The Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers both claimed shock wins last Saturday thanks to on-field goals when time expired despite both attending. NFL division ring clash in playoffs like losers.
Rookie striker Evan McPherson drilled a 52-yard goal to give the Bengals a 19-16 lead win overcame the first-seeded Tennessee Titans and advanced to their first match in the AFC Championship since the 1988 season.
Then, on the snowy Lambeau Field, Robbie Gould kicked in a 45m penalty to win a stunning 13-10 comeback against the Green Bay Packers to send them through to the NFC Championship game.
The two teams are now only one win away from Super Bowl LVI. The Bengal team will visit the Kansas City captains, while the 49ers will travel to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
For the Bengals, the 2021 season is a time of growth on the biggest stage.
A franchise that has had such little success – last weekend’s win over the Las Vegas Raiders was their first playoff win in 31 years – this is a dream run.
Behind second-year defender Joe Burrow, rookie Ja’Marr Chase and rookie starting McPherson, Cincinnati has developed one of the strongest fouls in the league.
After the win over the Titans, the Bengals players were full of praise for their kicker’s nerve, with Burrow speech he has “ice in his veins.”
Cave told reporters that before stepping out onto the field to win the match, McPherson said to him, “Well, looks like we’re going to be in the AFC Championship Match.”
Moments later, he was surrounded by his teammates after fulfilling his promise.
With temperatures below freezing and snowfall, traveling from California to Wisconsin to face Green Bay can be a daunting task.
And the Packers set the tone early at home, an impressive opening that ended with an AJ Dillion encounter to give them the lead.
While the 49ers’ attack struggled, so did the Packers then, with a blocked goal their only other real chance to score in the first half.
San Francisco got their own goal shortly after, before the Packers hit back on their own in the second half.
But it was a mistake by particular teams that changed the dynamics in favor of the 49ers, a blocked pass that allowed Talanoa Hufanga to pick up the ball loosely and run into a touchdown with less than five minutes remaining.
After stopping Green Bay’s offense again, the 49ers were able to get into position to allow Gould to land the decisive kick and advance to their second NFC championship game in three years.
While it was fun for the 49ers, the defeat started another reason for questioning the future of superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers at Green Bay.
The 37-year-old, the reigning NFL MVP, was supposed to win the award this season but said he was “a bit numb” after the defeat.
Read more about Bengals and Niners’s underdog victory here.