LOS ANGELES — It's not the Super Bowl matchup anybody expected.
The No. 4 seeds from the NFC and AFC will meet in Super Bowl 56 after the Cincinnati Bengals pulled off an incredible come-from-behind upset win over the Chiefs in Kansas City and the Rams pulled off a comeback win of their own in L.A. against the 49ers.
Just two weeks ago, the Bengals won their first playoff game since 1991 when they defeated the Raiders in the Wild Card Round. Cincinnati then went on to defeat the No. 1 seed Titans and then No. 2 seed Chiefs in back-to-back weeks to get to their first Super Bowl since 1989.
The Rams defeated the Arizona Cardinals on Wild Card Weekend before going on the road to defeat Tom Brady and the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Divisional Round. Then, defeated another division rival, the 49ers, at home to advance to their first Super Bowl since 2019, when they lost to the Patriots.
For a second-straight year, after the Bucs did it last year, a team will play in the Super Bowl at their home stadium. Super Bowl LVI (56) takes place Sunday, Feb. 13 with a 6:30 p.m. E.T. kickoff at the Rams/Chargers' SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
Let's take a closer look at the AFC and NFC Championship games to see how we got here.
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Bengals shock Chiefs in overtime
It looked like the Chiefs were going to run away with this one for another blowout win in the AFC Championship Game. Kansas City got up to a quick 21-3 lead in the first half, dominating the Bengals on both sides of the ball.
The Bengals got their first touchdown with just over a minute left in the half to make it 21-10, but there was still plenty of time for Kansas City to score.
The Chiefs, who would get the ball after halftime, decided to go for a touchdown from the 1-yard-line with five seconds left in the half rather than take a field goal to go up 14. The Bengals got the stop and apparently some serious momentum.
In almost identical fashion to their Week 17 matchup, the Chiefs led by 11 at half, and then couldn't do anything on offense in the second half. The Bengals limited the Chiefs, again, to just three second half points.
The Chiefs were driving down three at the end of the game with a chance to win with a touchdown. The Bengals came up with another huge stop, forcing a field goal and overtime.
Kansas City won the toss, but it didn't matter. The Bengals intercepted Patrick Mahomes on third down and easily got into field goal range to win the game.
"I'd say nobody blinked an eye," rookie Bengals kicker Evan McPherson said of the Bengals falling behind big early. "I think we all thought we were going to come back and win the game."
The 18-point comeback by Cincinnati tied Indianapolis (vs. New England in 2006) for the largest in AFC championship history.
"When you're up 21-3 at any point in the game, you can't lose it," Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. "I put that on myself."
Second-year quarterback Joe Burrow finished 23 of 38 for 250 yards with two TDs and an interception. Bengals running back Joe Mixon rushed for 88 yards on 21 carries, including 28 yards on the final 42-yard drive.
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Rams pull off comeback vs. 49ers
The Los Angeles Rams came into Sunday's game 0-2 against their divisional rival, the San Francisco 49ers on the season and 0-6 in their last six matchups.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford was looking to get to his first Super Bowl ever, just two weeks after winning his first career playoff game with his new team in L.A.
The 49ers had been on an upset streak dating back to Week 18 when they defeated the Rams in L.A. to make the playoffs. They went on to defeat the No. 3 seed Cowboys and No. 1 seed Packers both on the road to get to the NFC Championship Game.
The Rams got on the board first with a Stafford to Cooper Kupp touchdown. But the 49ers would go on to score 17 unanswered points to take a 17-7 lead.
The Rams wouldn't score again until early in the fourth quarter when Stafford found Kupp again to make it 17-14.
After a questionable decision from the 49ers to punt from the Rams' 45-yard line on 4th and 2 with 10 minutes to go, the Rams got the ball back and marched down the field into field goal range to tie the game at 17 with just under seven minutes to go.
The Rams forced a three-and-out before marching back into field goal range and making a go-ahead 30-yard field goal with 1:49 on the clock.
A Jimmy Garoppolo interception on the other side of things ended the game as the Rams took the 20-17 win.
“You can’t write the story any better,” Stafford said after the game. “I’m at a loss for words. I’m just having a blast playing ball with these guys and, shoot, we’ve got one more at the home stadium. Let’s get it done.”
The Rams have only won twice when trailing by double digits in the second half during McVay’s half-decade in charge — and both victories were in conference championship games.
Stafford finished with 337 yards and two touchdowns. Kupp finished with 11 catches for 142 yards and both touchdowns, while Odell Beckham Jr. had nine catches for 113 yards.
“The story could not be written any better for us to play them in the NFC championship and then shut the door,” Beckham said of the 49ers.
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