Rams come back to beat 49ers 20-17 for Super Bowl berth

January 31, 2022 GMT
Los Angeles Rams' Aaron Donald celebrates after the NFC Championship NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. The Rams won 20-17 to advance to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Los Angeles Rams' Aaron Donald celebrates after the NFC Championship NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. The Rams won 20-17 to advance to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Los Angeles Rams' Aaron Donald celebrates after the NFC Championship NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. The Rams won 20-17 to advance to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
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Los Angeles Rams' Aaron Donald celebrates after the NFC Championship NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. The Rams won 20-17 to advance to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
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Los Angeles Rams' Aaron Donald celebrates after the NFC Championship NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. The Rams won 20-17 to advance to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Travin Howard made a game-sealing interception with 1:09 to play, and the Los Angeles Rams rallied from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to secure a spot in the Super Bowl at their home stadium next month with a thrilling 20-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game Sunday night.

Cooper Kupp caught two touchdown passes from Matthew Stafford for the star-studded Rams (15-5), who began the fourth quarter down 17-7 after wasting a multitude of scoring opportunities.

But after Kupp’s second TD catch and a tying field goal on a drive extended by Jaquiski Tartt’s brutal dropped interception, the Rams drove for Matt Gay’s go-ahead, 30-yard field goal with 1:46 to play.

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Los Angeles’ defense then won it when Aaron Donald got hold of Jimmy Garoppolo and forced him to fling a pass toward JaMycal Hasty. The ball caromed high in the air off Hasty’s hands and came straight down to Howard, who didn’t miss it.

Los Angeles will welcome the Cincinnati Bengals in two weeks for Super Bowl 56 in Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s multibillion-dollar SoFi Stadium.

After 54 consecutive Super Bowls without an NFL team playing in its home stadium, the Rams are the second team to do it in two seasons after Tampa Bay broke the streak last year.

The Rams won their second conference title in the past four years under coach Sean McVay and moved one step from the franchise’s second championship in the Super Bowl era. Perhaps even more impressively, Los Angeles finally snapped a six-game losing streak against its San Francisco (12-8) archrivals, who secured their playoff berth with an overtime comeback victory in Inglewood just three weeks ago.

BENGALS 27, CHIEFS 24, OT

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Evan McPherson kicked a 31-yard field goal with 9:22 left in overtime after Joe Burrow kept his cool while leading a furious second-half comeback to get the Bengals to the Super Bowl for the first time in 33 years.

The Bengals erased an 18-point deficit — tying an AFC title game record — to take a late 24-21 lead on McPherson’s 52-yarder. But Harrison Butker’s 44-yard kick as time expired in regulation sent it to overtime a week after his 49-yarder on the final play of regulation did the same against Buffalo.

One week after Buffalo’s Josh Allen called tails and it came up heads for the overtime coin toss — giving Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs the ball — Cincinnati backup quarterback Brandon Allen called heads and the coin came up tails. The Chiefs opened overtime again with the ball, but Vonn Bell intercepted Mahomes on the third play, and Burrow and the Bengals took over.

And now they’re heading to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1989 after winning their first playoff overtime game.

The Bengals (13-7) will play the Los Angeles Rams (15-5) in the Super Bowl in the Rams’ home stadium on Feb. 13. Cincinnati lost to the San Francisco 49ers in both of its previous trips to the Super Bowl.

Mahomes and the Chiefs (14-6) will be left to lament blowing a chance at a third straight Super Bowl appearance.

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