The stage is set: The Kansas City Chiefs will take on the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl after they dominated their conference championship games on Sunday.
The 49ers bulldozered the Green Bay Packers behind running back Raheem Mostert to claim the NFC championship, 37-20.
Mostert, who scored four touchdowns and rushed for 220 yards, was an explosive force for San Francisco as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw for just 77 yards. The Niners’ defense capitalized on the sluggish Packers offense, turning a second-quarter interception into Mostert’s third touchdown.
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The 49ers had a commanding 27-0 lead at the half. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers tried to jump-start his offense in the fourth quarter, but the Niners’ lead was insurmountable. After Sunday’s loss, Rodgers is 0-5 when trailing by 17 or more points in the playoffs.
Garoppolo and the 49ers will host quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 in Miami. Earlier Sunday, the Chiefs ended a 50-year Super Bowl drought when they took down the Tennessee Titans in the AFC championship game, 35-24.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes hypes up the crowd as he is introduced before the AFC championship game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday in Kansas City, Missouri.Jeff Roberson / AP
For the second week in a row, the Chiefs overcame an early double-digit deficit after the underdog Titans got out to an early start in the first quarter. Titans running back Derrick Henry rushed for a touchdown after the team had converted a gutsy fourth-and-2 play earlier in the drive.
But Mahomes put on a Super Bowl-worthy performance in front of a home crowd at Arrowhead Stadium, with two passing touchdowns and a 27-yard rushing touchdown, the longest of his career, in the first half. By halftime, the Chiefs were leading, 21-17.
And they didn’t look back.
Mahomes and the offense tacked on two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter after a scoreless third, solidifying their place in the Super Bowl and avoiding a second straight year of heartbreak in the conference title game. The game was a reality check for the sixth-seeded Titans, a team that had electric momentum after an unexpected playoff run in which it knocked out two heavy favorites, the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens.
Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans runs for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC championship game on Sunday in Kansas City, Missouri.Tom Pennington / Getty Images
Garoppolo will lead the 49ers to the franchise’s seventh Super Bowl appearance. In its most recent, the Niners lost to the Ravens in 2013. Hall of Fame quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young led San Francisco to its five Super Bowl titles, winning four and one, respectively. Garoppolo joins Montana and Young as the only 49ers quarterbacks to win at least 15 games in a season, including playoff games.
Mahomes will lead the Chiefs to the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance since 1970. Fifty years ago, the Chiefs of the old American Football League beat the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League on the cusp of the two organizations’ merger to form the current NFL.
Since then, Kansas City has made several playoff appearances, often petering out in the wild card and divisional rounds. Last year, the Chiefs lost in the AFC title game to Tom Brady and the Patriots, who went on to win the Super Bowl.