Championship Sunday was pure theater in the NFL. Andy Reid’s redemption? The Kelce Bowl? Two Black quarterbacks? Phew. Whatever storyline you want to follow, Super Bowl LVII has plenty. Buckle up, team. It’s a two-week media circus building up to the big game. Eagles. Chiefs. The stage is set…
SUPER BOWL LVII
The Stage is Set
Eagles & Chiefs to Meet in Super Bowl LVII After Epic Championship Sunday
The stage is set! The NFC and AFC title games produced very different scoreboards, but it was entertaining theater throughout Championship Sunday. The Eagles buried the 49ers thanks to turnovers, penalties, injuries, and an all-out bloodbath at the Linc. Then, the Chiefs edged the Bengals in a thriller at Arrowhead that came down to a game-winning field goal. Two weeks of prep will lead us through storylines aplenty in Super Bowl LVII, but let’s recap Sunday first.
The NFC title game pitted the No. 1 offense (Eagles) against the No. 1 defense (49ers) in an epic melee at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, but it was all Eagles after the first quarter. Philly capitalized on two first-half turnovers and an elbow injury to 49ers QB Brock Purdy to grab a 21-7 halftime lead. San Francisco turned to their fourth quarterback of the season in Josh Johnson before he left with a concussion. Purdy returned out of necessity, but the birds had their foot on the gas in the ground game. San Francisco committed 11 back-breaking penalties for 81 yards, and the Eagles won the turnover battle (3-0) while rushing for 148 yards and 4 TDs. By comparison, the Niners had just 164 yards of total offense. Fly, Eagles, Fly.
QB J. Hurts (PHI): 15/25, 160 total yards, 1 TD (rushing)
RB M. Sanders (PHI): 11 carries, 42 yards, 2 TDs
RB K. Gainwell (PHI): 16 touches, 74 yards
RB C. McCaffrey (SF): 19 touches, 106 yards, 1 TD
LB H. Reddick (PHI): 2 sacks, 1 FF, 1 fumble recovery
Go Deeper: Through two playoff games, the Eagles have outscored opponents 69-14. Philly is the first team in NFL postseason history to win back-to-back playoffs games while scoring 30-plus and holding their opponent under 10. They’re just the fifth team to win two playoff games by 21-plus points. Each of the previous four went on to win the Super Bowl. Additionally, the Eagles’ 39 rushing touchdowns are now the most by any team in NFL history.
AFC: Chiefs def. Bengals (23-20)
It was a different story in the nightcap at Arrowhead where the Chiefs and Bengals clashed for the second straight year in the AFC title game. Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City marched out to a 13-3 lead, but Joe Burrow and the Bengals made it 13-all in the third. Mahomes put another touchdown on the board (20-13) before an errand fumble that led to a short field and another game-tying score (20-20). It came down to the final minute before Cincinnati’s penalties forced a punt, and then the Mahomes magic began. Playing through a high-ankle sprain, Mahomes scrambled for a first-down at the Cincinnati 42, but a late push out of bounds by Bengals’ DE Joseph Ossai tacked on 15 yards to set up Harrison Butker from 45 yards — ball game. Kansas City is going back to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years.
QB P. Mahomes (KC): 29/43, 326 yards, 2 TDs
QB J. Burrow (CIN): 26/41, 270 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs
WR M. Valdes-Scantling (KC): 6 receptions, 116 yards, 1 TD
TE T. Kelce (KC): 7 receptions, 78 yards, 1 TD
WR T. Higgins (CIN): 6 receptions, 83 yards, 1 TD
DT C. Jones (KC): 4 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 QB hits
Go Deeper: The Bengals and Chiefs have now scored 47 points each in both of the last two AFC Championships against each other — both decided by a late field goal. Mahomes (27) is the youngest quarterback in NFL history to win 10 playoff games. Mahomes will attempt to become just the fourth quarterback since 2000 to win multiple Super Bowls, joining Peyton Manning (2), Eli Manning (2), Ben Roethlisberger (2), and Tom Brady (7).
Super Bowl LVII
Eagles vs. Chiefs (Sun. Feb 12, 6:30 pm ET, FOX)
Super Bowl LVII has myriad of storylines, from Andy Reid facing his former team to Jason Kelce (Eagles) and Travis Kelce (Chiefs) becoming the first head-to-head brothers in Super Bowl history, and the Mahomes-Hurts storyline as the first-ever Super Bowl to feature two Black quarterbacks. We’ll have it all in the next two weeks. It’s Eagles-Chiefs for the Lombardi Trophy.
Yahoo! Sports: Eagles Defense Knocks Out Both 49ers QBs En Route to NFC Title
B/R: Patrick Mahomes Delivers Season-Defining Performance in Defeat of Bengals
CBS Sports: Super Bowl LVII Lookahead: Chiefs vs. Eagles Odds, Matchups & Early Prediction
History Down Under
#4 Novak Djokovic Wins 10th Australian Open Title; #5 Aryna Sabalenka Captures 1st Major
Two weeks in Melbourne came to a close over the weekend with the finales of the Australian Open and two contrasting champions. Novak Djokovic secured his 10th title Sunday morning in Melbourne and his record-tying 22nd Grand Slam with a straight-set sweep of Stefanos Tsitsipas, including back-to-back tiebreaker wins. Djokovic was emotional after redeeming himself from being deported from Australia a year ago after refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccination. The victory came one day after Aryna Sabalenka won her first title by overcoming a first-set loss to Elena Rybakina.
Most Men’s Tennis Grand Slams
N. Djokovic (22)
R. Nadal (22)
R. Federer (20)
#4 N. Djokovic def. #3 S. Tsitsipas (6-3, 7-6, 7-6)
#5 A. Sabalenka def. #22 E. Rybakina (4-6, 6-3, 6-4)
ESPN: Advantage, Novak Djokovic in the Race to be Tennis’ GOAT
Yahoo! Sports: Aryna Sabalenka Powers Past Elena Rybakina to Win 1st Grand Slam
Lost Angeles: LeBron’s Meltdown
LeBron, Lakers Lose to Celtics (125-121, OT) After Missed Foul Goes Viral
If you saw this one, apologies from our team. We had to do it. The most viral moment in the NBA over the weekend was undoubtedly the no-call seen ‘round the world in the Lakers-Celtics showdown in Boston. It was LeBron James and another lost season for Los Angeles struggling to fight their way into the playoff picture on the road against the best team in the league. LeBron (41 points) drove to the rim in a tied game (105-105) in the final seconds when a missed foul call on Jayson Tatum sent him into a frenzy. Tatum clearly got James on the arm, but the game went to overtime as LeBron had a meltdown. The Celtics went on to win thanks to some big shots by Jaylen Brown (37 points). And after a decent win streak to open January, the Lakers (23-27) have now lost six of their last ten.
Watch: Celtics def. Lakers (125-121, OT)
Other NBA Highlights
Giannis Has Monster Weekend: Giannis Antetokounmpo had a 41-point game on Friday night in the Bucks’ win over the Pacers (141-131) before dropping a 50-piece on Sunday in a win over the Pelicans (135-110). He was a ridiculous 20-for-26 shooting (77%) from the floor.
Embiid Beats Jokic: A battle of MVP big men took place Saturday night in Philly when Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic squared off. Embiid (47-18-3) outdueled the Joker (24-9-8) and the 76ers got the dub (126-119). Philly has won seven straight.
NHL: Hurricanes Win 5th Straight
The Hurricanes (72 pts) and Bruins (81 pts) met on Sunday for a clash of the NHL’s top teams, but it was Carolina who won their fifth straight (4-1). The Bruins were dominating the league, and they still are, but a three-game skid is starting to level the standings.
PGA: Homa Wins Farmers Insurance Open
Max Homa (-13) was the low man at Torrey Pines over the weekend for the Farmers Insurance Open. His 6-under final-round scorecard helped him leap the leaderboard and beat out Keegan Bradley (-11) and Collin Morikawa (-10).
NCAA Basketball Scoreboard
M: #1 Purdue def. Michigan State (77-61)
M: Oklahoma def. #2 Alabama (93-69)
M: #4 Tennessee def. #10 Texas (82-71)
M: #9 Kansas def. Kentucky (77-68)
W: #1 South Carolina def. Alabama (65-52)
W: Purdue def. #2 Ohio State (73-65)
W: #5 UConn def. #21 Villanova (63-58)
W: #20 NC State def. #7 Notre Dame (69-65)
W: #9 Utah def. #8 UCLA (71-69)