A wonderful weekend of football featured the NFL's conference championship games on Sunday and included Saturday's NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
The Collegiate Bowl featured a roster of players that were either trying to get the attention of pro teams, or further improve their draft stock. It's tough enough to get first and second-rounders to commit to playing in a regular bowl game, let alone an all-star game. But that's exactly what these postseason collections of East-West and North-South squads used to be -- true all-star games.
On Saturday, South Dakota University's Bijan Nichols split the uprights on a 24-yard walk-off field goal to lift the American team to a 19-17 win over the National team. Nicholls had just been added to the roster on the Wednesday night before the game.
East Carolina QB Holton Ahlers, also playing for the American side, was named the game's MVP after throwing 189 yards and 2 touchdowns while completing 9-of-12 passes. He also had 4 rushes for another 22 yards.
Titus Swen of Wyoming, another player on the American roster, led all rushers with 73 yards on 8 carries, including a couple of big gainers on the game-winning drive.
Former NFL head coach Jeff Fisher was the coach of the American squad while his former star running back with the Tennessee Titans, Eddie George, led the National team.
49er quarterback Brock Purdy suffered an elbow injury early in the game and journeyman Josh Johnson would later get injured to force an ineffective return of Purdy. Meanwhile, the Eagles' offense complimented a stiff defense and easily soared to a 31-7 win in the "City of Brotherly Love".
Johnson has played for an NFL record 14 teams in 15 seasons, and also had stints in the United Football League, the Alliance of American Football and the XFL.
Touchdown runs by Hurts, Miles Sanders and Boston Scott provided the main punches for Philadelphia while Christian McCaffrey was about the only spark for San Francisco. McCaffrey led all rushers with 84 yards on 15 carries, but the 49ers only ran 42 plays for the entire game as the Eagles controlled the ball for 37:26 to the Niners' 22:34.
The Eagles' Lane Johnson recentently shared some encouraging news on his groin injury ahead of the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs won on Harrison Butker's 45-yard field goal with 3 seconds left after a critical penalty for a late hit on the previous play made the final kick possible. Otherwise, this game would have almost certainly gone to overtime and Joe Burrow would have more time to potentially continue his dominance of Patrick Mahomes in this fledgling rivalry.
Instead, it's Mahomes who is headed back to the Super Bowl after the 23-20 victory on Sunday ended his personal 0-3 record against Burrow.
This will mark the fourth straight Super Bowl with either Kansas City or Cincinnati representing the AFC with the Chiefs being routed 31-9 by Tom Brady and Tampa Bay two years ago, and the Bengals falling 23-20 to the LA Rams last year. Kansas City defeated San Francisco 31-20 three years ago.
Get the latest odds from the FanDuel Sportsbook for this year's Super Bowl on February 12.
In Sunday's game, the teams traded field goals until Mahomes' 14-yard connection with Travis Kelce put the Chiefs up 13-3 with just 3:53 to go in the first half. Cincinnati answered a chip shot field goal as the second quarter time expired.
The teams swapped TD's over the next 28:30 with the Burrow teaming up with Tee Higgins on Cincinnati's first possession of the 3rd quarter. But the Chiefs answered on their ensuing opportunity with Mahomes' 19-yard pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling putting the finishing touches on a 77-yard, 11-play drive.
After a Cincinnati punt and a KC fumble, the Bengals tied the game back up at 20 with Samaje Perine's 2-yard run just a minute-and-a-half into the final quarterback. There would be no more scoring until the game-winning FG as the Chiefs punted twice and the Bengals' possessions ended with an interception and a punt.