Tom Brady remained on track for his seventh Super Bowl victory. His Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees 30-20 in a tight playoff game.
In a duel between the two best quarterbacks in the NFL, Brady threw for two touchdowns and scored one himself, while Brees scored a touchdown as the hosts switched sides.
Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette scored two touchdowns for Brady, while Trequan Smith scored two touchdowns for the Saints, one on a pass from Brees and another for 56 yards from former Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.
The decisive moment came in the fourth quarter when Brady scored from close range to end the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers on the 24th. January initiated.
The AFC championship game pits defending Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs against Buffalo Bills after the Chiefs defeated Cleveland Browns 22-17.
However, the Chiefs had to endure a lot of angst – and a concussion to quarterback Patrick Mahomes – to beat the Browns.
Bree’s Career Farewell?
Drew Brees played for the San Diego Chargers from 2001 to 2005 and has been with the New Orleans Saints since 2006.
Brady, 43, won a record six Super Bowls in 19 years with the New England Patriots before being traded to the Buccaneers at the end of last season.
He then led his new team to the playoffs for the first time since 2007, and they are still on track for this year’s Super Bowl, which will be played at home in February at Raymond James Stadium.
Defense was the key to the game, Brady said. We got the turnovers we needed and in the end it was a great win for us.
We worked hard to get here, and we have to beat a great team [the Packers], and we have to do well to beat them.
As Brady prepares for his 14th start of the season… Conference play is a joyous, perhaps the final career appearance for Brees, 42, who holds the record for the most career passing yards in NFL history, as well as the most career passes made.
Brees was the most valuable player in the 2009 Super Bowl – the only triumph in Saints history – but he will be disappointed after losing to the Buccaneers after leading 6-0, 13-10 and 20-13 as his four turnarounds proved costly.
As the teams left the field, Brees was seen waving to the fans, fueling speculation that this could be the end of an incredible career that would surely land him in the Hall of Fame.
Chiefs hold firm after Mahomes’ concussion
Patrick Mahomes scored a touchdown and threw for another, but had to leave the field in the third quarter due to a concussion.
In Sunday’s final game, the Chiefs had to play most of the second half with 35-year-old backup quarterback Chad Henne making his fourth appearance of the season and only his 11th in seven years.
Last season, the champions led 19-3 at halftime after Mahomes ran for a one-yard touchdown and then found Travis Kelce, who added 20 yards for the home team’s score.
But Jarvis Landry and Kareem Hunt’s touchdowns resulted in a thrilling finish, and Henne led the Chiefs to the championship game against the Buffalo Bills on the 24th. January.
Mahomes was in good shape at the start, but was clearly dealing with a toe injury in the second quarter. He was tackled by the Browns’ Mack Wilson in the third quarter when Mahomes’ helmet hit the ground.
When he tried to get up, his legs were unstable and he had to be helped by his teammates before being sent off for the rest of the game due to a concussion.
The Chiefs are now hoping he’s strong enough to play in the AFC Championship Game as they hold a 17-3 home advantage over the Baltimore Ravens.
Mahomes was injured in the third quarter in an altercation with Mack Wilson Brown.
From 0 to 16, a big scare for the defending champions
The Browns have made a remarkable turnaround in recent years. They won just once this season in 2016 and are going into 2017 with a record of 0-16 in an even more difficult situation.
Their 48-37 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers last week was their first postseason win since week one. January 1995, and they were one point away from giving the leaders a jolt.
Arrowhead Stadium’s capacity is limited to 17,000 people and local fans watched the Chiefs parade across the field in their first outing, with Mahomes just yards away.
The home team didn’t have to wait long for their second touchdown when Mahomes found Kelce and he did the rest, leaping over a Browns defender for a 20-yard touchdown.
The Browns, whose team included Scotland’s Jamie Gillan, had a great chance to score late in the first half, but Rashard Higgins, diving over the line, was tackled by Chiefs player Daniel Sorensen and lost control of the ball, losing possession.
Jarvis Landry scored one of the touchdowns for the Browns, who won 12 games in the 2020 season, compared to a total of 14 wins in the previous four campaigns.
But Landry’s four-yard run for the touchdown gave the visitors hope, and Mahomes’ forced awkwardness provided a potential surprise.
Hunt worked his way through the middle of the Chiefs’ defense to make it a five-point game.
In an exciting final, Henne, who threw an interception but completed six of eight passes, made two key plays in the final two minutes. First down at third and 14 and without a pass, he ran and dove to finish at fourth and a half and then pulled a short pass to Tyreek Hill to make the first run that sealed the victory.
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