Just one week after winning their first playoff game of the 21st century, the Cincinnati Bengals took down the top team in the AFC, the Tennessee Titans. The low scoring game ended with Bengals’ rookie kicker Evan McPherson sinking a 52-yard field goal as time expired to give the Bengals a 19-16 win. Safety Michael Thomas ’13 played the majority of special teams snaps for Cincinnati in the win. Thomas, wide receiver Trenton Irwin ’19 and the rest of the Bengals will head to the franchise’s first conference championship game since 1989.
With the Titans loss came the end of the season for Kevin Hogan ’16. The quarterback spent the majority of the season on the practice squad but made an appearance in the Titans’ Week 12 loss to the Patriots.
At the time of kickoff for the Packers vs. 49ers game, the temperature was in the single digits. In a game where both teams were battling the elements, the San Francisco came out on top 13-10 thanks to a late special teams touchdown and game winning field goal by kicker Robbie Gould. The 49ers’ victory extends the seasons of linebacker Curtis Robinson ’21 and wide receiver Conor Wedington ’21. The two rookies will move on to the NFC Championship game as San Francisco appears in the game for its second time in the last three seasons. This result also marks the end of the season for the Packers and linebacker Peter Kalambayi ’17, who has been on Green Bay’s practice squad this year.
The second NFC Divisional game featured the Los Angeles Rams traveling to Tampa Bay to take on cornerback Richard Sherman ’11 and the rest of the Buccaneers. The Rams jumped out to a 27-3 lead, but the Buccaneers mounted an impressive comeback to tie the game at 27. However, Rams’ quarterback Matthew Stafford connected with wide receiver Cooper Kupp with under a minute left to set up a game winning field goal. The Rams’ 30-27 victory marked the end of Tampa’s season. Sherman finished the year with 11 total tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery in only five appearances.
The divisional round came to a close with an electrifying matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills. This game featured two of the game’s best young quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen, and neither disappointed. The two teams combined for 25 points in the final 1:54 of gametime, including the Chiefs’ game tying drive that began with 13 seconds on the clock. The game went to overtime, and the Chiefs ultimately came out on top 42-36. Defensive tackle Harrison Phillips ’18 was the only former Cardinal to appear in the statsheet in this game. He recorded four tackles — three of which were solo — for the Bills in their loss.
The two conference championship games will both be played next Sunday. Thomas and the Bengals will take the field in the AFC Championship at 12:05 p.m., and the NFC Championship will kick off at 3:40 p.m.