Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes overcame an ankle injury to lead the Chiefs to victory
Venue: State Farm Stadium, Glendale Date: Sunday, 12 February Start: 23:30 GMT
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Both top seeds in the NFL play-offs booked their places in the Conference Championships as the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Philadelphia Eagles dominated the New York Giants.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes battled through an ankle injury to beat the Jags 27-20 and earn a fifth straight AFC Championship appearance.

The Eagles will host the NFC title game after they dominated divisional rivals New York from start to finish in a 38-7 success.

As the Chiefs continue to establish themselves as the next big winning dynasty in the league, they became just the third team to reach five straight championship games but will be left sweating on Mahomes’ ankle in the build-up.

Mahomes limped out in the first quarter but returned to battle through the second half despite obvious discomfort as he threw two touchdowns to see off a stubborn Jaguars side.

A late Trevor Lawrence interception ended Jacksonville’s chances as the Chiefs set up a game against either the Cincinnati Bengals or Buffalo Bills.

The Bengals and Bills meet on Sunday night and the Chiefs will host Cincinnati at Arrowhead Stadium if they progress, while a Buffalo victory will mean a neutral venue in Atlanta being used to stage the AFC Championship between the two.

Tight end Travis Kelce had a huge game for Kansas City, catching two touchdown passes, one from Mahomes and one from his back-up Chad Henne, who impressively came in and led the team to a record touchdown drive.

The Jaguars had the league’s worst record last year, but matched this year’s AFC top seeds for most of the contest, with Lawrence hitting Christian Kirk to level the game at 7-7 in the first quarter, before Travis Etienne’s fourth-quarter score made it 20-17.

Jacksonville had produced the greatest play-off comeback in history last week, so could never be counted out, which may have led to Chiefs head coach Andy Reid allowing Mahomes to play on through the pain despite hobbling around and being unable to produce his usual scrambling.

Even with one leg though, Mahomes was able to lead the Chiefs on a 75-yard drive in the fourth quarter before throwing a trademark unorthodox TD pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling that effectively sealed the contest.

Travis Kelce
Travis Kelce had 14 catches against the Jaguars – an NFL play-off record by a tight end

Henne shines after Mahomes injury scare

Mahomes set a new single-season NFL record for offensive yards this season with 5,614 passing, rushing and even a few receiving yards, and also led the league with 41 passing touchdowns in a campaign that could well earn him a second Most Valuable Player award.

And the 27-year-old started the game like an MVP, leading a near-perfect opening drive of 83 yards and 12 plays containing some highlight reel throws and culminating in a 13th touchdown catch of the season for Kelce.

After the Jaguars levelled, Mahomes was marching again before potential disaster struck when Jaguars defender Arden Key fell on the Chiefs quarterback’s ankle causing a nasty-looking injury that had him limping off to the sideline.

Mahomes tried to continue but had to sit out the rest of the half, leaving veteran back-up Henne, 37, to come in at a crucial stage, with the Chiefs back up on their own goal line and his first play of the game being a throw out of his own end zone.

However, the former Jaguars starter went on to pick up where Mahomes left off, leading the hosts almost the full length of the field before again finding Kelce for the tight end’s 14th score of another superb season.

That 98-yard drive is a play-off record for the Chiefs, and also gives them hope that they can survive without Mahomes if they need to, and there will be that worry given how serious his ankle injury looked.

A lot of the build-up now to Kansas City’s fifth straight AFC Championship game will be about the health of Mahomes’ ankle – he said post-match that he would be fit for the next game – as they prepare to either host the Bengals or head off to Atlanta to play the Bills.

All too easy for dominant Eagles

A slight stumble to the end of the season and an injured shoulder for QB Jalen Hurts meant the Eagles had questions to answer as they took on the Giants – but they responded to every one of them emphatically.

The home side dominated every facet of the game during their 38-7 victory over the Giants to ensure they will host the NFC Championship game next week.

Hurts threw touchdown passes to Dallas Goedert and DeVonta Smith, and ran one in himself to go along with rushing scores for Matt Breida and Kenneth Gainwell.

Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles dominated from start to finish against the Giants

The Eagles ran the ball with purpose and menace, piling up 268 rushing yards, and on defence they harried Daniel Jones all night, sacking him five times in what was a complete performance.

The Giants were so impressive as they beat Minnesota for their first play-off win in 11 years last week, but they were no match for Philadelphia this time as their promising and surprising season finally came to an end.

Head coach Nick Siriani and his Philadelphia team can now sit back and watch Sunday’s game in San Francisco knowing they will host the winner of the Cowboys v 49ers for a place in the Super Bowl.





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