After the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles beat the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants respectively, all eyes were on the remaining Divisional Round matchups Sunday, with the Buffalo Bills facing the Cincinnati Bengals and the San Francisco 49ers hosting the Dallas Cowboys.
The Bills fell to the Bengals 27-10, and the 49ers defeated the Cowboys 19-12.
Here’s what else you need to know.
Twenty days after suffering cardiac arrest in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin was in attendance as the Bills once again faced the Bengals, this time in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.
But the Bengals prevailed despite Buffalo’s homefield advantage and the emotional lift of having Hamlin in the stadium.
The CBS broadcast of the game showed Hamlin arriving by cart and entering the Bills’ locker room wearing sunglasses, a face covering and a jacket sold through his Chasing M’s clothing line with a hood pulled up. Hamlin’s mother Nina, father Mario, and younger brother Damir were also shown entering the stadium.
Later, a video posted to social media showed Hamlin walking from the locker room to an elevator while being shielded by security officials.
During the game, Hamlin’s attendance was announced on the stadium public address system, drawing an ovation from the crowd at Highmark Stadium. CBS showed video of Hamlin hyping up the crowd by making his signature heart-shaped gesture with his hands and urging the crowd to make noise by raising his arms.
With a steady snow falling in western New York and all the emotion tilting in the Bills’ direction, the Bengals came out of the gate strong. A pair of Joe Burrow touchdown passes gave Cincinnati an early 14-0 lead, and the Bengals took a 17-7 lead into halftime.
The Bengals maintained a comfortable advantage, leading by 14 points heading into the fourth quarter, while the Cincinnati defense stifled the Buffalo offense throughout the contest. The Bills’ attack could never get any momentum going and only managed to get into the end zone one time in the game.
Cincinnati now advances to face the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game. The Chiefs will host the Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium next Sunday with kickoff scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET.
The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 19-12 to advance to the team’s second consecutive NFC championship game on Sunday.
The San Francisco defense came out swinging, shutting down the Cowboys’ elusive offense. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott struggled against the unit, throwing for 206 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. One of Dallas’ bright spots on offense was wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, who finished with 117 yards receiving.
49ers rookie quarterback sensation Brock Purdy continued to go from Mr. Irrelevant to Mr. Relevant. He improved to 7-0 as the starter after taking over for an injured Jimmy Garropolo in mid-December. Purdy threw for 214 yards in the win.
The Cowboys’ kicking struggles seemed to continue from last week’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kicker Brett Maher got off to another rough start, having his extra point blocked after missing four extra-point attempts the previous week. Maher would go on to rebound from the blocked kick, knocking down two field goals afterward.
The 49ers will now head to Philadelphia to play the Eagles in the NFC championship game and have a chance to clinch their spot in the Super Bowl for the second time since 2019. The game is scheduled for next Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.
Super Bowl LVII is scheduled for February 12 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.