Rams, Patriots win, advance to Super Bowl LIII

Controversy erupts after games are decided by debatable calls on the field

Photo courtesy of therams.com | Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff helped lead his team to Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta on Feb. 3, when they will face the Patriots.

There was no such thing as home field advantage last Sunday as the Los Angeles Rams won the NFC Championship in New Orleans against the Saints, while the experienced New England Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City to win the AFC Championship and clinch another Super Bowl berth.

In New Orleans, the Saints jumped out to a quick 13-0 lead. However, a fake punt by Rams punter Johnny Hekker and a touchdown from Rams running back Todd Gurley cut the Saints’ lead to 13-10 at the end of the first half.

In the second half, Saints quarterback Drew Brees led the longest drive of the game — a 12-play, 71-yard drive resulting in a touchdown pass to Taysom Hill.

The Rams responded with a drive that resulted in a touchdown pass to Tyler Higbee. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Saints led the Rams 20-17, and with about five minutes left in the game, Zuerlein hit another field goal to tie the game 20-20.

The Saints were looking to score a touchdown in the final minutes, but a blatantly missed pass interference call forced them to kick the field goal. After the game, Saints head coach Sean Payton claimed that the refs “blew that call.”

Wil Lutz nailed a 31-yard field goal to give the Saints a 23-20 lead with less than two minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Zuerlein answered with a 48-yard field goal to tie the game at 23 points apiece with 15 seconds remaining in regulation.

In overtime, Brees threw an uncharacteristic interception on the Saints’ first possession, and the Rams won 26-23 thanks to a 57-yard field goal from Zuerlein.

In the AFC Championship, the New England Patriots faced the Kansas City Chiefs. This was the 11th season since 2000 that the Patriots had made the AFC title game.

On the opening drive, Patriots running back Sony Michel scored, giving the Patriots a 7-0 lead. At the end of the first quarter, the Patriots led 7-0, with a total of 119 yards to the Chiefs’ -11 yards.

Tom Brady connected with Philip Dorsett for a 29-yard touchdown to cap off a 90-yard drive, giving the Patriots a 14-0 lead at the end of the first half.

In the second half, the Chiefs opened up with a touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes, cutting the Patriots’ lead in half before Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski gave the Patriots a 17-7 lead with a 47-yard field goal.

Mahomes responded by leading a drive that culminated in a touchdown to Damian Williams, cutting the score to 17-14 in favor of the Patriots.

Brady was intercepted by Chiefs’ Daniel Sorensen, which turned into a Mahomes touchdown and a 21-17 lead for the Chiefs.

The Patriots responded with a touchdown from Michel and took a 24-21 lead before Williams scored his third touchdown of the night, giving the Chiefs a 28-24 lead with two minutes remaining in regulation.

On the following drive, the Chiefs seemed to clinch a Super Bowl trip, but an interception was nullified by a penalty, and the Patriots scored, giving them a 31-28 lead. The Chiefs tied the game 31-31 with a field goal, sending the game into overtime.

In overtime, Brady seemed to march the Patriots down the field as he had done so many times throughout his career, and a Rex Burkhead touchdown gave the Patriots victory and a trip to the Super Bowl to face the Los Angeles Rams.

Xavier senior and Kansas City native John Russell commented, “You know, it is hard to be mad at the game. It was a great game, the one everyone wanted to see. It was sad to see because Kansas City wanted it, needed it, but I know our future is bright and Mahomes will bring a trophy to KC.”

The Rams and Patriots will meet in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta on Sunday, Feb. 3.

By: Michael Rauber | Staff Writer