Tom Brady has officially announced his retirement from the NFL.

Tom Brady said on Monday he has yet to decide whether or not he will retire from the NFL before next season.

It was reported by ESPN on Saturday that the record seven-time Super Bowl champion would bow out of the game after 22 seasons, although his agent, Don Yee, later insisted that nothing was certain until Brady himself made an announcement.

Rumours emerged prior to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Divisional Round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams that the 44-year-old was non-committal about playing beyond the 2021 season.

The New England Patriots great previously expressed a desire to play to age 45 and was open to the idea of continuing until he turned 50, although he admitted after the defeat to the Rams that his family had become a priority when it came to his future plans.

Brady has now made it clear that he will not rush into any decision as he considers his next move.

"I'm still going through the process that I said I was going through," Brady said on the Let's Go! podcast. "Sometimes it takes some time to really evaluate how you feel, what you want to do and I think when the time is right I'll be ready to make a decision one way or the other.

"It's always a good line that I'm responsible for what I say and do, and not responsible for what others say or do. I think one thing I've learned about sports is that you control what you can control, and what you can't, you leave to others.

"We're in such an era of information and people want to be in front of the news often and I totally understand that. I understand that's the environment we're in. But I think for me, it's literally day-to-day with me. I'm just trying to do the best I can every day, evaluate things as they come, and I'm trying to make a great decision for me and my family.

"Like I've always said, I'm very blessed to play as long as I have. As things have gone on in the later parts of my career, whether that was five years ago or even this year, there's a lot of interest in when I'm going to stop playing. I understand that. It's not that I don't recognise that. When I know, I'll know. When I don't know, I don't know. I'm not going to race to some conclusion about that."

It was put to Brady that the reports around his supposed retirement could rekindle a desire to keep playing in 2022, but he said: "I think my motivation for playing football is to win and be successful and maybe there's little parts of motivation that comes from different places or what people may say or think, but I'm mostly motivated from inside and wanting to be the best for my team-mates and my coaches and my organisations.

"That's kind of where my motivation has been for a long time."

Tom Brady may or may not retire. Despite the backlash at seemingly premature reports of the end of his career, there is a strong chance the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be looking to replace the greatest of all time this offseason.

The Buccaneers do have an in-house option but, if head coach Bruce Arians stays on board as expected, it is likely he will want a quarterback who can help an extremely talented team, albeit one that could lose some of that talent in free agency, contend for further Super Bowls.

So who could be in line to take the reins under center from Brady?

Stats Perform looks at the young gun who may have the substantial challenge of stepping into Brady's shoes and, with free agent options thin on the ground, three players they could target in a trade to run the offense.

 

Kyle Trask

The Buccaneers selected Trask, a Heisman Trophy finalist in his final year at Florida in 2020, in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Tampa Bay probably would have liked him to have another year of seasoning before throwing him in at the deep end, but they may now have to consider whether he is ready to make the leap to the starting role in the pros.

Trask led the FBS in passing touchdowns with 43 in his final season with the Gators and, though there should be cause for concern over an elongated throwing motion and his decision-making, his play under pressure in college in 2020 was encouraging.

Indeed, Trask delivered a well-thrown ball on 74.56 of his pass attempts when under pressure – only three Power 5 quarterbacks (min. 50 attempts under pressure) fared better.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Garoppolo is almost certain to be on the trade market after he crumbled in the fourth quarter of the San Francisco 49ers' NFC Championship Game defeat to the Los Angeles Rams. 

With Trey Lance waiting in the wings, the Niners will likely look to recoup what they can for a quarterback who helped them reach Super Bowl LIV in the 2019 season.

Despite his 31-14 record in the regular season with the 49ers, the Buccaneers may be reticent to strike a deal for a quarterback whose skill set would not appear to mesh well with Arians' aggressive downfield passing attack.

Garoppolo averaged just 7.51 air yards per attempt in 2021, the eighth-fewest among quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts.

Russell Wilson

If you want downfield aggressiveness, look no further than Wilson.

Only Justin Fields (10.02) averaged more air yards per attempt than Wilson (10) in 2021, while another rookie, Davis Mills (114.6) was the sole quarterback to have a higher passer rating on attempts of 21 air yards or more (114.0) among signal-callers with at least 25 attempts of that distance.

The stylistic fit is obvious, and the Buccaneers critically have the offensive line to satisfy Wilson's main issue with the Seattle Seahawks, a lack of pass protection.

But, with an aging core, it is debatable at best whether the Bucs would consider mortgaging their future in a blockbuster trade for Wilson, and it's still not clear whether Seattle would even come to the table.

Aaron Rodgers

The potential biggest prize out there on the trade market seems like the largest long shot for the Bucs.

Rodgers would no doubt be able to adapt to Arians' offense and, if the Bucs keep hold of Chris Godwin, he would be thrilled with the receiving corps he would have at his disposal.

Yet there are signs of an improving relationship between Rodgers and the Packers' brass and perhaps a willingness to give it another go even after this season's playoff failure.

If Rodgers does decide he wants to go elsewhere, the Denver Broncos would be the favourites to land him having hired former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as their new head coach. The Bucs may have to give it the hard sell to land Rodgers.

Tyrann Mathieu is hopeful he can re-sign with the Kansas City Chiefs following their agonising AFC Championship defeat by the Cincinnati Bengals.

The safety is now a free agent following the expiration of his contract after three years at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs were denied a third successive Super Bowl appearance on Sunday after suffering a 27-24 overtime defeat against the Bengals, despite leading 21-3 during the second quarter.

That signalled the end of Mathieu's stint in Missouri, where both parties failed to agree on extending his contract ahead of the 2021 season.

Despite the disappointment, the 29-year-old applauded the efforts of his team-mates and hopes a deal for him to remain with the franchise can be struck.

"I hope so," he said. "Ever since I came here, I just try to be the right kind of team-mate; I try to play my part. 

"It's always that feeling that you could make more plays for your team, but I'm hoping it works out. I don't have any control over that. 

"I feel like everything that is within my control – I tried my best to handle it and do it with a smile. I love this team; I love this locker room. There are a lot of coaches I have great relationships with. I am hoping.

"We still feel like we are the best team in the NFL. The best team doesn't always win; it's the team that plays well and makes the plays that day. 

"I am just extremely proud to come to work with these guys."

It's not how you start, it's how you finish. The old adage rang true for the victorious defenses on Conference Championship weekend.

A stunning upset pulled off by the Cincinnati Bengals appeared extremely unlikely when they fell 21-3 behind to the Kansas City Chiefs.

But the Chiefs scored just three points across the second half and overtime, with Patrick Mahomes intercepted twice as the Bengals fought back to claim an improbable 27-24 win.

Similarly, the Los Angeles Rams looked to be on the ropes at 17-7 down to the San Francisco 49ers when Jimmy Garoppolo hit George Kittle for a 16-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.

Yet the Rams outscored the Niners 13-0 in the fourth, Garoppolo and the San Francisco attack collapsing when the pressure was at its highest.

So how did both the Bengals and the Rams stymie their opponents when it mattered most and punch their tickets to Super Bowl LVI?

The name's Hubbard, Sam Hubbard

Arguably as important to stopping Mahomes through the air was the move the Bengals made to prevent him from doing damage with his legs.

The Bengals deployed defensive end Sam Hubbard as a de-facto spy of Mahomes, protecting against him rolling out and making throws on the move, as he did twice for touchdowns in the first half, or picking up yardage on the ground.

That meant relying on their coverage to hold up while sending only three-man rushes up front. The Bengals rushed three on 23.9 per cent of their defensive snaps, and the results speak for themselves.

Mahomes attempted just six passes on the move and had five scrambles for an average of just one yard per carry. In other words, when there was not a clear option for Mahomes when operating from the pocket, the possibility to escape and extend the play was taken away.

Travis Kelce had 10 catches for 95 yards and a touchdown while Tyreek Hill registered seven catches for 78 yards and a score. However, Hill did not have a catch after the first half and Kelce only had one across that second half and overtime that went for double-digit yardage, the Bengals' ploy of sporadically bracketing both working perfectly.

The combination of Hubbard's deployment in an unfamiliar role and the attention paid to both Kelce and Hill led to the sight of a quarterback who was unstoppable in the Divisional Round running backwards as the pocket collapsed in a vain effort to produce explosive plays that were not there.

Mahomes had done an excellent job down the stretch of the regular season and in the playoffs of being patient and taking what the defense gave him. In the second half against Cincinnati, the Bengals afforded him no options, and that patience ran out.

Rams give no room to run

The Rams did not need to lure Garoppolo into the bad decision, as Los Angeles knew that, with enough pressure on the much-maligned 49ers quarterback, a mistake is always on the horizon.

Los Angeles only pressured Garoppolo 12 times, but the pass rush came at the ideal time in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter as Aaron Donald and Co. took advantage of a banged-up offensive line when it mattered most.

The level of joy the Rams enjoyed late on was in part a result of their success in defending the run.

With the scoreboard turning rapidly in Los Angeles' favour, San Francisco became one-dimensional having been consistently stymied by the Rams' run defense.

The often dominant 49ers running game was held to 2.5 yards per carry, putting the emphasis on Garoppolo and his O-Line to deliver.

Niners tight end Kittle explained San Francisco's struggles running the ball were down to the Rams employing a new wrinkle in blitzing the A and B gaps when the 49ers went in motion, leading to stacked boxes.

As Kittle put it: "It's hard to run the ball when there are nine guys in the box."

After erasing the Niners' 10-point lead, the Rams' defense could go in attack mode with the ground game shut down and no reason to fear the opposing quarterback.

Given the struggles of the Bengals' offensive line, a similar approach could well be used in the Super Bowl.

The Los Angeles Rams are relishing their opportunity to host the Super Bowl after seeing off the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.

A 20-17 triumph over NFC West rivals the Niners means it is the Rams who will face the Cincinnati Bengals with NFL glory on the line at SoFi Stadium on February 13.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year became the first team to play in a Super Bowl at their home stadium and went one step further by winning the Vince Lombardi Trophy against the Kansas City Chiefs.

And the Rams now have an opportunity emulate the Bucs after reaching their second Super Bowl in the space of four years, with this one on home soil.

"To be able to play at home in this house that Stan Kroenke built, this iconic venue, is really unique," McVay said, per ESPN, after the win over the Niners. 

"A little bit easier travel schedule for us since we travelled all over the country during the course of the year.  Just so happy with this group and proud to be associated with it.

"We always talk about being totally and completely present, having a short memory for good and bad. Being able to hit that reset button. I thought our guys did that in a big way."

Matthew Stafford led a Rams comeback from 17-7 down. He completed 31 of 45 passes for 337 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Having gone 12 years without a postseason win as a member of the Detroit Lions, the quarterback now has three straight playoff victories and the chance to match the history made by Tom Brady if he wins a fourth.

"It's great that it's here," Stafford said about the home Super Bowl. "If we were playing in it, I didn't give a hell where it was. I'm like, I just want to play in the dang thing. 

"But the fact that it's under this roof, it's going to be awesome. 

"Our fans did an unbelievable job making it a tough environment. And it's nice to send some of those red jerseys home."

Star wide receiver Cooper Kupp caught both Stafford TD passes in a fine display that saw him make 11 catches for 142 yards.

Odell Beckham Jr (nine catches for 113) was another standout performer and like Stafford he will also play in his first Super Bowl.

"Everything about this place is right, and it's done right," Beckham, who joined in a mid-season trade from the Cleveland Browns, said. 

"It's just been an incredible opportunity that I feel like I'm just trying to make the most of. Here we are playing in the Super Bowl, one game away from our dreams. Just keep going."

McVay was effusive in his praise of Stafford after the game and Beckham was similarly complimentary.

"Everything that you could hope and wish for," Beckham said about Stafford.

"He had that look in his eyes the whole game. He motivated us, he pushed us, one play at a time, and he drove us down. 

"He's just been doing that all postseason, all season really, since I've been here, he's just had that look on him. Just happy that we could get him to this point.

"I know it was tough for Detroit for a lot of those years. He is having an amazing opportunity and is just gonna take full advantage of it."

The Rams have one Super Bowl title in franchise history, which came in 1999 when they represented the city of St Louis, and three NFL championships overall.

Cincinnati will be making their third appearance in the big dance and are seeking their first title.

Aaron Donald was hailed by his Los Angeles Rams teammates after they overcame a 10-point deficit to beat the San Francisco 49ers.

The three-time Defensive Player of the Year gave an emotional speech on the sideline as the Rams trailed 17-7 in the NFC Championship Game.

Los Angeles subsequently rallied for a 20-17 victory that sent them to a second Super Bowl in the space of four years.

They lost to the New England Patriots to conclude the 2018 season and generational talent Donald remains without a ring.

Pass-rusher Von Miller, who tasted Super Bowl glory with the Denver Broncos in 2015 and joined the Rams in a mid-season trade, is desperate to get the team's inspirational figure over the hump.

With seven first-team All-Pro selections and eight Pro Bowl appearances to go with his three DPOY crowns, Miller believes defensive lineman Donald is on the brink of making it a complete career.

"It was great," Miller said to ESPN about Donald's message to the defense.

"He's been Aaron Donald - vocally, physically, emotionally. That's what leaders do. He's a great leader. 

"Like I said, a Super Bowl is all he needs. He could walk off into the sunset, and I'm going to do everything in my power to make that happen for him."

Donald pressured Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the decisive interception to linebacker Travin Howard that ensured the Rams would keep their three-point lead.

Matthew Stafford will be QB for the Rams in the Super Bowl this time around after Jared Goff played under center in that Patriots loss.

Stafford would have preferred to give the defense a seven-point lead to preserve at the end, but still had faith in a dominant unit.

"Wish we'd have put seven up there, it would have felt a whole lot better sitting on the sideline, but I've got so much trust in our defense, so much faith in those guys," he said.

"They went out there and did their thing and got the win.

"I'm so proud of this group. We've had high expectations all year, done nothing but everything in our power to try to meet those. 

"It's a terrific group we have in there. The game wasn't easy. It wasn't perfect in some spots, but we found a way to win and that's what it's all about. We've got some more work left to do."

Safety Eric Weddle had been retired for two years before making a comeback that will end with a fairy-tale Super Bowl appearance against the Cincinnati Bengals. 

"We were down and out," the veteran said. 

"AD rallied us. He asked us to give more. He said to let us be the reason we win this game. We knew what it meant to him."

And defensive coordinator Raheem Morris was also full of praise for Donald.

"That's what Aaron does," said. "He was vocal all week about what this game meant to him. 

"He calmed everybody down on the sideline and said to do right longer. There was no bigger moment [than the play on the interception]."

The Rams had lost their previous six meetings with the Niners but will now host Super Bowl LVI, looking for their first title since 1999, when they played in St. Louis.

Jaquiski Tartt was his own toughest critic after his dropped interception in the San Francisco 49ers' NFC Championship Game loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

The 49ers led 17-7 going into the fourth quarter, though the Rams soon trimmed that gap to three points with Cooper Kupp's second touchdown catch of the game from Matthew Stafford.

San Francisco looked destined to change the momentum with just under 10 minutes remaining as Stafford uncorked a deep shot intended for Van Jefferson but straight into the arms of Tartt, only for the Niners safety to let the ball slip from his grasp and to the turf.

The mistake did not lead to a touchdown as a Matt Gay field goal tied the game, but the Niners never managed to turn things back in their favour and a late Jimmy Garoppolo interception after another go-ahead kick from Gay gave the Rams victory.

And Tartt offered no excuses as he accepted blame for the agonising defeat.

"For me, it's tough. But it's a moment a lot of athletes I know dream of ... you can make that game-changing play," Tartt told a post-game media conference.

"It was something that I was thinking about all week. I know I can make that play, and the play came up and I ain't make it.

"I know that was a big play of the game, a big opportunity for me and for the team. As a player, I feel like I let my brothers down.

"But for us, we didn't play how we needed to play. ... Obviously my play was a crucial one that I left on the field. Really wish I can have it back, but at the end of the day, take your hat off to the Rams."

Asked what he thought as the ball was coming to him, Tartt replied: "I see it, I'm like 'Oh yeah, he f****d up. We about to win this game,'. It hit my hands. I thought I had it, and I dropped it."

Though Tartt will have nightmares about the would-be interception during the offseason, to lay the blame entirely at his feet would be overly harsh.

San Francisco still had two possessions after Gay's game-tying field goal and lost seven yards across those series as the offense completely collapsed when it most needed to step up and deliver.

Patrick Mahomes says he has an even greater appreciation for the NFL career of Tom Brady after the Kansas City Chiefs lost in the playoffs.

The Chiefs were shocked 27-24 by the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday.

Despite having star quarterback Mahomes and a dominant offense, the Chiefs only have one Super Bowl title to show from their four straight championship game appearances.

Mahomes believes it shows how difficult it is to go all the way and puts the spectacular feat of Brady – soon expected to confirm his retirement – winning a record seven Super Bowl crowns into perspective.

"His career is one of a kind,'' Mahomes said, per ESPN, after the Bengals rallied from 18 points behind to record a shock win at Arrowhead Stadium. 

"That's why he's the GOAT. To win that many Super Bowls and win that many games, it's hard. 

"I understand that. The years that I've had, I've been close a lot. 

"I've only been there twice, and I've only won once. I understand it takes a special player, a special group of guys, special circumstances for that to happen.

"I'm just going to try to do whatever I can to get myself a chance every year to get in that game and to win it.''

Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also fell short in 2021, losing to the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round.

That was a result that extended a long streak of teams being unable to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

It has not been done since Brady and the New England Patriots won the title in back-to-back seasons in 2003 and 2004.

The Rams will meet the Bengals at SoFi Stadium on February 13.

Patrick Mahomes accepted responsibility after the Kansas City Chiefs suffered a dramatic 27-24 overtime defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game.

The Chiefs were heavy favourites coming into Sunday's game at Arrowhead Stadium and quickly built up a 21-3 advantage.

Despite a Bengals response, Kansas City were still 11 points clear when they had the ball on the Cincinnati one-yard line just before half-time.

But they misjudged the clock and failed to add to their advantage, as time expiring after a completed pass to Tyreek Hill meant they could not even kick a field goal.

The Bengals then rallied in the second half to move ahead 24-21 and while the Chiefs were able to get the game to overtime, it was Cincinnati who came out on top.

Just 34 yards, two first downs and an interception from Mahomes came from the first five Kansas City drives in the second half as the offense went completely flat, costing the hosts victory.

"When you're up 21-3 in a game, you can't lose it, and I put that on myself," Mahomes said.

"I was supposed to throw the ball away [in the play before halftime]. I got a little greedy there and tried to give it to Tyreek and get a touchdown, they had two people out there. 

"In the long run of things, it looks bad, but if we had another chance, I'd go for another play again.

"There was a few misreads here and there. There was guys that were open and I didn't hit at the right time or I passed up on something shorter that I wanted to get something deeper down the field. 

"When you're playing a good team and you don't hit what's there and you try to get a little bit more than what's necessary it kind of bites you in the butt, I guess you would say. 

"We were playing so well in the first half and in the second half, we were just off a tick and that's all it takes to lose a football game."

The Chiefs have been to four straight championship games with Mahomes as starter. Their two defeats, in this game and to the New England Patriots in 2018, both came in overtime.

Mahomes added: "A few plays here and there we could have four chances at the Super Bowl.

"You can't let this end what we have here, you have to make sure you continue to battle, continue to get better and try to find ways to win Super Bowls.''

Defeat cost the Chiefs a chance to reach a third straight Super Bowl.

Head coach Andy Reid was reluctant to blame star quarterback Mahomes, who was intercepted by B.J. Hill in the third quarter before throwing another pick to Vonn Bell in OT.

"Patrick's a great player, he was trying to make a play," he said when asked if Mahomes had pressed too much as the Chiefs started to lose their lead.

"I have got to do a better job at giving him things that he can make plays with. I can do a lot better in that area. 

"I could've given him other things to work with, better things, better plays to work with."

Of the Chiefs' mistake at the end of the first half, Reid added: "I was hoping we could get the ball in the end zone.

"I probably gave him the wrong play first of all. To start with, I could've given him something better than that, where the play was open in the end zone, and then we wouldn't have had to go through that. 

"I'll take responsibility for that one."

Mahomes completed 26 of 39 attempts and threw three touchdowns as well as his two picks.

Kyle Shanahan insisted he would not be making a "farewell statement" to Jimmy Garoppolo in the wake of the San Francisco 49ers' defeat to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship game.

The Rams rallied to win 20-17 on Sunday at SoFi Stadium to seal progress to the Super Bowl, where they will face the Cincinnati Bengals at the same venue on February 13.

Los Angeles quarterback Matthew Stafford starred on the one-year anniversary of his trade to the Rams, leading three straight scoring drives to erase a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter, while Cooper Kupp caught two touchdown passes.

Aaron Donald's defensive work proved crucial in pressuring Garoppolo, who had a late, desperate throw intercepted by Travin Howard as the Rams became the first team fighting for a place at the Super Bowl to trail by double digits heading into the fourth quarter to then win a game.

Speculation is swirling over Garoppolo's future. The 30-year-old joined San Francisco for a record-breaking, $137.5million deal in 2017, and led them to the Super Bowl two years ago.

San Francisco are 35-16 when Garoppolo starts and 8-31 when he does not, yet it seems that the 49ers may well part ways with the quarterback, who has a year left to run on his deal. They traded up to three in last year's draft to bring in Trey Lance, who threw for 603 yards and five touchdowns across six appearances this season.

Shanahan, however, refused to confirm that Garoppolo had played his last game for the Niners.

"I love Jimmy," Shanahan said in his post-game news conference.

"I'm not going to sit here and make a farewell statement or anything right now. It's the last stuff on my mind. Jimmy has battled his a** off.

"He battled today. He did some unbelievable things today. I love coaching Jimmy."

Garoppolo completed 301 of his 441 passes in the regular season, for a completion rate of 68.3, ranking him sixth in the league. His 8.64 yards per pass attempt ranked second.

He completed 16 of his 30 passes on Sunday (a completion percentage of 53.3) for 232 yards and two touchdowns, though the sole interception proved crucial.

"[The emotions] hit pretty hard in the locker room," Garoppolo said.

"I think these next couple of days it will really start to settle in a little bit. Emotions are high after a game win or loss, and it's one of those things you've got to be glad it happened, smile from it, and think about the good things.

"We'll see what happens in these next couple days, weeks, whatever, but I love this team. Just the fight and the battle in this team throughout the entire year has been really impressive. I love those guys.

"I've got no regrets from this year."

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes says that bowing out of the postseason with an overtime loss in the AFC Championship Game cannot be seen as a success.

The Chiefs, competing in their third consecutive AFC Championship Game, went down 30-27 in overtime to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

Mahomes was dominant early with three touchdown passes in the first half as they opened up a 21-3 second-quarter lead, finishing the game completing 26 of 39 attempts for 275 yards.

But the Chiefs, champions two years ago and runners-up last season, let slip their lead with Mahomes' overtime pass intercepted by Vonn Bell before Evan McPherson's game-winning field goal.

"The leaders on this team know this isn't our standard," Mahomes said at the post-game news conference. "We want to win the Super Bowl.

"Whenever you taste winning the Super Bowl, anything less than that is not success. It's definitely disappointing.

"Here, with this group of guys that we have, we expect to be in that game and win that game, and anything less than that is not success.

"We'll go back and look at all the things we did well, the adversity we battled through, the team we became at the end of the season and try to learn from the mistakes we made and try to be better next year.''

Mahomes threw 11 touchdown passes in the postseason but the Chiefs were undone in defense against the Bengals, conceding 55 points in their two losses to the AFC champions across the season.

"Unfortunately this is final and that's where we sit now," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said at the post-game news conference.

"Our players are disappointed obviously. They've put a lot of time and effort into this, putting themselves into this position for a Championship Game, I'm proud of that."

The Los Angeles Rams would not be in the Super Bowl without two-touchdown NFC Championship Game hero Cooper Kupp, according to head coach Sean McVay.

The Rams edged the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 with quarterback Matthew Stafford finding Kupp for two touchdown passes.

Kupp had 11 receptions for 142 yards for the game, with his fourth-quarter TD helping them reel in a 10-point final-change deficit.

The 28-year-old led the NFL in the key receiver statistics with 145 receptions, 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns. Kupp has 386 receiving yards this postseason, which is the third all-time most in playoffs history before the Super Bowl.

"He's just a special player," McVay said at the post-game news conference. "I talked about Matthew [Stafford], competitive greatness, Cooper was that today.

"Just big catch after big catch. He's competing in the run game. He does so many things.

"We'd have no chance of being here today without Cooper Kupp."

The victory means the Rams have reached the Super Bowl for the second time in five seasons under McVay, having been beaten by the New England Patriots three years ago.

Stafford completed 31 of 45 passing attempts for 337 yards with his two touchdown passes for Kupp.

The Rams traded in 33-year-old QB Stafford from the Detroit Lions in March last year, with the move paying off.

"We went out and got him because we thought it was a chance to get a great player of his magnitude," McVay said. "Those things don’t come around often.

"He's elevated everybody around him. He's made me a better coach. He's made his teammates better. He's such a great person.

"He's a great competitor. We've seen that all season but it's really been on display this last couple of weeks. We talk about competitive greatness, he embodied that today."

Stafford endured years of under-achievement with the Lions, with only three postseason games which were all defeats, and was delighted to reach a Super Bowl for the first time in his 13-year career.

"I don’t know that I ever thought about what I'd be feeling at this moment," Stafford said. "I probably just sat there and wished I'd be in those games.

"I'm so happy that I've got that opportunity and we've got an opportunity to be in another one that I've always wanted to play in."

He added: "Long time coming, you know. [I] Spent a lot of years in this league, I've loved every minute of it. I feel blessed to be able to play in this league as long as I have. It's an opportunity."

The Los Angeles Rams rallied from a 10-point three-quarter time deficit to clinch a spot in Super Bowl LVI with a 20-17 NFC Championship Game victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

The Rams will face the Cincinnati Bengals at their home, SoFi Stadium, on Sunday February 13.

Matthew Stafford completed 31 of 45 attempts for 337 yards, combining with Cooper Kupp for two crucial touchdowns, including one in the fourth quarter alongside two Matt Gay field goals to overturn the deficit.

Gay put the Rams ahead from 30 yards with 1:46 left, before Aaron Donald pressured Jimmy Garoppolo into an interception for Travin Howard to practically end the game with 1:09 remaining.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr was excellent for the Rams too, with nine catches for 113 yards.

After a scoreless first quarter Stafford found Kupp, who starred with 11 catches for 142 yards, in the corner for the opening TD. But 49ers running back Deebo Samuel, who had seven carries for 76 yards and four receptions for 72 yards, levelled it up with a remarkable catch and run before Robbie Gould's field goal earned them a 10-7 half-time lead.

The 49ers moved 10 points clear when Garoppolo, who made 16 of 30 passes for 232 yards, threw another TD pass in the third quarter for George Kittle, but the Rams would rally with Stafford finding Kupp early in the fourth to narrow the gap.

Jaquiski Tartt inexplicably dropped a routine pick, allowing the Rams to drive forward for Gay to score from 40 yards. Five minutes later he did it again, before the Rams defense clinched the win.

The Cincinnati Bengals reached their first Super Bowl since 1989 after a pulsating 27-24 overtime win against the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday's AFC Championship Game.

Patrick Mahomes had started in inspired form at Arrowhead Stadium, delivering three touchdown passes to put the Chiefs 21-3 ahead, but the Bengals roared back in stunning fashion to move 24-21 in front.

A Harrison Butker field goal with three seconds left took the game to overtime, yet Evan McPherson ensured a memorable win for the Bengals with a field goal of his own.  

They will face either the Los Angeles Rams or the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVI in a fortnight.

Mahomes wasted little time in stamping his authority on the game, picking out Tyreek Hill in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown within the opening three minutes.

McPherson got the Bengals on the board with a field kick soon after, yet the Chiefs extended their advantage when Mahomes danced his way out of trouble to find Travis Kelce in the corner of the end zone.

The irrepressible Mahomes then found Mercole Hardman wide open for another touchdown, taking his total of pass touchdowns in this postseason to a record-equalling 11.

The Bengals, however, clawed their way back into the game when running back Samaje Perine raced 41 yards into the end zone.

McPherson reduced the deficit with another field goal, before B.J. Hill intercepted an uncharacteristically poor throw from Mahomes to give the Bengals an opportunity to draw level. They duly did courtesy of Ja'Marr Chase from Joe Burrow's lofted throw, with Trent Taylor grabbing the subsequent two-point conversion reception.

After McPherson and Butker exchanged field goals in the fourth quarter, the former sent another kick between the sticks following Vonn Bell's interception of Mahomes to seal one of the most remarkable comebacks in Championship Game history.

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