Patrick Mahomes passed for 404 yards and five touchdowns, Travis Kelce caught a touchdown pass and threw another, and the Kansas City Chiefs blew apart the Pittsburgh Steelers 42-21 in the wildcard round of the playoffs on Sunday night, sending Ben Roethlisberger into retirement.
Byron Pringle and Jerick McKinnon both snagged touchdown passes from Mahomes and Kelce, while Tyreek Hill and Jerick McKinnon also hauled in TD catches as the Chiefs kicked off their quest for a third consecutive AFC title in style. They scored on six consecutive possessions in the midst of the game, shut down Roethlisberger and the rest of the Pittsburgh offence, and transformed the divisional-round game against Buffalo the following Sunday night into must-see television.
With a 47-17 victory over the Patriots on Saturday, the Bills had an easy time. Last season, Buffalo and Kansas City faced off for the AFC title.
Roethlisberger, who confessed this week that the Steelers were "not a very good football team," wasn't very good himself. The 39-year-old quarterback completed 29 of 44 throws for 215 yards and two meaningless touchdown touchdowns late in the game, capping out a career that included six visits to the Pro Bowl and two Super Bowl victories.
On the other hand, Deebo Samuel, a dynamic receiver, rushed 26 yards for a touchdown after Dak Prescott's interception, and the San Francisco 49ers hung on for a 23-17 playoff victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
With 32 seconds left, the Cowboys had a final shot and were at the 49ers' 41 with 14 seconds to go when Prescott took off up the middle, attempting to slide and spike the ball for a final play. Dallas, on the other hand, didn't get the ball until the clock struck 0:00. Referee Alex Kemp declared the game over after a brief pause.
With a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter, the 49ers overcame an interception by Jimmy Garoppolo. Prescott ran for a touchdown to get Dallas within a touchdown, and he had a chance to put the Cowboys ahead. However, the 49ers were able to get a stop near midfield when Prescott's desperate fourth-down attempt was just out of reach of receiver Cedrick Wilson.
The 49ers (11-7) earned their first playoff victory over the Cowboys in a legendary postseason rivalry after a 14th penalty from the NFL's most-penalized team in the regular season helped San Francisco run out most of the clock and the frenzied final seconds as Dallas attempted for the win.
They now travel to Tampa Bay for a divisional game in the hopes of advancing to the NFC championship game once more. Earlier in the day, Tom Brady threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Buccaneers to a commanding 31-15 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, kicking off their attempt for a return to the Super Bowl.
The reigning champions set the tone right away, with Brady directing two long touchdown drives in the first quarter and a 17-0 advantage at halftime.
With touchdown passes to Rob Gronkowski and Mike Evans, the seven-time Super Bowl winner improved his brilliant playoff record to 35-11 in a record 46 postseason starts.
The Buccaneers' defence did its bit as well, intercepting Jalen Hurts twice in his postseason debut. Brady threw an interception-free 29 of 37 throws, extending his postseason record for touchdown touchdowns to 85.
Josh Sweat, the Eagles' defensive end, was inactive after being admitted to the hospital and undergoing an emergency treatment earlier in the week for what the organisation termed as a "life-threatening circumstance."
Sweat, who is tied for the team lead with seven sacks this season, was admitted to a hospital late Tuesday night, according to an Eagles statement made before the game.
“In the following days, Josh and our medical team did everything possible to help him return to play,” the statement said. “He improved every day, but it was determined by doctors today that he was not quite ready. The fact that Josh came so close to playing is a credit to his toughness and our medical staff.”