Kicker Evan McPherson #2 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after...

Kicker Evan McPherson #2 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after kicking the game winning field goal in overtime against Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 30, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri.  Credit: Getty Images/Jamie Squire

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals did the unthinkable and stunned the NFL world.

Cincinnati advanced to the Super Bowl with a miraculous 27-24 overtime victory over Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.

The Bengals came back from a 21-3 first-half deficit to reach the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1988 season, when Boomer Esiason was their quarterback.

Rookie kicker Evan McPherson drilled a 31-yard field goal with 9:22 remaining in overtime to capture the AFC championship in front of a mostly silent Arrowhead sellout crowd, except for the Cincinnati fans chanting, "Who Dey?"

The Bengals will play the Rams in Super LVI in Los Angeles on Feb. 13.

This is a team that won only two games in 2019 and four games in 2020. But the Bengals drafted Burrow first overall in 2020, and in his second NFL season, he led them to the Super Bowl.

"Special team," coach Zak Taylor said. "A special team that’s capable of doing special things. We believed from the get-go. We’re not surprised. This is where we were meant to be."

Burrow was 23-for-38 for 250 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He is the first quarterback not named Tom Brady to beat Mahomes in the playoffs.

"I think if you would have told me before the season that we’d be going to the Super Bowl, I would have called you crazy," Burrow said. "But then we played a whole season. I know the type of guys that we have and the team we have."

McPherson, whose 52-yard field goal as time expired gave the Bengals a 19-16 victory over the Titans in the divisional round, made all four of his field-goal attempts Sunday. Tee Higgins caught six passes for 103 yards, Ja’Marr Chase had six catches for 54 yards and a TD, and Joe Mixon ran for 88 yards.

Kansas City became the first team to host four straight conference championship games and was shooting for its third straight Super Bowl trip. But Mahomes stumbled after throwing touchdown passes on Kansas City’s first three drives. KC did not score again until Harrison Butker kicked a tying 44-yard field goal as time ran out in regulation.

Mahomes completed 26 of 39 passes for 275 yards, three touchdowns and two costly interceptions — one in overtime that set up the Bengals’ championship-clinching drive.

He also wasted valuable time at the end of the first half when Kansas City had first-and-goal from the 1 in the final seconds. KC was out of timeouts and ended up getting no points.

"I got to be better," Mahomes said. "We were up 21-3 at one point in the game. You can’t lose it. I put that on myself."

In last week’s thrilling divisional-round victory, Buffalo lost the overtime coin flip, Kansas City got the ball and scored a touchdown on its opening drive to win the game. When Cincinnati lost the coin flip on Sunday, the crowd cheered wildly, believing history would repeat itself.

Those cheers quickly faded. Mahomes was picked off on third down by Vonn Bell when a pass intended for Tyreek Hill was tipped by Jessie Bates.

The Bengals took over at their own 45 and Burrow completed two passes for 17 yards. Mixon carried the ball five times for 28 yards, including a 13-yard gain to the 12-yard line.

"It was just fitting," Taylor said. "The passing game got us where we needed to be, in position to kick the field goal. We felt like we were in range and then those guys took over in the run game and made it even easier."

With Kansas City leading 21-13 late in the third, Mahomes was picked off by former Giants defensive tackle B.J. Hill at the KC 30 and he returned it to the 27.

Five plays later, Burrow hit Chase for a 2-yard touchdown that made it 21-19 with 14 seconds left in the quarter. Burrow passed to Trent Taylor for the tying two-point conversion.

The Bengals took their first lead of the game when McPherson kicked a 52-yard field goal with 6:04 remaining for a 24-21 lead.

There was uneasiness inside the stadium, but Mahomes had been in this position before — as recently as last week.

He led Kansas City into the red zone in seven plays and had a first-and-goal from the 5 with 90 seconds remaining, but he was sacked on second and third down and fumbled on the latter sack. KC guard Joe Thuney recovered it at the 26.

Cincinnati was out of timeouts, so Kansas City let the clock run down. Butker’s 44-yard field goal as time expired sent the game to overtime — the fifth straight playoff game featuring a tying or winning kick as time expired in regulation.

Butker had done that against the Bills, too, kicking a 49-yard field goal as time expired to set up Mahomes’ touchdown pass to Travis Kelce in overtime, but this time Mahomes’ magic ran out.

"It’s definitely disappointing," he said. "With this group of guys that we have, we expect to be in that game and to win that game. Anything less than that is not success."

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