Mahomes the old man among 4 QBs in the championship game
Patrick Mahomes will be the old man among the starting quarterbacks in conference title games.
The 27-year-old Kansas City All-Pro is the oldest member of one of the youngest groups of starting quarterbacks to advance to this round.
The other three starting QBs scheduled for Sunday are Joe Burrow, 26, for Cincinnati, Jalen Hurts, 24, for Philadelphia and rookie Brock Purdy, 23, for San Francisco.
The only other time the four starting QBs in the conference title game had not yet turned 28 came in 1996 when Brett Favre (27), Mark Brunell (26), Drew Bledsoe (24) and Kerry Collins (24) made it happen.
Getting to this point is nothing new for Mahomes and Burrow. Mahomes reached the AFC title game in all five seasons as a starter and can join Tom Brady as the only starting QB to reach the Super Bowl three times in his first six seasons with a win on Sunday. .
Burrow earned his fifth playoff start last week against Buffalo, joining Russell Wilson (six) and Ben Roethlisberger (five) as the only QBs to earn at least five starts in their first three NFL seasons.
While Burrow was the No. 1 pick in 2020 and Mahomes went 10th in 2017, Hurts and Purdy have had more unlikely trips to this stage.
Hurts was picked in the second round in 2020 and Purdy went with the final pick in the 2022 draft. The winner on Sunday will join Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Nick Foles and Jimmy Garoppolo as the only ones of 192 QBs taken after the first round of the draft since 2002 going to the Super Bowl.
Purdy has already had a remarkable run, joining Joe Flacco (2008) and Mark Sanchez (2009) as the only rookies to earn two playoff starts. The only other rookies to make it to the conference title game were Shaun King (’99) and Ben Roethlisberger (’04), who did so with a win after a bye.
Purdy is looking to become the first rookie to make it to the Super Bowl with those four other losers. They had a combined passer rating of 51.8 in title games with nine interceptions, four TD passes and just 196.8 yards per game.
The Bengals and Chiefs will meet in the AFC title game for the second consecutive season, joining rare company for title game rematches.
Since the merger in 1970, the only other teams to meet in the conference title game in consecutive seasons are the Cowboys and 49ers (1970-71, 1992-94), Steelers and Raiders (1974- 76), the Oilers and Steelers (1978-79), the Browns and Broncos (1986-87) and the Ravens and Patriots (2011-12).
In five of those previous six rematches, the team won the first meeting and also won the second, with only Baltimore and New England going their separate ways. The 1976 Raiders and 1994 49ers won the trilogy game after losing the first two.
The 49ers and Bengals head into championship weekend on impressive streaks.
San Francisco has won 12 straight games and Cincinnati has won 10 straight, joining 10 other teams that have reached this round on a winning streak of at least 10 games.
The last team to do so was the 2007 Patriots, who won 17 straight before beating San Diego to qualify for the Super Bowl. Their attempt at perfection ended in a loss to the Giants.
Of the 10 previous teams to have winning streaks of at least 10 games in the championship game, only two have failed to qualify for the Super Bowl: the 1976 and 2004 Steelers.
Five of 10 have won it all with the 2003 Patriots, 1986 Giants, 1984 49ers, 1976 Raiders and 1972 Dolphins winning the championships.
Washington in 1983 and Atlanta in 1998 joined the 2007 Patriots as Super Bowl losers.
Kansas City coach Andy Reid took another step forward with his latest playoff victory that gave him 10 with the Chiefs and 10 with Philadelphia.
Reid’s 20 total playoff wins are tied with Hall of Famer Tom Landry for the second most in NFL history, behind only Bill Belichick with 31.
Reid has coached a team to the conference title game 10 times in the past 22 seasons, from 2001-2004 and in 2008 with Philadelphia and the past five seasons with Kansas City.
The only coaches with more conference title appearances in the Super Bowl era are Bill Belichick (13) and Landry (12).
Reid and the Chiefs also joined Belichick’s Patriots (2011-18) and John Madden’s Raiders (1973-77) as the only teams to get their five straight seasons.
JUST FOR FUN
San Francisco kicker Robbie Gould extended his streak of playoff perfection.
Gould made all four field goal tries against Dallas on Sunday, as well as his only extra point attempt. That made Gould perfect on all 67 kicks he attempted in 15 postseason games for the 49ers, Giants and Chicago. He scored all 29 field goals and 38 extra points.
The only other kicker in NFL history who is perfect in the playoffs with at least 10 field goals is Brandon McManus, who is 10 for 10 on field goals and 3 for 3 on extra points.
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