The New England Patriots defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 37-31 in overtime to reach a third successive Super Bowl. Elsewhere the Los Angeles Rams won in overtime 26-23 against the New Orleans Saints to reach their fourth-ever Super Bowl.
This isn’t the first time that these two teams have met at the Super Bowl. Back in 2001, the two sides met at Super Bowl XXXVI, although the LA Rams were playing in St. Louis at the time. The game ended 20-17 to the Patriots, led by second-year quarterback Tom Brady who was named MVP, and was the first in the franchise’s history.
That game marked the start of the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady partnership that has since seen 8 more Super Bowl appearances and 4 more victories. Both Belichick and Brady are considered amongst the greatest coaches and quarterbacks in NFL history. Their Patriots have a winning or tied record against every team in the NFL.
Back in 2019, this was the first time in the Super Bowl era that both the AFC and NFC Championship games have gone to overtime. In the AFC Championship the Patriots, who were appearing in their eighth straight Championship game, were dominant in the first two quarters, going into half time 14-0 up.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw touchdown passes to Travis Kelce and Damien Williams to take the score to 17-14 Patriots going into the final quarter of the game. An incredible 38 points were scored in the fourth quarter with the lead moving to the Chiefs then back to the Patriots before Mahomes managed to get within field goal range with just 32 seconds left to send it to overtime.
Sadly it wasn’t to be for the Chiefs as the Patriots won with a touchdown from the only possession of overtime. After the game, Brady said: “We knew it was going to be tough. Kansas are explosive and they have been beating teams here all year. It was awesome, what a game.”
Elsewhere in the NFC Championship game, the Los Angeles Rams were behind for the entirety of the game, only pulling level with a field goal to force overtime. Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein kicked four field goals throughout the game with the last the game winner.
The game was not without its controversy though as the New Orleans Saints were denied an obvious pass interference penalty that would have presented a fantastic opportunity to score a game-winning touchdown. The Saints were well inside the Rams half late in the fourth quarter with the score tied.
The football was thrown to receiver TommyLee Lewis who was taken out by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman well before the ball arrived. The referees should have called for pass interference but no penalty was given.
The head coach of the Saints Sean Payton said: “It’s tough to get over it. It was as obvious a call (as could be) and how two guys can look at that and come up and arrive with their decision, I don’t know. It happened though, so we can’t dwell on it. We’ll probably never get over it.”
With the AFC and NFC Championships over, all eyes now turn to Super Bowl LIII. It will be hosted at the Mercedes-Benz stadium in Atlanta and will be the third Super Bowl hosted in the city, the two others being XXVIII in 1994 and XXXIV in 2000, the latter of which saw the Rams, then in St. Louis, win their first Super Bowl.
The Patriots will be playing in their third consecutive final, becoming only the third franchise to achieve the feat. The other teams were a Buffalo Bills side that played in four consecutive Super Bowls from XXV to XXVIII losing all four and the Miami Dolphins in three consecutive Super Bowls from VI to VIII, winning twice.
This game also sees record age differences between both the coaches and the quarterbacks. Patriots coach Bill Belichick is 33 years older than the Rams’ Sean McVay, and Brady is 17 years older than Jared Goff.
With Brady looking to win his sixth ring, Super Bowl LIII is set to be a thriller. The game will take place on Sunday, February 3rd with BBC coverage starting from 11:30pm.