NFL | Jan 30, 2024

2024 NFL Conference Championship Round Recap

By Harry Bazley

USATSI 22394437

Super Bowl LVIII has officially been set with the results of the Conference Championship weekend. From the Lions v Niners showdown, to the Chiefs v Ravens clash there were plenty of highlight reel moments and some things we'd rather leave in the past. Today, we'll be breaking down the ins and outs of each of the matchups. So, let's get into it.

Chiefs 17 - 10 Ravens

Well, I said it last week, and I guess I have to say it again... Playoff Mahomes is lethal.

I know 17 points doesn’t seem like much, but facing the Ravens triple crown defense - who led the league in sacks, turnovers and points allowed - No.15 got the job done. He went 30-39 for 241 yards and 1 touchdown, but by far the most important factor, is the zero interceptions thrown.

Against the Ravens elite run stopping unit, it was a slow day for Pacheco with just 68 yards on 24 carries. So who did Mahomes turn to? You guessed it. None other than Travis Kelce, who now holds the all time record for playoff receptions.

The Chiefs tight end logged 11 receptions on 11 targets for 116 yards and a touchdown to lead KC to their 4th Super Bowl in the last 5 years. This QB-TE connection is starting to rival the era of Brady and Gronkowski.

And the other side of the ball was no joke either. Up against Lamar Jackson - who could soon be crowned this year’s MVP - the Chief’s defense allowed just one touchdown, while also forcing 3 turnovers.

Jackson was one of the two fumblers on the night, but this was perhaps the biggest turning point in the game. Zay flowers had the best performance of all ravens pass catchers, he just got seriously unlucky on this one.

Besides these momentum shifting moments, the real key to this matchup was getting Chris Jones & Co. into Baltimmore’s backfield.

Under relentless pocket pressure, Jackson completed less than 55% of his passes, was sacked 4 times, fumbled once, had errant throws on multiple occasions and made a crucial mistake with the game on the line.

Yet he still managed to produce some of his usual highlight plays.

Not only did he complete a pass to himself on one occasion, but we also witnessed the iconic scramble drill he’s made so famous over the years.

But when it was all said and done, No.8 simply couldn’t do enough to catch the Chiefs, despite the defense holding them to 0 points in the whole of the second half. If we learned one thing, it’s that the Mahomes-Kelce connection still reigns supreme.

Lions 31 - 34 49ers

It’s officially time for the Brock Purdy hate to come to an end.

When the odds were stacked against him, trailing by 17 heading into the break, the former Mr. Irrelevant made play after play to tie the biggest Conference round comeback in Niners history - scoring 27 points unanswered.

Sure, we can talk about McCaffrey having 132 yards and two touchdowns, but first, let’s bear in mind what No.13 did to give him those shots at the end zone. Purdy is far from a ‘game manager’ or a ‘system quarterback’.

The final pick in the 2022 draft is now a starting Super Bowl quarterback in just 2 years, with back-to-back Conference Championship appearances to his name. Not to mention, he’s never lost a single playoff game that he has started and finished. This is quickly becoming one of the greatest NFL stories of all time.

In other news, we all know that Dan Campbell is the most aggressive play caller in the league, but last night, he may have taken it too far…

His playstyle is certainly a huge part of what took Detroit to such a successful season, but when it came down to the wire, Campbell’s fourth-down optimism turned out to be a huge factor in the loss.

On two separate occasions in the second half, Campbell decided to go for it on fourth despite being well-within field goal range, and the 9ers got the stops. If he’d have attempted the kicks, one would have regained a 17-point lead and the other would have tied things up with 7 minutes left. All else being equal, converting both would have secured the win. So, in what ended up as a 3-point loss, it’s tough to not criticise those calls.

Now, with that being said, he deserves plenty of credit for turning this team around…

Campbell has given Jared Goff a new home for the future, he pulled off one of the most impressive drafts in recent years and he took the Lions as close as they’ve been to the Super Bowl in over three decades. But now, it could be Borck Purdy’s time to etch his name in the history books…

Up Next: Super Bowl LVIII

A Super Bowl LIV rematch is officially on the cards as the 49ers and Chiefs will face off in Las Vegas on February 11th. This time we’ve got one for the ages, as Mr Irrelevant takes on the most prolific quarterback of this generation. Will it be a fairy tale story for Brock Purdy? Or will Mahomes & Co. continue to build their dynasty?

Check in later this week for our preview breakdown of the big game.

(Header Image Credit: Geoff Burke - USA TODAY Sports)