KANSAS CITY, Mo. – And then there was the last word.
And last laugh.
Not only did the Kansas City Chiefs punch a ticket to Super Bowl 57 by extracting revenge against the Cincinnati Bengals in a classic AFC title game, they made the ultimate statement to answer the over-the-top trash talk.
"I think guys were probably the most pumped up I’ve ever seen them going into a football game," Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said after the 23-20 win. "Lot of trash talk coming from a lot of different places."
There was no shortage of bulletin board material to add spice to what has quickly become one of the NFL’s hottest rivalries. In the week leading up to the rematch – and fourth meeting in 13 months between the teams – the Chiefs seemed to take in every word.
If it wasn’t enough for Bengals players to rename Arrowhead Stadium as “Burrowhead Stadium” to drive home the point that Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow hadn’t lost in Kansas City, it was the utterly bizarre action coming from Cincinnati mayor Aftab Pureval, who had the gall to publicly suggest that Burrow to take a maternity test to prove whether he is the father of the Chiefs star.
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"Know your role, and shut your mouth, you jabroni,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce shot back at the mayor during a postgame interview with CBS, using a catchphrase from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
When asked what in particular fired up the Chiefs, Mahomes said, "You got 'Burrowhead,' I mean they beat us last time and they were talking about, 'We got to play them.' There was a lot of stuff. I mean, the mayor came at me. I understand he’s the mayor of Cincinnati, so he has to think about something. But it’s something (where) you just got to play the football game and let your play do the talking."
Mahomes did his talking by throwing for 326 yards and two touchdowns, without an interception. And while nursing a high ankle sprain, he scrambled on third down for a first down that – aided by a penalty for a late hit – set up Harrison Butker’s game-winning field goal with three seconds left.
Which, of course, set up parting shot from Kelce.
During his postgame news conference, the tight end declared, "Cincinnati was a better city when Jerry Springer was mayor."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chiefs answer Bengals' trash talk with AFC title win, Super Bowl berth