Chiefs return to the Super Bowl

Penalty proves costly in the final seconds of the AFC Championship



Travis Kelce (87) and Patrick Mahomes (15) of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrate after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 in the AFC Championship game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Kansas City, Missouri. (David Eulitt/Getty Images/TNS)

Story by Kailyn Williams, Sports Editor

The Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs faced off in the AFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 29, 22023, ending in a nail biting, high tension way, after the Bengals defeated the Chiefs in their last meet up back in December 27-24.

The first quarter of the game went on quietly on the offensive side of things, with the Chiefs taking a 3-0 lead via a 43 yard field goal by Harrison Butker.

The Bengals played from behind for the majority of the game, with the Chiefs’ defense keeping Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow at bay, who was sacked three times in the first quarter alone. 

Butker managed a second field goal of 24 yards, putting the Chiefs up 6-0. The Bengals kicker, Evan McPherson, matched with a 30 yard field goal of his own, cutting the Chiefs’ lead in half. 

Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes, playing on a high ankle sprain, completed a short 14 yard pass to tight end Travis Kelce for a touchdown, the point after kick went up good, making the score 13-3. 

McPherson managed another field goal for the Bengals with four seconds remaining in the half.

Going into halftime, the Chiefs led 13-6. 

To begin the third quarter, Burrow came out and completed an early touchdown pass to Tee Higgins in the deep right corner of the field for 27 yards, tying the score at 13. 

Mahomes answered with a 19 yard completion to Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a touchdown, putting the Chiefs back on top 20-13 for the remainder of the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, tension began to rise after the Bengals tied the game at 20 with a two yard rushing touchdown by Samaje Perine with 13:35 remaining in the championship match.

The game would remain knotted at 20 until the final seconds. 

After escaping a collapsing pocket, Mahomes booked it up field trying to convert for a first down. As he made his way out of bounds, defensive end Joseph Ossai for the Begnals followed in pursuit, and pushed Mahomes.

The official standing by threw a flag, calling a penalty on Ossai for unnecessary roughness. This penalty would result in an automatic first down, with 15 yards added from the spot of the foul, putting the Chiefs in field goal range. 

Butker split the uprights down the middle with his 45 yard field goal, securing the AFC Championship for the Chiefs, and punching their ticket for the Super Bowl where they will face the Philadelphia Eagles. 

The question now is whether or not the costly penalty in the final seconds of the game was really a case of unnecessary roughness, or not. Some are arguing online under pictures and videos from the game that the Ossai was only making a play, and that there was no case of unnecessary roughness there.

“It sucks that the Bengals lost, I really wanted my LSU guys to get it done,” junior Bengals fan Timothy Austin said. “But yes, it was unnecessary roughness, it was a stupid play.”

Via the NFL Rulebook, Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8 of Unnecessary Roughness, “(f) If a player uses any part of his helmet or facemask to butt, spear, or ram an opponent violently or unnecessarily or… (1) Forcibly hitting the defenseless player’s head, neck, or face with the helmet or facemask, regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the defenseless player by encircling or grasping him.”

“I knew the Chiefs would pull it out, that was the right call,” senior Chiefs supporter CJ Brown said. “If [Ossai] wouldn’t have hit him, there would’ve been another down, [the Chiefs] would’ve had to fight, but he handed the game off with that play.”