Philadelphia Eagles coach Nick Sirianni acknowledges his Kansas City Chiefs exit under Andy Reid left him with a "chip on your shoulder" ahead of their Super Bowl LVII encounter.

The two will face off on Sunday at State Farm Stadium in Arizona, with the former set to face off against the team he started his NFL coaching career with in 2009.

Sirianni worked his way through the ranks to become receivers coach with the Chiefs but exited the role in 2013 after Reid arrived as head coach, having brought assistant David Culley with him.

Though he has no issue with how his departure was handled by Reid, Sirianni still looks upon his departure as motivation to get the better of his opposite number years later.

"Do you always have this little chip on your shoulder? Sure, yeah, you do," he said. "But that's who I am as a coach and as a person.

"I want to make sure I'm working my butt off to get as good as I possibly can. You hold on to some of those things.

"Did I want to leave Kansas City? No. My future wife was from there, she had a nice teaching job, she had all her friends there, her mom and dad were a half-hour down the road.

"Of course I didn't want to leave there. But when I look at it, God's always put me in great positions and guided my paths. I know I don't say stuff like that all the time, but I know he has."

Sirianni subsequently joined the San Diego Chargers, holding a number of positions he became offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts.

He posted a 9-8 record in his first year in charge of the Eagles in 2021, before bettering that with a 14-3 finish this season to set them on the path to Super Bowl LVII.

Patrick Mahomes never wants to experience the sour taste of defeat in a Super Bowl again, as the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback prepares to face the Philadelphia Eagles.

Mahomes was MVP when the Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV three years ago, but a year later they were outgunned by Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Last season saw Kansas City edged out by the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game, so they missed out on the biggest game of the year.

This time they are back in the spotlight in Phoenix, raring to go at Glendale's State Farm Stadium, and Mahomes underlined the highs and lows of the Super Bowl as he looked back on his mixed bag of experiences.

"The win is amazing," said Mahomes. "It's one of the best moments of your entire life. You take away all the positives from that.

"But that loss, that stings. That motivates you for years. That's what it's done for me. It's motivated me to be back in this game again. I want to make sure that I can have that winning feeling and not that losing one because that losing feeling is one you'll never forget."

He said the Eagles possess "one of the best defensive lines in history", and with both teams managing NFL-best 14-3 records in the regular season it is clear Sunday's match will see the two best teams of the year duke it out for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Ahead of Super Bowl LVII, Mahomes spoke at Opening Night, saying: "The motivating factor is to be the best.

"You're in the biggest game of your life, and you want to go out there and make memories with your teammates. I think the biggest motivating factor is to step on that field and try to be the best. We know we have a great challenge in the Philadelphia Eagles, so it'll be a great game."

There will be a first sight of two African American quarterbacks going head to head in a Super Bowl, with Mahomes facing Jalen Hurts.

"It's special," Mahomes said.

"I have a lot of respect for the guys who came before me and laid the foundation. To play against a guy like Jalen – a genuine, great dude who has worked his tail off to be in the position that he's in – it's going to be a special game and a special moment for a lot of kids to watch."

Patrick Mahomes' injured ankle is "definitely better" than before the AFC Championship Game as he prepares for his third Super Bowl appearance on Sunday.

Mahomes helped the Chiefs reach a third Super Bowl in five seasons by helping Kansas City defeat the Cincinnati Bengals in the Conference Championship on January 29.

It was a case of the MVP frontrunner overcoming the odds, knocking off a Bengals team that had stunned them at the same stage last season despite playing on a sprained ankle he suffered in the Divisional round win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Mahomes will now go against a vaunted Eagles defense in a mouth-watering Super Bowl LVII clash at State Farm Stadium in Arizona.

And he goes into the game seemingly in much improved shape.

Asked about his ankle at Super Bowl Opening Night in Phoenix on Monday, Mahomes replied: "It's definitely better for sure.

"You never know until you get into the game, but it's definitely better than it was this time last week before the game.

"I'll play through all the injuries that the trainers let me play through."

He then joked: "[Tight end] Travis Kelce hurts my feelings like every single day and I still play so I'm still going to play through it and try to get a win."

Mahomes threw for 5,250 yards and 41 touchdowns in the regular season, marking the second time in his already glittering career he has surpassed 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in the same season.

The Eagles represent arguably his biggest test yet, though, their defense the best in the NFL by yards per play allowed. In two playoff games, Philadelphia's defense has given up a combined 14 points.

Outside of the World Cup and the Olympic Games, no sporting event commands attention quite like the Super Bowl. 

The build-up to an opening kick-off witnessed by a cavalcade of television and smartphone cameras is a week-long celebration of North America's dominant professional sport, a seven-day period in which talking heads agonise over every storyline in the only game of the year that doubles as a de-facto national holiday in the United States.

On occasion, such storylines may be contrived in a bid to create excitement for a matchup that does not instantly capture the imagination. Yet the modern NFL is one spoilt by the number of captivating contenders that reside in the league, and commissioner Roger Goodell could not have asked for a more enticing Super Bowl clash than the one that will take place in Arizona on Sunday.

Indeed, the meeting between AFC Champions the Kansas City Chiefs and NFC Champions the Philadelphia Eagles is one positively teeming with storylines that make Super Bowl LVII a game worthy of the ceaseless hype it will receive before Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts and Co. settle matters on the field in their fight to secure the Vince Lombardi Trophy. 

Mahomes and Hurts are poised to make history with their duel at State Farm Stadium. Their matchup is the first in the Super Bowl between two black starting quarterbacks and, by the time the Chiefs and Eagles have taken the field, one of them will likely have been crowned as MVP — both are finalists for the league’s most prestigious individual honour, which will be announced at a ceremony in Phoenix on Thursday.

Theirs is a battle between a signal-caller who is by this point established as the gold standard of his generation, with a prospective second MVP for Mahomes just reward for a campaign in which he threw for 50 passing touchdowns and over 5,000 yards in the same season for the second time in his career, and a quarterback who seems to be in the midst of an unexpected rise to the elite after startling growth in his second full season as a starter.

Yet both head into the game with plenty to prove. Mahomes will consider it past time to end his wait for a second Super Bowl title after breaking the hearts of the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, while there will be many still questioning whether Hurts can excel against this calibre of opposition. The Eagles went 14-1 with him as the starter in the regular season but faced only six teams who finished the year with a winning record. So far in the postseason, they have blown out an overachieving New York Giants team and seen a mouth-watering NFC Championship Game with the 49ers reduced to a no-contest after injuries left San Francisco with no healthy quarterbacks.

But questions about the opposition Hurts has faced do nothing to detract from the quality of his overall play. He has performed extremely impressively as a deep-ball thrower, with his passer rating of 112.1 on passes of 21 air yards or more the fourth-best among quarterbacks with at least 25 such attempts. The Eagles have utilised Hurts’ running ability to devastating effect as he has rushed for 13 touchdowns, while the Philadelphia quarterback ranks fourth in yards over expected in true passing situations (among quarterbacks with at least 100 such throws).

Mahomes is second by the same measure, illustrating this game’s status as a legitimate matchup between two of the very best at the game’s most important position.

Both Mahomes and Hurts will depend heavily on a man named Kelce as they look to guide their team to glory, with Travis and Jason becoming the first brothers to play against each other in the Super Bowl. Tight end Travis Kelce became the undisputed top option in the Kansas City offense in the wake of the Tyreek Hill trade and added another hugely impressive season to a Hall of Fame resume. 

His campaign featured 1,338 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns with his 19 receptions of at least 20 yards the most of any tight end and the seventh-most in the NFL. The impact of an offensive lineman can sometimes be less tangible, but no center in the league makes their presence as obvious as Jason Kelce, the engine to an Eagles line that ranks first in pass block win rate and second in run block win rate, according to Stats Perform data.

Both Kelce brothers were drafted by Andy Reid, Jason picked in 2011 when the 64-year-old was Eagles head coach, with Travis then selected in his first year in Kansas City in 2013, a tenure in Philadelphia defined by frustrating near-misses coming to an end in 2012.

Reid lost three successive NFC Championship Games with the Eagles between the 2001 and 2003 seasons before finally getting them to the Super Bowl in the 2004 campaign, with his time management skills vehemently criticised in a loss to the New England Patriots.

He got back to the NFC Championship Game one more time with Philadelphia in the 2008 season, but never did so again following a loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Though his triumph with the Chiefs four years ago will obviously have softened the pain of seeing the Eagles get over the hump without him in the 2017 campaign, a contest between a man who could never quite get job done in Philadelphia and a coach in Nick Sirianni who is a game away from winning the Super Bowl in his second season is a fascinating plot point in a heavyweight encounter. 

Such will be the attention on messrs Mahomes, Hurts, Reid and the brothers Kelce that some of the critical battles on which the destination of the Lombardi could hinge may well fly under the radar.

Chief among them will be the fight in the trenches. Defensive Player of the Year contender Chris Jones has led the way for a Kansas City defensive line that has tallied 18 quarterback hits in the postseason, tied for the most among 2022 playoff teams. However, he and his team-mates up front will be tested not only in defeating the blocks of the Philadelphia offensive line but in tempering the aggressiveness by which Steve Spagnuolo's defense has come to be defined against a diverse Philadelphia ground game that is well-equipped to use it against Kansas City.

In comparison to Jones, Kansas City’s young secondary is an underrated aspect of the Chiefs’ roster. The Chiefs' defense ranks 11th in open percentage allowed, though the prospective return of cornerback L'Jarius Sneed from a head injury will be key to their hopes of limiting the impact of the Eagles' star receiver duo of A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, who rank 11th and 13th respectively in combined open percentage across man and zone coverage. 

Sneed has lost just 22 of his 76-man coverage matchups. Only four players to have faced 75 such matchups have allowed a receiver to get open less often.

Stopping the Eagles is of course only half the battle for Kansas City and, for as frequently as 'Mahomes magic' has rescued the Chiefs, he cannot do it alone.

Encouragingly, the Chiefs rank ninth in rushing offense in Stats Perform's Efficiency Versus Expected metric and are going against an Eagles defense 21st by the same metric against the run.

The Eagles largely shut down the 49er run game in the NFC Championship Game, but that was primarily due to the fact the Philadelphia defense could focus solely on stopping the ground attack with the threat of the passing game removed.

With Philadelphia having played an offense that was reduced solely to running the ball, the Chiefs will have received an in-depth look at how the Eagles fit their defense to stop the rush, potentially improving their odds of finding weaknesses in that area and taking advantage of them.

Mahomes remains the primary weapon and most will expect and want to see a bewitching duel between and the top two MVP candidates. Yet the Super Bowl can throw up unexpected heroes and, though there are bonafide stars and storylines aplenty, the post-game tales could well be of the job the Eagles did on Jones, how rookie Isiah Pacheco gashed Philadelphia’s run defense or how Sneed and Jaylen Watson kept Brown and Smith at bay. There's plenty of intrigue beneath the surface in a potential all-time classic.

Patrick Mahomes revealed as no surprise that he wanted to retain star wide receiver Tyreek Hill for this season, but he trusted the plan of Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach.

Hill, 28, was drafted by the Chiefs as a fifth-rounder in 2015, and he is likely on track to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame after becoming one of the most devastating offensive weapons in league history.

He made the Pro Bowl every year from 2016-2022, and this season earned his fourth First Team All-Pro selection after setting career-highs with 119 receptions and 1710 yards with the Miami Dolphins.

Veach said there were warning signs early in free agency that Hill would demand a record-breaking contract for a receiver, and he had to make the painful decision to prioritise the defensive side of the ball instead.

"It became obvious as free agency started, given the way wide receiver contracts were going up, that it was going to be tough to do both [extend Hill and address the defense]," he said. 

The Chiefs knew some tough calls were on the horizon after Mahomes signed his NFL-record 10-year, $450million deal, as his salary jumped from $8m in 2021 to $35m this season.

Hill ended up signing a four-year, $120m deal – and in a salary-capped league, something had to give.

"Everyone knew what the next two or three years would look like and how many players we'd have to potentially cut and how difficult things would be,'' he said. "We would have had a lot of expensive players.

"It's hard to be successful in this league year after year. It's hard to win games year after year. There are going to be moments where we have to step out there and do something uncomfortable. 

"No one wanted to lose Tyreek – he's a great player. But if you're going to do something, trust the process and trust how you do things and don't be afraid to commit to change a year sooner when you have more ability to potentially make those changes work better.''

Veach said his willingness to make such a franchise-defining call is attributed to his belief that the franchise can not waste any seasons with Mahomes at the helm.

"When you have Pat Mahomes, we're wired to go after it every year,'' he said.

Mahomes himself said it was no secret that he wanted to re-sign Hill and keep the band together after winning the Super Bowl in 2020, but he understood all the moving pieces.

"I wanted to keep him, for sure,'' he said. "They had a plan for it, though. 

"They told me the plan and we were going to get these draft picks. We were going to go out there and bring in some free agent receivers, and I think they executed on that.

"We know that to keep having success in this league we have to keep evolving, keep getting better. I always want to be successful this year, but at the same time, I'm here for the long haul. 

"If we're going to have a long time here, I want to have a chance to win Super Bowls every single year.''

The Chiefs' other offensive star, Travis Kelce, said he had concerns after the Hill trade, including how effective the Chiefs might be on offense and what it all might mean for him.

"Yes, that was a question,'' he said. "But once I saw how hard guys were working, paying attention to details, how Pat keeps progressing as a quarterback... Right now, we're in a good routine that we just keep getting better. 

"You could feel that from the day we started from May until now."

Mahomes is in his fifth year as a starter, and after another spectacular season he is the favourite to add a second MVP to his resume, as well as a fourth All-Pro selection, while he prepares for a chance at his second championship.

Philadelphia Eagles centre Jason Kelce says next week's Super Bowl will be more stressful for his parents than himself and brother Travis.

The pair will become the first brothers to face off in NFL's biggest match, with both aiming to land their second ring, when the Eagles take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Arizona.

Mother Donna and father Ed Kelce will be in attendance at State Farm Stadium for the family affair, and older brother Jason would rather be in his position than theirs. 

"I think it's always stressful for the people watching," he told reporters. "I think that's probably more [stressful]... not even just parents but also the coaches and fans. 

"When you don't have control on the field of what's happening, I think that's a stressful situation. 

"I feel like when you're playing, there's a sense of control in the outcome and you can have a difference in it yourself. So it's a little bit less stressful. 

"I would imagine my parents would probably be a little stressed out. I think they are every time they're watching a game."

Jason won the Super Bowl with the Eagles in 2017, while Travis – two years younger than his brother – did so with the Chiefs in 2019.

While rivals on the field, however, Jason explained the pair remain as strong as ever off it, even if the dynamic of their relationship has changed over the years.

"I grew up the older brother, so I was then much more mature, which I don't know if that's a good word to describe me, but I was more mature than him," he said.

"I think when you get to a certain point being brothers, it becomes more of a peer relationship. 

"I'm no longer telling him what to do or showing them the ropes or trying to offer guidance as an older brother. 

"Now it's more just a friend and a different type of brother, right? He does the same for me. I get advice from him now, which growing up didn't happen too often. 

"I think the dynamic has changed a little bit in that regard. We get to genuinely just enjoy each other's personalities and who we are as individuals, and I think that makes it fun."

The trophy every player in the NFL wants to lift will be hoisted in Arizona a week on Sunday, when the Kansas City Chiefs face the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII.

On the preceding Thursday, a host of players and coaches will receive recognition for their individual efforts at the annual NFL Honors ceremony.

The candidates for the awards are furiously debated throughout each season, though this year the field has been trimmed for each prize with the NFL releasing list of finalists for the first time.

In the case of MVP, the top two candidates are the quarterbacks facing off in the Super Bowl, with Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts also going head to head for the game's most illustrious award.

But who does Stats Perform's advanced data say should be the recipients of the prizes on offer at Symphony Hall in Phoenix? Here we name our award winners for 2022, including one not among the finalists who'll be on the red carpet next week.

MVP: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Though these are regular-season awards, Mahomes' heroics on one leg in the AFC Championship Game were the perfect illustration of why he is the most valuable player in the league.

Even when physically impaired by a sprained ankle, Mahomes can produce magical plays through the air and on the ground in the biggest moments, and this season he has elevated a supporting cast shorn of the downfield threat of Tyreek Hill.

Only Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills averaged more yards over expected in true passing situations than Mahomes' 1.66 (minimum 100 such plays). Mahomes, though, had the edge in terms of accuracy, delivering a well-thrown ball on 82.1 per cent of his pass attempts, outperforming both Allen (79.7%) and Hurts (81).

Surpassing 5,000 passing yards and 40 passing touchdowns in a single season for the second time in his career, Mahomes was the best regular-season player in the NFL in 2022, and the reality is it wasn't especially close.

Offensive Player of the Year: Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders' acquisition of Adams in a blockbuster trade with the Packers did not produce the team results they desired in 2022, but individually his debut season with Las Vegas ranked as one of the finest of his career.

Adams' 14 receiving touchdowns led the NFL and, though his 1,516 receiving yards trailed Justin Jefferson and Tyreek Hill, his combined open percentage across man and zone coverage of 52.18 was superior to both Jefferson and Hill.

With 10 touchdown receptions of 20 yards or more in 2022, Adams was the NFL's most explosive receiving threat in a season where he once again reaffirmed his status as one of the finest route-runners of his generation. The Raiders may want to forget this season in a hurry, but Adams' campaign was one well worth remembering.

Defensive Player of the Year: Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs

This award will almost certainly go to Nick Bosa of the San Francisco 49ers next week, but there's a strong case for Jones as a more impactful defender on a down-to-down basis in 2022.

Indeed, Jones' pass rush win rate of 58 per cent and his run defense win rate of 72.7 per cent outstrip those of Bosa, who finished a season in which he led the NFL in sacks (18.5) with a pass rush win rate of 51.4 per cent and 63.6 per cent run block win rate.

Like his quarterback, Jones shines when the situation is at its most pressurised, with his ability to create pass rush working on the interior and off the edge making him a ceaseless nightmare for opposing offensive lines. If the Chiefs are celebrating under confetti in Arizona next Sunday, Jones will likely have been a big reason why.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers

Sample size be damned! Purdy not only kept the 49ers afloat after Jimmy Garoppolo joined Trey Lance in heading to the sideline with a serious injury, but helped the offense improve as San Francisco won all five of his regular-season starts as part of a 10-game winning streak to end the 17-game campaign.

Albeit undoubtedly aided by the cavalcade of offensive talent at San Francisco's disposal and the play-calling of head coach Kyle Shanahan — Purdy threw to an open target on 84.7 per cent of his attempts — the last pick in the 2022 draft piloted at an offense that was remarkably efficient in expected passing situations.

Purdy averaged 1.2 yards over expected in true passing situations, fifth among quarterbacks with at least 100 such plays.

Other rookies may have played well for a longer period, but in terms of level of influence on his team's performance, no first year offensive player matches Purdy, who unfortunately now faces a long recovery after tearing an elbow ligament on the first offensive series of the Niners' NFC Championship Game loss in Philadelphia.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Sauce Gardner, New York Jets

Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner backed up his ostentatious nickname by quickly establishing himself as one of the league's premier defenders and a lockdown corner at the highest level.

Gardner lost just 19 of his 92 matchups in man coverage and 24 of his 92 in zone. His combined open percentage allowed of 18.8 was bettered by only four defenders across the  entire NFL.

In addition to his remarkably impressive coverage skills, Gardner showed a knack for finding the football in the air, registering a league-leading 20 pass breakups.

If he can improve on his interception tally of two, Gardner will be in the Defensive Player of the Year discussion in the coming years.

Comeback Player of the Year: Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks

From the forgotten man whose hopes of becoming a starter in the NFL looked to be over, to the most accurate quarterback in pro football.

Smith led all quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts with a well-thrown rate of 87.1 per cent, improbably guiding a Seahawks team that appeared to be rebuilding to a playoff berth.

The former New York Jet also had the best passer rating (125.8) on throws of at least 21 air yards among all signal-callers with at least 10 such attempts. Smith threw for 13 touchdowns and one interception on his 52 attempts of that distance.

Smith unexpectedly emerged as the answer at quarterback for the Seahawks in the wake of the Russell Wilson trade. With a better ecosystem around him in 2023, he could be the leading man for a true contender.

Coach of the Year: Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers

Brian Daboll and Doug Pederson deserve a great deal of credit for transforming also-rans into playoff teams in short order, while Nick Sirianni's case is an extremely compelling one after turning the Eagles into the favourite to win the Super Bowl next week.

But for a combination of overcoming adversity and leading a Super Bowl-contending team, no coach can compete with Shanahan.

Shanahan calmly navigated his team through the stormy waters of losing not one by two starting quarterbacks during the regular season, putting Purdy in a position to succeed, with the rookie's readiness and the support he received from the NFL's best defense a testament to the 49er head coach's ability to assemble a top-tier staff.

Winning 13 games, 15 when counting the pair of playoff victories, in the circumstances the 49ers faced on offense is a remarkable achievement. San Francisco finished the season first in overall Efficiency Versus Expected, doing so after being forced to turn to Purdy is a feat worthy of Coach of the Year recognition.

Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs plan to "blank out the hype" ahead of Super Bowl LVII, as the coach prepares to face former team the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Chiefs booked their place at State Farm Stadium in Glendale with a 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday.

With their third conference title in four seasons, they will face their head coach's former employers in Arizona, with Reid having led the Eagles between 1999 and 2012.

Asked whether the emotional connection to his former team makes his work more challenging, Reid insisted his focus is squarely on the task at hand.

"When you really cut to the chase, they're a really good football team," he said. "So I think that's where [my] energy goes.

"That's where the major focus goes. It doesn't matter who you're playing, you try to blank out all the hype that goes with the game. It's a pretty big game for everybody.

"It's a big, big deal. It's the Super Bowl. But you try to blank that out and make sure that you're getting the game plan, [and] what really matters, together."

Reid reached one Super Bowl during his time in charge of the Eagles, though did not get his hands on the Vince Lombardi trophy until 2020 with the Chiefs.

Still, he remains an admirer of the Pennsylvania outfit while stressing he shares the love for his current home as well.

"I love Philadelphia, love the city," he added. "I've been blessed, blessed to be in [these] phenomenal places in the NFL. I'm loving every minute in Kansas City [too]."

Patrick Mahomes "definitely didn't feel good" in the Kansas City Chiefs' AFC Championship Game win, but his performance added to "an already great legacy", according to general manager Brett Veach.

Superstar quarterback Mahomes sustained a high ankle sprain in the Divisional round victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

That sort of injury would generally bring about a spell on the sidelines, but Mahomes was determined he would not miss Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, who had won at Arrowhead Stadium last year to reach the Super Bowl.

While clearly limping in the second half, Mahomes battled through to finish with 29-of-43 passing for 326 yards and two touchdowns in a 23-20 Chiefs success.

Most notably, a painful five-yard run in the final seconds of the game was followed by a shove from Joseph Ossai that prompted a 15-yard penalty to put Harrison Butker in field-goal range to snatch victory.

Mahomes' fellow Chiefs were in awe of his commitment, including GM Veach, who said: "People don't realise how hurt he was.

"We all saw the injury. High ankles are terrible injuries, and sometimes guys miss two, three weeks, and he was out there and running for a first down and a big play in the game that got us in field-goal range.

"But it just adds to an already great legacy."

Mahomes' pain was not in doubt for those watching, but he emphasised afterwards: "I definitely didn't feel good.

"I think the worst one was when I fumbled. I tried to pick it up, and that was probably the worst I tweaked it during the game.

"[The team] got me as close as they could to 100 per cent. Then I just battled through, and I'll have a few more weeks to get it ready [for the Super Bowl]."

Joseph Ossai knows he must learn from a painful experience after he gifted the Kansas City Chiefs the chance to seal their place in Super Bowl LVII.

Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Ossai was hit with a roughing-the-passer penalty for a shove on Patrick Mahomes after the quarterback had run out of bounds right at the end of the AFC Championship Game on Sunday.

A 15-yard penalty allowed Harrison Butker to convert a decisive 45-yard game-goal to snatch a 23-20 win and set up a showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles at State Farm Stadium, Arizona on February 12.

The 22-year-old Ossai was emotional after such a costly late penalty in a rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game and knows he must be more disciplined going forward.

"I gotta learn from experience," Ossai said. "I gotta know not to get close to that quarterback when he's close to that sideline if it's anything that could possibly cause a penalty in a dire situation like that. I gotta do better."

He added: "I was just in full chase mode. I was trying to push him, maybe get him going backwards because I knew he was going for that sideline.

"I was trying to make him go backwards, get that clock running. I haven't seen it yet. I don't know how far out of bounds we were."

DJ Reader backed Ossai to use the hurt he is feeling now to drive him on to better things.

Reader said: "That play is going to find him again. Those roles are going to find him again as a player, and just be ready for it."

He added: "This pain is going to drive him to be great. He'll get there."

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce declared Arrowhead Stadium "Mahomes' house" after finally defeating Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals in Sunday's AFC Championship Game.

There had been plenty of talk in the lead-up about the success Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has enjoyed against the Chiefs, sporting a 3-0 record against Mahomes' crew heading into the contest. It had led to Bengals fans calling the Chiefs' home ground 'Burrowhead', which clearly irked Kansas City players.

Despite playing with a high ankle sprain, Mahomes found a way to get one over the number one overall pick from the 2020 NFL Draft, completing 29 of his 43 passes for 326 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

He also made the game-deciding play when he scrambled on his bad ankle with 15 seconds left in regulation, converting a third-and-four and making it to the sideline to stop the clock. After crossing the sideline, he was hit late by Joseph Ossai, resulting in a 15-yard penalty to put Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker into range for the game-winner.

Burrow put together a respectable stat line, completing 26 of his 41 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown, but he threw two crucial interceptions.

In the immediate aftermath during his on-field interview, Mahomes was interrupted by his future Hall of Fame tight end with a very clear message.

"Burrowhead my a**," he said. "It's Mahomes' house!"

Offensive lineman Orlando Brown Jr also chimed in about Mahomes: "World's greatest! Give him his respect! Stamp him!"

Mahomes was far more under control during his interview, but also referenced his displeasure about the Burrowhead nickname.

"First off I want to thank God, man," he said. "He healed my body this week and gave me the strength to be out here.

"As for this team, man, we play together. I said it from the beginning, when we were in the locker room, I said 'we've got to be together' – and this team stepped up against a great football team.

"We showed this place that it's Arrowhead, it's not 'Burrowhead' out here."

When asked about the Chiefs' impending Super Bowl date against the Philadelphia Eagles, Mahomes gave plenty of respect to the NFC Champions.

"They're a great football team, I've watched them all year long," he said. "Great quarterback, and a great entire team. It's going to be a great challenge for us, but I'm going to celebrate this one first.

"I'm going to get back with my team – I don't think we have any cigars – but we'll be ready to go at the Super Bowl."

A limping Patrick Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs to Super Bowl LVII with a 23-20 defeat of the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game.

Mahomes had sustained a high ankle sprain in the Divisional round victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars but was determined not to miss the opportunity to gain revenge following last year's loss against the Bengals at the same stage.

In that reverse, Mahomes followed an outstanding first half with an uncharacteristically shambolic second that cost the Chiefs.

However, on Sunday, as the game wore on and the temperature dropped, Mahomes showed signs of his injury affecting him but refused to relent, finishing with 29-of-43 passing for 326 yards and two touchdowns, along with a vital late run.

Mahomes was largely able to stay clean in the first half while Joe Burrow took some punishment, but the Chiefs' sole TD pass found Travis Kelce on fourth-and-one.

Memories of last year's loss might have come to mind as the Bengals came out stronger in the third quarter and Tee Higgins sensationally reeled in a pinpoint Burrow TD pass down the sideline.

A hobbling Mahomes battled on and connected with Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a scrambling score, only for Burrow to find Ja'Marr Chase deep on fourth-and-six to set up Samaje Perine to run it in.

With the scores tied, both QBs struggled to get the job done as overtime neared, but Chris Jones sacked Burrow to force a Bengals punt, with Skyy Moore's 27-yard return keeping the Chiefs alive.

When Mahomes – understandably reluctant to run the ball until that stage – made up five yards and was shoved by Joseph Ossai after running out of bounds, a 15-yard penalty left Harrison Butker with the 45-yard game-winning field goal to set up a Super Bowl meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Kelce keeping fine company

Restricted by his injury, Mahomes needed help from his receivers and got it. He completed passes to 10 team-mates, but Kelce was unsurprisingly his primary target, completing seven of nine attempts for a TD.

That was Kelce's 15th receiving TD in the postseason, drawing him level with fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski and now trailing only wide receiver Jerry Rice (22) for all-time postseason scores.

Burrow takes a beating

This was the first time Burrow had lost to Mahomes, with the Chiefs clearly irked by talk of the Bengals QB's dominance in this matchup. The Chiefs got to Burrow time and again early on, with four sacks before halftime.

Coming into the game, Burrow was 14-1 this season when sacked four times or fewer but 0-3 when sacked five times or more. That fifth and final sack from Jones proved so pivotal.

This year's NFL conference championships have provided a fascinating line-up of potential Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks.

In the AFC Championship Game, Patrick Mahomes is hosting Joe Burrow in a repeat of last year's matchup, with both men having already been to the big game.

Meanwhile, in the NFC, Jalen Hurts and Brock Purdy have each played just two postseason games, green enough both to provoke excitement and concern in equal measure.

Three of these QBs were confirmed as MVP candidates this week, with Purdy the obvious exception as 'Mr Irrelevant', enjoying a fairytale story that would surpass just about any other.

So, which of the four is best placed heading into this weekend, and who can expect to be playing in Arizona in two weeks' time?

Brock Purdy, 49ers @ Eagles

It is safe to say Purdy did not expect to be playing in this game when he was selected with the final pick of the 2022 draft.

Injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo have catapulted the rookie into the spotlight, and he has not disappointed, winning his first seven starts to extend the 49ers' streak to 12 straight victories – a team's longest sequence entering a conference championship since the undefeated New England Patriots in 2007.

Purdy, at 22, will become the youngest QB to start a game at this stage of the season since Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, while he is only the fourth to do so having started five or fewer regular season games.

But given this inexperience, Purdy is the one remaining QB who likely will not be handed complete control of the offense, instead asked simply to consistently put the ball in the hands of the 49ers' outstanding skill players.

Christian McCaffrey, like Purdy, has won every start since joining the 49ers in a mid-season trade from the Carolina Panthers, scoring an offensive touchdown in each of his past eight – one shy of both Ezekiel Elliott's 2022-best streak of nine.

Since his first start, McCaffrey ranks third in the NFL for offensive touches (234); since Purdy's first start, he ranks first (136).

Even with McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel each highly effective targets through the air, the 49ers have shifted their focus to the run game with Purdy under center.

They have run the ball on 50.1 per cent of plays since Purdy's first start, the fifth-highest rate in the NFL and the highest of any team who made the playoffs. Prior to Week 14, that figure was 43.2 per cent.

It is unlikely the 49ers move away from that now against an elite defense that leads the league by a considerable margin in sacks (75), sack yards (517) and sack rate (10.7 per cent).

Purdy may need McCaffrey and Co. to carry him through this round, but a Super Bowl appearance would only encourage those Tom Brady 2001 comparisons.

Jalen Hurts, Eagles vs 49ers

Hurts' appearance on this stage is clearly not as surprising as Purdy's, but few could have foreseen the Eagles QB as the Goliath to his opponent's David back when the season began.

The third-year star has delivered on his potential in 2022.

Hurts' ability to run with the ball was never in question, and this year his 14 rushing TDs rank third among all players, with Josh Allen his nearest rival at QB on a comparatively meagre eight.

But there has crucially been progress in the passing game as Hurts posted career-best marks by just about every metric in the regular season – 66.5 completion percentage, 3,701 passing yards, 22 passing TDs, 1.3 interception percentage and a passer rating of 101.5.

Last week, in the Eagles' playoff opener against the New York Giants, he threw two TD passes and zero picks for a rating of 112.2.

Having missed two games and two Eagles defeats, Hurts heads into the NFC Championship Game with a 15-1 record as a starter this year, no doubt confident of improving that mark further against the 49ers.

In an intriguing battle that pits the league's best run offense (47.0 per cent success rate) versus its second-best run defense (32.1 per cent), Hurts can provide the X-factor.

The 49ers have shown few signs of weakness this year but did so against Marcus Mariota, another running QB, whose Atlanta Falcons ran the ball on 69.6 per cent of plays in Week 6 and were successful 43.6 per cent of the time.

The Eagles will have been watching the tape from that matchup to give Hurts the best possible chance to find joy against an otherwise fearsome defense.

Joe Burrow, Bengals @ Chiefs

Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton dubbed the Chiefs' home stadium, so terrifying for so many visiting teams, "Burrowhead" as Cincinnati prepared for their return in the AFC Championship Game.

Burrow went into Arrowhead last year and got the better of Mahomes, leading the Bengals to a third conference championship win in three attempts all-time.

Although the Los Angeles Rams then defeated the Bengals in the Super Bowl, Burrow has continued to show himself to be the man for the big occasion, taking down the much-fancied Buffalo Bills last week.

He has won five of his first six playoff starts, with only Brady (7-0), Russell Wilson (6-1) and Mahomes (6-1) winning six of their first seven since 1995.

So calm and composed, Burrow is an outstanding passer, ranking second in the league with his 68.2 completion percentage this year and third with his 85.9 well-thrown percentage.

His problem has long been a lack of protection from the Bengals' offensive line, with Burrow taking a league-leading 148 sacks since his debut season in 2020 – a campaign that was cut short by ACL and MCL tears sustained in one hit.

But Burrow took just one sack against the Bills, and the Bengals are consistently doing a better job in giving their QB time to make the pass – albeit with his help.

The Bengals have allowed a pressure rate of just 32.4 per cent this year, the fourth-best in the NFL, as Burrow has taken just 2.46 seconds to release the ball, the fifth-fastest average among QBs with 100 attempts.

It is Burrow's ability to work this quickly while maintaining a league-low pickable pass percentage of 1.53 that cuts him out as a star capable of again going to Kansas City and withstanding all they throw at him.

Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs vs Bengals

Mahomes is the one man who cannot be planned for. If he is on his game, there is surely no stopping the Chiefs superstar.

Happily for the Bengals, he was a long way from the Mahomes everyone knows in the second half of last year's AFC Championship Game, and his hopes of performing at peak level will be limited by injury this week.

A high ankle sprain would rule out just about any other QB, but Mahomes, no doubt determined to put right what went so wrong last year, is set to play.

Mahomes completed only eight of 18 passes after halftime in the Chiefs' 2021 defeat, throwing two interceptions for a remarkable passer rating of 12.3.

That was the sixth-lowest rating in the second half of a playoff game this century – not the sort of company the best QB in football is used to keeping.

But that passer rating in the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, when Mahomes was playing with an injury, was up at 110.7.

Even as he hobbled around the field, Mahomes was able to finish a fourth postseason game with a completion percentage above 70.0 (72.3) and multiple TD passes.

Only four players – Brady (six), Drew Brees (six), Troy Aikman (five) and Joe Montana (five) – have had more such performances. Mahomes has played just 12 playoff games in his career.

If that is the sort of form the Bengals can expect to find Mahomes in this week, with revenge on his mind, all the focus on that ankle might count for very little.

Cincinnati Bengals tight end Hayden Hurst has been cleared to play in Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs after overcoming a calf injury.

Hurst had been limited at Bengals practice on Thursday but was a full participant on Friday before not being listed in their injury report.

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor indicated Hurst was available, having been limited for precautionary reasons. Hurst had missed three games with a right calf injury which he tweaked in Week 13 against the Chiefs.

"I thought he had a good practice today," Taylor told reporters on Friday.

The Bengals tight end had 52 receptions for 414 yards for two touchdowns during the regular season, adding nine receptions for 104 yards and one TD in their two playoffs games.

"He brings a lot of energy, always knows what he's doing, brings physicality, reliable in the pass game," Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said on Thursday.

"Just a trustworthy, reliable, explosive player. Love to have him."

The Kansas City Chiefs will have Patrick Mahomes under center for Sunday’s AFC Championship game – not that there has been much doubt this week.

Despite suffering a high ankle sprain in last weekend's 27-20 Divisional-round win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Mahomes was able to practice three times this week and declared "I'm ready to go” on Wednesday.

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has confirmed that Mahomes would play in the AFC title game for the fifth year in a row on Sunday when the Chiefs host the Cincinnati Bengals.

"He looks good," Reid said on Friday. "I mean, he's moving around good. He's going to go out and play."

After Mahomes said on Wednesday that he would be fit, the quarterback began fielding questions about how much a sprained ankle might change his effectiveness or style of play.

"I feel like I can still do a lot of things," he said. "We'll see as we get closer and closer, and we'll see during the game.

"You can't fully do exactly what you're going to be doing in those moments in the game [in practice], but all I can do is prepare myself the best way possible and then when we get in the game, you hope adrenaline kind of takes over."

Mahomes returned to last Saturday’s game to help lead the Chiefs over the Jaguars, but he was clearly limping and was unable to pull off some of his signature improvisation due to his injury.

After a week of rehabilitation, neither Mahomes nor Reid are willing to say publicly if the 2018 NFL MVP will be able to run the entire playbook.

"We have enough in the game plan where you can kind of pick and choose where you want to go with it," he said. "You have a variety of things that you can go to. Obviously, you don't use all the plays in the game plan, but they're available and so if you have to go a certain direction, you can go that direction with the calls."

Meanwhile, the Bengals are not expecting Mahomes to be any less potent.

Cincinnati pass rusher Sam Hubbard said: "We're preparing for Patrick Mahomes like he's 100 per cent, because I'm sure he's going to be playing 100 per cent. That's all you can do."

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