Cow­boys, Chiefs ad­vance in NFL play­offs

The Phnom Penh Post - - SPORT -

ARECORD-SET­TING rush­ing per­for­mance sparked the Los An­ge­les Rams over Dal­las and into the NFL play­off semi-fi­nals on Satur­day a long­side with Kansas Cit y Chiefs, whose de­fen­sive unit dom­i­nated in a lop­sided v ic­tor y over In­di­anapo­lis.

CJ An­der­son ran 23 times for 123 yards and t wo touch­downs while Todd Gur­ley added 115 yards and a touch­down on 16 car­ries as the host Rams ripped t he Cow­boys 30-22 in a Na­tional Con­fer­ence play­off game.

“It was in­cred­i­ble what they did,” Rams quar­ter­back Jared Goff said of his block­ers and rush­ers. “We k now this de­fence and we pre­pared for it well. We ra n t he ball well. It started with Todd. CJ added to it. We did it rea lly well.”

The Rams will face ei­ther top seed New Or­leans or de­fend­ing cham­pion Philadel­phia next week­end in the con­fer­ence fi­nal with a trip to Su­per Bowl 53 next month in At la nta at sta ke.

At Kansas Cit y, Patrick Ma­homes threw for 278 yards and ran for a touch­down while Damien Wil­liams ran for 129 yards and a touch­down to lead the Chiefs over In­di­anapo­lis 31-13, snap­ping a 25-year NFL home play­off win drought that saw Kansas Cit y lose si x st ra ight.

“We played a great ‘ team’ footba ll game,” Ma­homes said. “The de­fence did amaz­ing and t he of fence did enough to get the win in t he end.”

The Chiefs will host next week’s Amer­i­can Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game against Sun­day’s win­ner be­tween the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers and New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots for a bert h in t he Fe­bruar y 3 cham­pi­onship spec­ta­cle.

“There’s a lot of con­fi­dence, a lot of chemistr y and a lot of guys play ing t heir ta i ls of f for each ot her,” Chiefs co­cap­tain Trav is Kelce said.

Rams big on fourth down

The Rams ran 48 times for 273 yards, eclips­ing their old post-sea­son rush­ing mark from 1986 against Dal­las by four yards, and in­flict­ing the best rush­ing to­tal of the cam­paign against the Cow­boys.

An­der­son and Gur­ley were the first t wo Rams rush­ers to crack 100 yards in the same play­off game.

Two cru­cia l fourth-down plays by the Rams in t he fourt h quar­ter proved piv­ota l. L A stopped Dal­las on downs to open the fi­nal pe­riod, then the Rams drove to the Cow­boys goal-line, dis­dain­ing a point-blank field goal at­tempt to seek a touch­down, which An­der­son ob­tained on a 1-yard run to give the Rams a 30-15 lead wit h 7:16 to play.

Dak Prescott scored on a 1-yard touch­down run with 2:11 re­main­ing to l i f t t he Cow­boys within the fi­nal mar­gin but the Rams took the ball and ran out the clock for t he v ic­tor y.

Greg Zuer­lein k icked a 25-yard field goal for t he Rams to open t he scor­ing but the Cow­boys an­swered on Prescott’s 29-yard touch­down pass to Amari Cooper for a 7-3.

Zuer­lein added a 23-yard field goal and the Rams re­gained the lead on An­der­son’s 1-yard touch­down run, t hen stretched it to 20-7 at half-time af ter Gur­ley’s 35yard touch­down scam­per with 3:27 re­main­ing i n the sec­ond quar­ter.

Zuer­lein added a 44-yard field goal early i n t he t hird quar­ter but the Cow­boys re­sponded with a touch­down drive capped by Ezekiel El­liott’s 1-yard touch­down run and a 2-point Prescott con­ver­sion pass to Cooper.

Chiefs dom­i­nate early

After reach­ing t heir first con­fer­ence fi­nal in a quar­ter­centur y, t he Chiefs will tr y to re­turn to the Su­per Bowl for t he first time since 1970.

“We’ve got two more to go,” Ma­homes said. “I’m happy we’re play­ing the next one here in front of our home fans.”

Ma­homes, who com­pleted 27 of 41 passes, di­rected touch­down drives of 70 and 90 yards on Kansas Cit y’s first t wo pos­ses­sions to seize com­mand, Wil­liams scor­ing on a 10-yard run and Ty reek Hill rush­ing 36 yards into the end zone, while the Colts, who won 10 of their prior 11 games, man­aged only 12 yards in the open­ing quar­ter.

Har­ri­son Butker added a 39-yard Chiefs field goal but the Colts scored when Na­jee Goode smoth­ered a Dustin Colquitt punt – his first block suf­fered in five years – and Indy’s Zach Pas­cal re­cov­ered t he ball in t he end zone.

Kansas Cit y re­sponded with a touch­down drive capped by a 4-yard touch­down dive by Ma­homes for a 24-7 Chiefs half-time edge.

Ma­homes, who passed for 5,097 yards and 50 touch­downs t his sea­son, threw for 195 yards in t he first half, t he most in a playof f de­but since 2003.

Luck con­nected with TY Hilton on a 29-yard touch­down pass with 5:31 re­main­ing but Adam Vi­natieri was wide right on the con­ver­sion k ick and the Chiefs cre­ated the fi­nal mar­gin off a 6-yard Dar­rel Wil­liams touch­down run.

SEAN M HAFFEY/GETTY IMAGES/AFP

CJ An­der­son (with the ball) of the Los An­ge­les Rams cel­e­brates after a 1 yard touch­down run against the Dal­las Cow­boys in the NFC Di­vi­sional Play­off game on Satur­day in Los An­ge­les.

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