NFL play-offs: San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals claim divisional round upsets
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The San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals are one win away from Super Bowl 56 after each scoring game-winning baskets in the NFL play-offs.
The Bengals opened the divisional round on Saturday with a 19-16 victory as time expired at the AFC Conference seeded Tennessee Titans.
They will play the AFC Championship game for the first time since 1989.
The 49ers then upset the NFC’s top seed, the Green Bay Packers, fighting back to claim a 13-10 road win at the death.
San Francisco will play in the NFC Championship Game for the second time in three years at either the Los Angeles Rams or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday, while the Bengals will visit the Buffalo Bills or Kansas City Chiefs.
With the temperature dropping to -12C in a snow-capped Lambeau Field, conditions were expected to favor hosts over visitors from California.
But a blocked field goal just before halftime and then a blocked punt in the final quarter, which resulted in the 49ers’ only touchdown, proved costly for Green Bay, denying them a third straight championship appearance. NFC.
He also denied reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers another chance to become a multiple Super Bowl winner, in what the 38-year-old quarterback has hinted could be his last season.
Rodgers was hoping for a first win in four playoff games against his boyhood team, which dropped the quarterback selection with the first pick in the 2005 draft.
He is expected to be named league MVP for the fourth time and led the Packers to a touchdown on the first drive, with AJ Dillon running it from 16 yards.
But the defenses then took charge and the 49ers offense had negative yardage before their last possession of the first half, which ended with Jimmy Garoppolo’s pass being intercepted by Adrian Amos at four meters from the end zone.
San Francisco at least prevented Green Bay from extending their lead by blocking Mason Crosby’s 39-yard field goal attempt, and they cut the deficit by scoring a field goal just after halftime.
And although the Packers made it 10-3 with a field goal early in the fourth quarter, a blocked punt allowed Talanoa Hufanga to recover the loose ball and score a touchdown with less than five minutes left. .
The 49ers kicked the extra run to tie the game and forced the Packers into a triple before entering field goal range, with Robbie Gould kicking 45 yards out to silence the home crowd.
Burrow leads Bengals to unexpected victory
After claiming their first victory in a play-off for 31 years on the wildcard weekend, the Cincinnati Bengals have now recorded their first-ever away win in the play-offs.
The Titans tied the game late in the third quarter after trailing 16-6, but an interception gave Evan McPherson the chance to kick a field goal winner in Nashville.
The Bengals last reached the AFC Championship game in the 1988 season, when they ultimately lost to the 49ers in Super Bowl 23, and are now one win away after returning to the biggest game in the league. sport just two years after finishing with the NFL’s worst record.
This meant they had the first pick in the 2020 draft, with which they picked quarterback Joe Burrow, which helped transform the franchise and continued to show its rapid development.
The Titans have sacked Burrow nine times — more than any other game in his fledgling career — but the 25-year-old threw for 348 yards and put them in position to deliver the game-winning kick.
The hosts also welcomed running back Derrick Henry after 12 weeks away.
Henry was Offensive Player of the Year last season after rushing for 2,027 yards and leading the league with 937 when he fractured his foot in week eight of the regular season, but came back with a steel plate and five implanted screws.
Although he entered the end zone intact from three yards out in the second quarter, he failed to do the same with the two-point attempt so the Bengals led 9-6 at halftime. -time after scoring three field goals.
Joe Mixon made it 16-6 rushing for a 16-yard touchdown, before a dramatic two-minute spell saw Tennessee equalize before the final quarter.
The Titans threw a field goal and on the next play Burrow’s pass was knocked down by a receiver and Tennessee’s Amani Hooker dove to claim an interception.
Two plays later, Ryan Tannehill made an accurate pass to AJ Brown for a 33-yard touchdown and the Titans added the extra point to tie the game.
And a tense final quarter culminated when Tannehill was intercepted for the third time with 20 seconds remaining, by Cincinnati linebacker Logan Wilson.
Burrow then had two assists to bring the Bengals within goal range, and rookie kicker McPherson kept his composure to convert from 52 yards.