As a regular, Kansas City, which won the title in 2019 at the expense of San Francisco, before giving it up to Tampa Bay in the final the following year, will therefore play its third "SB" in four years.
And it didn't take much for Cincinnati, who had eliminated the team from Missouri, at this same stage of the American conference final, to repeat the same performance.
Exactly three seconds: the time for Harrison Butker to send the ball between the bars with his boot, just before the siren sounded which sent the two teams into overtime.
Enough to deliver the fans present at Arrowhead Stadium, after a very tight and indecisive meeting.
An epilogue made possible, thanks to a decisive run by Patrick Mahomes, to bring Butker close enough to the poles, at 45 yards all the same.
But the quarterback, who held his place well, a week after being the victim of a sprained right ankle against Jacksonville, was in pain because the pain woke up in the second half.
Revenge of Mahomes
Previously, the Chiefs star had shone with his throws, finding Travis Kelce for the first touchdown (13-3).
He then alerted Marquez Valdes-Scantling to regain the lead (20-13).
Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals, from behind, and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs after their conference final, January 29, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri © Kevin C. Cox / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
His rival Joe Burrow was manhandled in the first act, receiving no less than four sacks (tackles).
But he showed pride to revive himself and his team with him, first finding Tee Wiggins on touchdown, on a 27-yard pass (13-13), then Ja'Marr Chase for 35 yards gained, preamble to a touchdown on the run from Samaje Perine (20-20).
We were then playing the beginning of the last quarter, and Burrow seemed to have taken the upper hand in his duel with Mahomes, as in their first three confrontations from which he had emerged victorious each time.
But it was without counting on the defense of the Chiefs, who knew how to tighten the noose on him, with a new interception then another sack.
With 41 seconds to play, Skyy Moore then managed a comeback from 29 yards on the dismissal at the foot of the Bengals and Mahomes to find inspiration for the result that we know.
The latter will have to take advantage of the two weeks to come before the Super Bowl to prepare well against the defense of Philadelphia, ruthless against the two quarterbacks of the 49ers, who were injured in the National Conference final.
The Eagles, who will play the 4th Super Bowl in their history, hoping to add a second title after that of 2017, have indeed never trembled against San Francisco, which was however the third attempt in four years on the penultimate step.
Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles faces Dre Greenlaw of the San Francisco 49ers in the conference finals on January 29, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania © Tim Nwachukwu / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
"I dreamed about it, and all the guys on this team have dreamed about it all their lives," coach Nick Sirianni said afterwards.
“To be able to do this with a group of men who love each other, who are connected to each other and who would do anything for each other, it is quite tasty”.
His team, under the eyes of the American First Lady Jill Biden, made all four touchdowns on the run.
Miles Sanders scored twice and Boston Scott took charge of the third just before the break (21-7).
And his defense hurt.
Rookie Brock Purdy suffered a tackle on his first possession which injured his right arm.
And his replacement Josh Johnson also had to go out, after falling heavily on the back of the helmet after a shock.
The latter had meanwhile dropped the ball, causing the third touchdown for the Eagles.
The only Californian thinning appeared in the 2nd quarter, thanks to the talented Christian McCaffrey, who managed to play the eel in the middle of the big arms to the end zone (7-7).
In the second half, Philly hit the nail on the head with a fourth touchdown from "QB" Jalen Hurts, charging into the crowd for a yard to nibble on.
© 2023 AFP