceptional.
Those efforts culminated with a 5-yard scramble on the Chiefs' penultimate offensive play that set up kicker Harrison Butker's game-winning, 45-yard field goal.
Mahomes now has 32 career touchdown passes in the playoffs, matching Dan Marino for the eighth-most in NFL history. Additionally, Mahomes is now the youngest quarterback in league history to win double-digit playoff games.
2. Tight end Travis Kelce made some more history.
Kelce, who battled through a back injury to be active for Sunday's game, went on to catch seven passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. Kelce now has the second-most receiving yards (1,467) in NFL postseason history, trailing only Jerry Rice (2,245).
His 17 consecutive playoff games with three or more receptions marks the longest streak in league history.
The duo of Mahomes and Kelce also made some history on Sunday. They've now connected for 13 career touchdowns in the postseason, making them the second-most productive duo in NFL playoff history. Only the New England Patriots' Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski (15 touchdowns) teamed up for more scores in the playoffs.
3. Wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling stepped up in a major way.
The Chiefs lost wide receivers Kadarius Toney, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman to injuries on Sunday, leaving Kansas City with only three active wide receivers for much of the second half. That meant that somebody had to step up in a big way, and Valdes-Scantling answered the call.
The veteran receiver caught six passes for 116 yards and a touchdown in the game, moving the chains on third down with three of those receptions.
4. Defensive lineman Chris Jones had a monster game.
Jones compiled the best postseason performance of his career on Sunday, racking up two sacks, five quarterback hits and 10 total pressures. Both of his sacks took place on third down, and his second sack forced Cincinnati to punt with 44 seconds remaining in regulation.
5. Jones led a pass-rush that got after Bengals' quarterback Joe Burrow all night long.
The Chiefs pressured Burrow on 21 of his dropbacks on Sunday, forcing Burrow to complete just 5-of-13 passes for 81 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions with five sacks on those snaps.
Jones led the way with 10 of those pressures, but defensive end Carlos Dunlap (7), defensive end Frank Clark (5) and defensive end Mike Danna (3) also each tallied multiple pressures on Burrow.
6. Rookie cornerbacks Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams each recorded an interception.
Watson picked off Burrow late in the second quarter before Williams hauled in a deflected pass for another pick midway through the fourth quarter. The Chiefs are the first team to feature multiple rookies with interceptions in a postseason game since 1995, and the first ever in the Super Bowl Era to do so in a conference championship game.
7. The Chiefs' rookie class as a whole was tremendous.
Watson and Williams were just two of several rookies to make a significant impact on Sunday. In fact, the following players all made major contributions: tailback Isiah Pacheco (85 yards from scrimmage), cornerback Trent McDuffie (6 tackles, 1 tackle-for-loss and 2 pass breakups), defensive end George Karlaftis (a sack), safety Bryan Cook (4 tackles, 1 pass breakup) and wide receiver Skyy Moore (a 29-yard punt return that set up the game-winning drive).
The Chiefs put considerable faith in their rookie class in the biggest game of the season on Sunday night, and the guys collectively came through.
8. Kicker Harrison Butker was nails when it mattered most.
Butker was perfect on Sunday, connecting on all five of his kicks (three field goals and two extra points). He successfully converted kicks from 43 yards and 24 yards during the first half before knocking a 45-yard attempt through the uprights to win the game.
The veteran kicker is now just the 15th player in NFL history to score 100+ points in the postseason, and his 109 total points rank seventh among all kickers in league postseason history.
9. Coach Reid is now the second-winningest head coach in NFL postseason history.
Reid secured his 21st playoff victory as a head coach on Sunday, breaking a tie with Tom Landry for the second-most ever in NFL history. Only Bill Belichick (31) owns more postseason victories.
Reid has won 11 of those playoff games in Kansas City, making him the winningest head coach in the postseason in franchise history by a wide margin. Additionally, Reid is the only head coach in NFL history to own 10 or more playoff wins with multiple franchises. Ironically enough, Reid will face his former team – the Philadelphia Eagles – in Super Bowl LII.
10. The Chiefs have now won three Lamar Hunt Trophies in the last four years.
Kansas City is now headed back to the Super Bowl for the third time in the last four seasons, continuing a remarkable run of success that is unprecedented in franchise history.
For context, the Chiefs reached the AFC Championship Game just once (in 1993) between 1970 and 2017. They've now hosted the event in five straight seasons since 2018, winning three of them.
This is quite simply the golden age of Chiefs' football, and Kansas City will have an opportunity to hoist a third Lombardi Trophy as they clash with the Eagles on Feb. 12 in Super Bowl LVII.