Patrick Mahomes says he has an even greater appreciation for the NFL career of Tom Brady after the Kansas City Chiefs lost in the playoffs.

The Chiefs were shocked 27-24 by the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday.

Despite having star quarterback Mahomes and a dominant offense, the Chiefs only have one Super Bowl title to show from their four straight championship game appearances.

Mahomes believes it shows how difficult it is to go all the way and puts the spectacular feat of Brady – soon expected to confirm his retirement – winning a record seven Super Bowl crowns into perspective.

"His career is one of a kind,'' Mahomes said, per ESPN, after the Bengals rallied from 18 points behind to record a shock win at Arrowhead Stadium. 

"That's why he's the GOAT. To win that many Super Bowls and win that many games, it's hard. 

"I understand that. The years that I've had, I've been close a lot. 

"I've only been there twice, and I've only won once. I understand it takes a special player, a special group of guys, special circumstances for that to happen.

"I'm just going to try to do whatever I can to get myself a chance every year to get in that game and to win it.''

Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also fell short in 2021, losing to the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round.

That was a result that extended a long streak of teams being unable to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

It has not been done since Brady and the New England Patriots won the title in back-to-back seasons in 2003 and 2004.

The Rams will meet the Bengals at SoFi Stadium on February 13.

Patrick Mahomes accepted responsibility after the Kansas City Chiefs suffered a dramatic 27-24 overtime defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game.

The Chiefs were heavy favourites coming into Sunday's game at Arrowhead Stadium and quickly built up a 21-3 advantage.

Despite a Bengals response, Kansas City were still 11 points clear when they had the ball on the Cincinnati one-yard line just before half-time.

But they misjudged the clock and failed to add to their advantage, as time expiring after a completed pass to Tyreek Hill meant they could not even kick a field goal.

The Bengals then rallied in the second half to move ahead 24-21 and while the Chiefs were able to get the game to overtime, it was Cincinnati who came out on top.

Just 34 yards, two first downs and an interception from Mahomes came from the first five Kansas City drives in the second half as the offense went completely flat, costing the hosts victory.

"When you're up 21-3 in a game, you can't lose it, and I put that on myself," Mahomes said.

"I was supposed to throw the ball away [in the play before halftime]. I got a little greedy there and tried to give it to Tyreek and get a touchdown, they had two people out there. 

"In the long run of things, it looks bad, but if we had another chance, I'd go for another play again.

"There was a few misreads here and there. There was guys that were open and I didn't hit at the right time or I passed up on something shorter that I wanted to get something deeper down the field. 

"When you're playing a good team and you don't hit what's there and you try to get a little bit more than what's necessary it kind of bites you in the butt, I guess you would say. 

"We were playing so well in the first half and in the second half, we were just off a tick and that's all it takes to lose a football game."

The Chiefs have been to four straight championship games with Mahomes as starter. Their two defeats, in this game and to the New England Patriots in 2018, both came in overtime.

Mahomes added: "A few plays here and there we could have four chances at the Super Bowl.

"You can't let this end what we have here, you have to make sure you continue to battle, continue to get better and try to find ways to win Super Bowls.''

Defeat cost the Chiefs a chance to reach a third straight Super Bowl.

Head coach Andy Reid was reluctant to blame star quarterback Mahomes, who was intercepted by B.J. Hill in the third quarter before throwing another pick to Vonn Bell in OT.

"Patrick's a great player, he was trying to make a play," he said when asked if Mahomes had pressed too much as the Chiefs started to lose their lead.

"I have got to do a better job at giving him things that he can make plays with. I can do a lot better in that area. 

"I could've given him other things to work with, better things, better plays to work with."

Of the Chiefs' mistake at the end of the first half, Reid added: "I was hoping we could get the ball in the end zone.

"I probably gave him the wrong play first of all. To start with, I could've given him something better than that, where the play was open in the end zone, and then we wouldn't have had to go through that. 

"I'll take responsibility for that one."

Mahomes completed 26 of 39 attempts and threw three touchdowns as well as his two picks.

Monty Williams is thrilled to be at the helm of the NBA's best team after a 40th win of the season for the Phoenix Suns saw him rewarded with a coaching role for the upcoming All-Star Game.

The Suns became the first team this season to hit 40 wins as they overturned a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to clinch their 10th straight win, beating the San Antonio Spurs 115-110.

Devin Booker top scored with 28 points including four three-pointers, while Mikal Bridges hit 26 and Chris Paul added 20 points, eight rebounds and a season-high 19 assists.

With his team the best in the Western Conference – and the league – Williams will now coach Team LeBron in next month's All-Star game.

"It's a huge blessing, to be in this position where you can be the caretaker of an organisation, represent an organisation, the city, the team, your family," Williams told a news conference.

"I'm mindful of that. I'm also mindful of all the sacrifices people make so I can be in this position. This is a team effort for sure. The players, what they do every day, our staff. The medical people.

"There's so many people that contribute to this. You get to coach the game but I'm thinking about everybody that has contributed. Our place is a special place, with a special group.

"I'm so grateful for the blessings that I have. God has blessed me beyond measure, in so many ways, to do what I do, get paid for it, live in Phoenix, drive the car I drive, have filtered water at home.

"I have so many things that I didn't have as a kid that I don't take for granted and this is another one."

Barring a surprising omission, Paul will join his coach in the 2022 All-Star Game.

Paul, an 11-time All-Star, has averaged 14.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 10.2 assists across 48 games so far in 2021-22, with his tally in the latter category leading the NBA.

"I'm just happy for Monty, happy for our staff," he told reporters.

"Everybody contributes to it, that's just the way our staff is, everybody plays a role in it. It may seem like something small to a lot of people but that's big.

"Some coaches coach in this league for a long time and never get that opportunity. I'm glad that more people around the world get a chance to see him celebrate."

Asked about his players saying they were determined to win in order to secure his place as an All-Star coach, Williams said: "It blew me away.

"I wasn't almost in tears about it but when I sat and thought about those guys thinking about me in that way I was quite emotional because it's really my job to put them in a position to be successful.

"To have them want me, our staff, to be in that position, says a lot about them. It's a special group and I'm grateful to be part of this resurgence of basketball here."

Kyle Shanahan insisted he would not be making a "farewell statement" to Jimmy Garoppolo in the wake of the San Francisco 49ers' defeat to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship game.

The Rams rallied to win 20-17 on Sunday at SoFi Stadium to seal progress to the Super Bowl, where they will face the Cincinnati Bengals at the same venue on February 13.

Los Angeles quarterback Matthew Stafford starred on the one-year anniversary of his trade to the Rams, leading three straight scoring drives to erase a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter, while Cooper Kupp caught two touchdown passes.

Aaron Donald's defensive work proved crucial in pressuring Garoppolo, who had a late, desperate throw intercepted by Travin Howard as the Rams became the first team fighting for a place at the Super Bowl to trail by double digits heading into the fourth quarter to then win a game.

Speculation is swirling over Garoppolo's future. The 30-year-old joined San Francisco for a record-breaking, $137.5million deal in 2017, and led them to the Super Bowl two years ago.

San Francisco are 35-16 when Garoppolo starts and 8-31 when he does not, yet it seems that the 49ers may well part ways with the quarterback, who has a year left to run on his deal. They traded up to three in last year's draft to bring in Trey Lance, who threw for 603 yards and five touchdowns across six appearances this season.

Shanahan, however, refused to confirm that Garoppolo had played his last game for the Niners.

"I love Jimmy," Shanahan said in his post-game news conference.

"I'm not going to sit here and make a farewell statement or anything right now. It's the last stuff on my mind. Jimmy has battled his a** off.

"He battled today. He did some unbelievable things today. I love coaching Jimmy."

Garoppolo completed 301 of his 441 passes in the regular season, for a completion rate of 68.3, ranking him sixth in the league. His 8.64 yards per pass attempt ranked second.

He completed 16 of his 30 passes on Sunday (a completion percentage of 53.3) for 232 yards and two touchdowns, though the sole interception proved crucial.

"[The emotions] hit pretty hard in the locker room," Garoppolo said.

"I think these next couple of days it will really start to settle in a little bit. Emotions are high after a game win or loss, and it's one of those things you've got to be glad it happened, smile from it, and think about the good things.

"We'll see what happens in these next couple days, weeks, whatever, but I love this team. Just the fight and the battle in this team throughout the entire year has been really impressive. I love those guys.

"I've got no regrets from this year."

Christian Eriksen has signed for Brentford as he completes a remarkable return to the Premier League after suffering a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.

The Denmark international collapsed during a clash with Finland last June and subsequently required surgery to fit an ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator) to his heart.

Rules in Italy prevent players from playing after having such a device fitted, so the 29-year-old's time with Inter came to an end.

However, it is not illegal to play professional sport in England with an ICD, nor in the Netherlands – where Daley Blind could continue playing fo Ajax after having the device fitted.

Eriksen had been training at his former club Odense to build up his fitness, while he also recently joined Ajax's training sessions with the Eredivisie leaders' reserve side.

Fellow Dane Thomas Frank has now acted by signing the former Tottenham man, who he coached when the midfielder was in Denmark's Under-17s side, on a deal until the end of the season.

"I am looking forward to working with Christian again," Bees boss Frank told the club's official website. "It has been a while since I last coached him, and a lot has happened since then.

"Christian was 16 at the time and has become one of the best midfield players to appear in the Premier League. He has also won trophies all over Europe and become the star of the Danish national team.

“We have taken an unbelievable opportunity to bring a World Class player to Brentford. He hasn’t trained with a team for seven months but has done a lot of work on his own. He is fit but we will need to get him match fit and I am looking forward to seeing him work with the players and staff to get back towards his highest level.

“At his best, Christian has the ability to dictate games of football. He can find the right passes and is a goal threat. He also has very, very good set-piece delivery, both from corners and direct free-kicks.

"He is a player you can find with the ball, and he will come up with a solution to the problem in front of him. Christian will also bring experience of top level football to the Club. I expect him to have an impact in the dressing room and at the training ground."

Eriksen appeared 226 times in the English top flight for Spurs, scoring 56 times and assisting 62.

The playmaker still holds the club record at Spurs for most assists in a single Premier League campaign, recording 15 during the 2016-17 season.

He joined Inter on a four-and-a-half-year deal in January 2020 and was a part of Antonio Conte's title-winning team that ended a 10-year wait for the Scudetto last season.

Brentford have lost their past four Premier League games, leaving them 14th in the table. They are next in action in the FA Cup against Everton on Saturday.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes says that bowing out of the postseason with an overtime loss in the AFC Championship Game cannot be seen as a success.

The Chiefs, competing in their third consecutive AFC Championship Game, went down 30-27 in overtime to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

Mahomes was dominant early with three touchdown passes in the first half as they opened up a 21-3 second-quarter lead, finishing the game completing 26 of 39 attempts for 275 yards.

But the Chiefs, champions two years ago and runners-up last season, let slip their lead with Mahomes' overtime pass intercepted by Vonn Bell before Evan McPherson's game-winning field goal.

"The leaders on this team know this isn't our standard," Mahomes said at the post-game news conference. "We want to win the Super Bowl.

"Whenever you taste winning the Super Bowl, anything less than that is not success. It's definitely disappointing.

"Here, with this group of guys that we have, we expect to be in that game and win that game, and anything less than that is not success.

"We'll go back and look at all the things we did well, the adversity we battled through, the team we became at the end of the season and try to learn from the mistakes we made and try to be better next year.''

Mahomes threw 11 touchdown passes in the postseason but the Chiefs were undone in defense against the Bengals, conceding 55 points in their two losses to the AFC champions across the season.

"Unfortunately this is final and that's where we sit now," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said at the post-game news conference.

"Our players are disappointed obviously. They've put a lot of time and effort into this, putting themselves into this position for a Championship Game, I'm proud of that."

The Los Angeles Rams would not be in the Super Bowl without two-touchdown NFC Championship Game hero Cooper Kupp, according to head coach Sean McVay.

The Rams edged the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 with quarterback Matthew Stafford finding Kupp for two touchdown passes.

Kupp had 11 receptions for 142 yards for the game, with his fourth-quarter TD helping them reel in a 10-point final-change deficit.

The 28-year-old led the NFL in the key receiver statistics with 145 receptions, 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns. Kupp has 386 receiving yards this postseason, which is the third all-time most in playoffs history before the Super Bowl.

"He's just a special player," McVay said at the post-game news conference. "I talked about Matthew [Stafford], competitive greatness, Cooper was that today.

"Just big catch after big catch. He's competing in the run game. He does so many things.

"We'd have no chance of being here today without Cooper Kupp."

The victory means the Rams have reached the Super Bowl for the second time in five seasons under McVay, having been beaten by the New England Patriots three years ago.

Stafford completed 31 of 45 passing attempts for 337 yards with his two touchdown passes for Kupp.

The Rams traded in 33-year-old QB Stafford from the Detroit Lions in March last year, with the move paying off.

"We went out and got him because we thought it was a chance to get a great player of his magnitude," McVay said. "Those things don’t come around often.

"He's elevated everybody around him. He's made me a better coach. He's made his teammates better. He's such a great person.

"He's a great competitor. We've seen that all season but it's really been on display this last couple of weeks. We talk about competitive greatness, he embodied that today."

Stafford endured years of under-achievement with the Lions, with only three postseason games which were all defeats, and was delighted to reach a Super Bowl for the first time in his 13-year career.

"I don’t know that I ever thought about what I'd be feeling at this moment," Stafford said. "I probably just sat there and wished I'd be in those games.

"I'm so happy that I've got that opportunity and we've got an opportunity to be in another one that I've always wanted to play in."

He added: "Long time coming, you know. [I] Spent a lot of years in this league, I've loved every minute of it. I feel blessed to be able to play in this league as long as I have. It's an opportunity."

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic triumphed against Giannis Antetokounmpo as the Denver Nuggets routed the reigning champions Milwaukee Bucks 136-100 on Sunday.

Jokic almost recorded his 13th triple-double of the season, while he matched his season-high for assists with 13.

The Serbian had 18 points, nine rebounds and 15 assists for the Nuggets, while Aaron Gordon contributed a team-high 24 points including four triples as Denver dominated the second half 71-43 after leading by eight points at the long break.

Antetokounmpo, who won the 2019 and 2020 MVP awards, finished with 29 points but only managed seven in the second half. The Greek forward also had nine rebounds and two assists.

Khris Middleton was kept quiet offensively with nine points, five rebounds and seven assists while Jrue Holiday added 14 points, five rebounds and eight assists.

The Nuggets improve to 28-21 overall aided by a five-game win streak, including four on the road, while the Bucks slip to 31-21.

 

Suns fight back for 10 straight

The table topping-Phoenix Suns overturned a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to clinch their 10th straight win, beating the San Antonio Spurs 115-110. Devin Booker top scored with 28 points including four three-pointers, while Chris Paul was exceptional with 20 points, eight rebounds and a season-high 19 assists.

Trae Young starred with 36 points and 12 assists as the Atlanta Hawks extended their winning streak to seven games with a 129-121 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, who were without LeBron James for the third straight game with a knee soreness. Malik Monk scored 33 points for the Lakers.

Luka Doncic recorded a triple-double with 34 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists but the Dallas Mavericks lost 110-108 to the Orlando Magic, while 2021 top draft pick Cade Cunningham claimed a second career triple-double in the Detroit Pistons' 115-105 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

Jazz starter suffers worrying injury

Utah Jazz swingman Joe Ingles went down with an apparent knee injury in the second quarter of their 126-106 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Jazz confirmed Ingles will undergo an MRI in Salt Lake City on Monday.

The Los Angeles Rams rallied from a 10-point three-quarter time deficit to clinch a spot in Super Bowl LVI with a 20-17 NFC Championship Game victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

The Rams will face the Cincinnati Bengals at their home, SoFi Stadium, on Sunday February 13.

Matthew Stafford completed 31 of 45 attempts for 337 yards, combining with Cooper Kupp for two crucial touchdowns, including one in the fourth quarter alongside two Matt Gay field goals to overturn the deficit.

Gay put the Rams ahead from 30 yards with 1:46 left, before Aaron Donald pressured Jimmy Garoppolo into an interception for Travin Howard to practically end the game with 1:09 remaining.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr was excellent for the Rams too, with nine catches for 113 yards.

After a scoreless first quarter Stafford found Kupp, who starred with 11 catches for 142 yards, in the corner for the opening TD. But 49ers running back Deebo Samuel, who had seven carries for 76 yards and four receptions for 72 yards, levelled it up with a remarkable catch and run before Robbie Gould's field goal earned them a 10-7 half-time lead.

The 49ers moved 10 points clear when Garoppolo, who made 16 of 30 passes for 232 yards, threw another TD pass in the third quarter for George Kittle, but the Rams would rally with Stafford finding Kupp early in the fourth to narrow the gap.

Jaquiski Tartt inexplicably dropped a routine pick, allowing the Rams to drive forward for Gay to score from 40 yards. Five minutes later he did it again, before the Rams defense clinched the win.

LeBron James has returned to Los Angeles for treatment on his left knee after missing a third straight game as the Lakers went down 129-121 to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel confirmed that James had returned to LA on Saturday, having undergone an MRI that revealed "general swelling".

The 37-year-old, who has scored 25 points or more in 18 straight games, had initially missed Thursday's 105-87 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers after waking up with soreness.

"As long as the swelling is there, he's going to be out and we'll get him back as soon as we can," Vogel told reporters. "Just going to keep an eye on it day to day."

Four-time MVP James is averaging 29.1 points, tied for second in the league, with 7.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists. The veteran is averaging 36.6 minutes per game, which ranks fourth in the NBA.

"I think about it every day," Vogel said when asked about James' workload. "We're always mindful of the load that he's carrying, in constant communication with him and the medical team.

"In terms of what we do going forward with the knee and where he's at, it's really a heavy lean on the medical staff and [trainer] Mike Mancias and what they feel is best. It's really not a head-coach thing as much as it is relying on the medical team."

The Lakers are 24-27 in the Western Conference after finishing their six-game road trip with a 2-4 record.

Panama remained undefeated all-time against Jamaica in World Cup qualification, rallying from a goal down to win 3-2 at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City on Sunday evening.

The visitors were ahead in the fifth minute when Michail Antonio converted from the penalty spot to give Jamaica its first goal against Panama in qualification since Marvin Elliott’s 2013 tally.

Panama pushed, however, and had its efforts rewarded by a penalty of its own in the 18th minute. But they came away empty-handed, as Eric Davis’ shot down the middle was saved by Jamaica GK Andre Blake to keep Jamaica in the lead.

The Panama equalizer came when Blake was beaten by his own defender just before the halftime break, with the goalkeeper trying to punch clear a cross from Edgar Yoel Barcenas, only to send it onto the head of Javain Brown and into his own net.

Davis worked to atone for his penalty miss in the 51st minute, taking advantage of a rebound from another Barcenas shot and sending a low blast past Blake to give Panama the 2-1 advantage.

The advantage was then extended in the 69th minute as Azmahar Ariano Navarro scored with a sweep of his foot after a Panama corner kick fell to him.

Jamaica wasn’t ready to concede defeat, though, with Andre Gray heading a cross past Panama goalkeeper Luis Mejia to put the Caribbean squad within striking distance.

In the end, though, Panama’s defence held tough and got the victory that keeps the Canaleros in sole possession of fourth place in the table.

Panama now travels to meet Mexico at the Estadio Azteca, while Jamaica returns home to square off with Costa Rica.

Mexico missed the chance to move up to second in the CONCACAF standings and firm up their grip on a 2022 World Cup qualification spot after an underwhelming 0-0 draw with Costa Rica on Sunday.

El Tri struck the woodwork twice in the second half from Luis Alberto Rodriguez and substitute Luis Romo's efforts, with Mexico unable to regularly test Ticos goalkeeper Keylor Navas despite their domination.

Mexico had 73 percent possession and 25 shots on goal, compared to Costa Rica's six, but the hosts only managed one on target with Navas saving Hector Herrera's 45th-minute free-kick, heaping more pressure on head coach Gerardo Martino.

Rogelio Funes Mori had a 31st-minute goal disallowed for offside, while Hirving Lozano returned from suspension but was wasteful with a handful of chances. Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa denied Costa Rica's best chance from Celso Borges' 39th-minute header.

The result means Mexico, who have managed just four points from their past four qualifiers, remain third in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying standings, missing the chance to go past the United States, who lost 2-0 to leaders Canada.

Canada have 22 points from 10 games, with USA and Mexico second and third on 18 points each while Panama beat Jamaica 3-2 on Sunday to sit fourth on 17 points. The top three sides automatically qualify for Qatar, with fourth to face a playoff. Costa Rica kept alive their faint qualification hopes with the draw, sitting fifth with 13 points.

The Cincinnati Bengals reached their first Super Bowl since 1989 after a pulsating 27-24 overtime win against the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday's AFC Championship Game.

Patrick Mahomes had started in inspired form at Arrowhead Stadium, delivering three touchdown passes to put the Chiefs 21-3 ahead, but the Bengals roared back in stunning fashion to move 24-21 in front.

A Harrison Butker field goal with three seconds left took the game to overtime, yet Evan McPherson ensured a memorable win for the Bengals with a field goal of his own.  

They will face either the Los Angeles Rams or the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVI in a fortnight.

Joe Burrow heaped praise on the Cincinnati Bengals defense after Vonn Bell's interception set up their dramatic 27-24 overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.

The Bengals completed the equal biggest comeback win in Championship Game history, rallying from a 21-3 down in the second quarter after Patrick Mahomes' three touchdown passes.

But Cincinnati would not concede again to roar ahead 24-21 until Harrison Butker's field goal with three seconds left to send the game to overtime, as Burrow led the rally offensively, completing 23 of 38 attempts for 250 yards and two touchdowns.

The Chiefs won the vital coin flip for overtime, yet Bell's pick on a Mahomes' throw allowed the Bengals to gain possession, with Burrow driving them forward with Tee Higgins and Joe Mixon to set up McPherson's decisive kick.

As a result, the Bengals reached their first Super Bowl since 1989 with Burrow heaping praise on their defense.

"Our defense was unbelievable in the second half," Burrow told CBS after the game. "They had a great plan on defensive side against us. We struggled a little bit. I'm a little speechless right now."

The victory continues Cincinnati's dream postseason run, having overcome the top-seeded Tennessee Titans 19-16 and Las Vegas Raiders 26-19.

Burrow added: "We've been a second-half team all year. You don’t really want to be that way but that's how it's worked out.

"Our defense has really stepped up in the second half and on offense we made plays when we had to. I thought the offensive line was great. We started running the ball, it was a great overall team effort.

"Usually when you lose a coin flip to those guys, you're going home."

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor called his side a "special team" and reiterated that they were not done yet, ahead of the Super Bowl against either the Los Angeles Rams or San Francisco 49ers.

"We've got a special team and we've overcome a lot of deficits this year," Taylor said. "We always believe in all three phases. Everyone stepped up and we're not done yet.

"[It's] special, nothing we'll ever forget. We're not done yet. Our fans say 'who dey?', we dem."

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