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Conference title games are new stage for Ravens and Lions, old hat for Chiefs and 49ers

Your Wednesday morning news roundup 1/24/2024
Your Wednesday morning news roundup 1/24/2024 02:39

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For the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, getting to the conference title game is becoming old hat.

For the city of Baltimore and the Detroit Lions, being on this stage is a bit of a rarity.

When Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs visit the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game on Sunday, it will be the sixth time in six seasons as a starter that he has reached this stage.

That passes the Oakland Raiders of the 1970s for the second longest streak ever, just two shy of what Tom Brady and the New England Patriots did from 2011-18.

After Sunday, Mahomes will be tied for the third most starts for a quarterback in the conference title game since the merger, trailing only Brady (14) and Joe Montana (7). Mahomes' 14 TD passes are already second in conference championship game history — seven behind Brady — and he can move into second place in yards passing by throwing for 217 on Sunday.

The Ravens made it to this stage for the first time since their 2012 Super Bowl winning season and their fifth time ever. But they played their first four on the road, making this the first time that the city of Baltimore will host a conference championship game since the Colts beat the Raiders 27-17 in the first AFC championship game on Jan. 3, 1971.

The NFC matchup features the 49ers, who will be making their record 19th conference title game appearance, against the Lions, who are here for just the second time.

San Francisco lost the past two seasons on the road to the Rams and Eagles and are looking to avoid becoming the fifth team to lose at this stage in three straight seasons. Philadelphia (2001-03), Dallas (1980-82), the Rams (1974-76) and the Raiders (1973-75) are the other teams to do that.

The Niners have been a hit or miss team the past two decades. They have had only seven winning records in the past 21 seasons — tied for the 22nd most — but made the NFC title game in each of those seasons for the second most appearances in that span.

Brock Purdy joins Ben Roethlisberger and Mark Sanchez as the only QBs to start a conference title game in their first two seasons.

The Lions are one of four franchises never to appear in a Super Bowl and have won only one playoff game in the Super Bowl era before this season, when they went to the 1991 NFC championship game against Washington.

This is the third time in franchise history that they won two playoff games in the same year. They did it in 1952 and 1957 on the way to two of their three titles that decade.

Detroit has lost a record 11 straight road playoff games with the last win coming at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco in 1957 when the Lions rallied from 20 points down to beat the 49ers 31-27 in the divisional round.

The Buffalo Bills had another promising season end early after losing 27-24 to Kansas City when Tyler Bass missed a 44-yard field goal in the closing minutes wide right — of course.

This is the fifth straight season that the Bills won at least 10 games but failed to reach the Super Bowl. Only two other teams have ever done that with the Rams going six straight seasons from 1973-78 and the Eagles doing it five in a row from 1988-92.

The Rams did make it to the Super Bowl in the 1979 season despite winning only nine games that year.

The loss brought up painful memories for the Bills with Bass' miss conjuring memories of Scott Norwood's wide-right kick at the end of a 20-19 loss to the Giants in Super Bowl 25.

Bass was the third kicker to miss a potential tying or go-ahead field goal inside of 45 yards in the last two minutes of a playoff game in the last 10 years. Cody Parkey missed a 43-yarder in Chicago's 16-15 loss to Philadelphia in the 2018 wild-card round and Blair Walsh missed a 27-yarder for Minnesota in a 10-9 loss to Seattle in a 2015 wild-card game.

Lamar Jackson created his own new club with his playoff performance against Houston.

Jackson ran for 100 yards and two TDs, passed for 151 yards and two scores and posted a 121.8 passer rating in Baltimore's win over the Texans.

Jackson joined Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Jay Cutler and Otto Graham as the only players with at least two TD passes and runs in a playoff game. But Jackson became the first player ever to do that in any game — including the regular season — with at least 100 yards rushing and a 100 or better passer rating.

Jackson has three 100-yard rushing games in his five playoff starts, breaking Colin Kaepernick's record for the most 100-yard rushing games for a quarterback in playoff history.

Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen also showed off his rushing ability in a losing cause. He scored on two TD runs to tie Jalen Hurts' quarterback record set last year with 18 touchdown runs in a season, including the playoffs.

Allen also recorded his third season with at least 50 combined TDs passes and runs in the regular season and playoffs, joining Mahomes, Brady and Aaron Rodgers as the only players to do that three times.

Allen's 563 yards rushing in his career are the second most by a quarterback in the postseason, trailing only Steve Young's 594.

The Detroit Lions have gotten a record-setting performance from their rookie class.

Jahmyr Gibbs' 31-yard run last week was the 25th touchdown scored by a Lions rookie this season, breaking a tie with the 1999 Colts for the most scored by a rookie class in the regular season or playoffs.

Gibbs leads the way with 13 touchdowns this season, followed by second-round tight end Sam LaPorta with 11 and defensive back Brian Branch with one.

Gibbs, who was 21 years, 307 days old on Sunday, became the youngest player in NFL history to score a go-ahead TD in the fourth quarter or overtime of a playoff game.



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