Cowboys, Chiefs advance in NFL playoffs
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.
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.