The conference title games proved once again that a game can be decided by one play.
But if that is the case, it depends on when that play happened whether it is an exciting game.
When rookie Brock Purdy was knocked out in the first quarter, the 49ers chances of beating the Eagles were virtually doomed.
They still trailed only 14-7 late in the second quarter with Josh Johnson fumbled a shotgun snap and the Eagles recovered and went ahead 21-7 at halftime. And then Johnson suffered a concussion in the second half and departed and Purdy had to come back but could only hand off. And the Eagles were on their way to the Super Bowl.
It was the second year in the row the 49ers lost in the conference title game. They lost to the Rams last year after holding a 17-7 lead in fourth quarter.
And coach Kyle Shanahan has lost Super Bowls as a coordinator and a head coach. He was the Falcons offensive coordinator in the 28-3 game against the Patriots and couldn’t hold a 20-20 lead in fourth quarter against the Chiefs.
So the goal for Shanahan to win one remains elusive. The pressure will build on him to get a ring.
Meanwhile, the defining play of the Chiefs game was Patrick Mahomes getting pushed out of bounds with eight seconds left for a 15-yard penalty that set up the game winning field goal and meant there would be no overtime. It was an exciting ended Cincinnati’s three-game win streak over the Chiefs as Mahomes managed to win despite dealing with a high ankle sprain.
The Bengals also weren’t happy with two none calls on the final drive as the Chiefs apparently got away with an apparent push in the back on a punt return that set up good field position and a holding penalty on Mahomes’ scramble. If either play had been called, they would have had an overtime.
Now Mahomes will make his third trip to the Super Bowl in his first five years as a starter. It remains to be seen how much he will heal in the next two weeks as he deals with the high ankle sprain. The Eagles fierce pass rush figures to put a lot of pressure on Mahomes in the Super Bowl.
If Mahomes is close to full speed, it could be a great game. Otherwise, the Eagle pass rush could neutralize him the way Tampa Bay did when they beat him when he was playing behind a makeshift line.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati is the latest team to lose the Super Bowl and fail to win it the next year. It has happened only once since the Dolphins perfect season of 1972 after they lost the previous year.