NFL play-offs: San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers win

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Patrick Mahomes
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed 30 of 39 passes for 404 yards and five touchdowns
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The San Francisco 49ers held off a late fightback by the Dallas Cowboys to claim a thrilling 23-17 win and earn the first upset of the NFL play-offs.

Day two of wildcard weekend also saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cruise to a 31-15 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

And the Kansas City Chiefs, who Tampa Bay beat in last year’s Super Bowl, beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 42-21.

That result ended Ben Roethlisberger’s career after 18 years and two Super Bowl wins as the Steelers quarterback.

Deebo Samuel
Deebo Samuel ran for 72 yards and scored one of two touchdowns for the 49ers

Dallas came into wildcard weekend as the third seed in the NFC Conference so hosted the sixth seed, fellow five-time Super Bowl winners San Francisco.

Last week’s overtime win over the Los Angeles Rams saw the 49ers clinch a play-off spot on the final day of the regular season and set up a mouthwatering clash with their old rivals Dallas.

The NFL heavyweights had three Super Bowl wins apiece between 1989 and 1996, and met in the play-offs three years running during that spell.

And their first play-off meeting since 1995 lived up to expectations, despite a slow start by Dallas.

Elijah Mitchell gave the 49ers an early lead with a rushing touchdown while San Francisco kicked three field goals to lead 16-7 at half-time, with Dak Prescott finding Amari Cooper for a 20-yard touchdown to get the Cowboys on the board.

Deebo Samuel ran for the 49ers’ second touchdown right after Prescott was intercepted in the third quarter, and they still led 23-7 early in the fourth.

But Dallas began a pulsating fourth quarter with a fake punt to keep their drive alive and kick a field goal, before Prescott punished a Jimmy Garoppolo interception by running in a five-yard touchdown with 8:02 left.

Dallas got the ball back with 2:51 on the clock but Prescott’s deep shot was just beyond the grasp of a diving Cedrick Wilson.

The Cowboys got the ball back again with just 32 seconds left and swiftly got within range of San Francisco’s end zone, but rather than go for a touchdown from 41 yards, a chaotic finish saw Prescott elect to run for a few more yards and time expired as Dallas failed to spike the ball in time for one last play.

San Francisco now face another tantalising match-up in next week’s divisional round away to NFC top seed the Green Bay Packers.

Chiefs and Bucs stay on course for Super Bowl return

Tom Brady
Tom Brady completed 29 of 37 passes, for two touchdowns and 271 yards

The Kansas City Chiefs stayed on course for a third straight Super Bowl after a blistering spell of five touchdowns in 11 minutes either side of half-time.

After a scoreless first quarter, Pittsburgh took the lead with a defensive touchdown as the league’s sack-leader TJ Watt ran it in after recovering a Chiefs fumble.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes then got the hot hand, making touchdown passes to Jerick McKinnon, Byron Pringle and Travis Kelce in the second quarter, then Nick Allegretti and Tyreek Hill in the third. The 2018 MVP completed 30 of 39 passes for 404 yards.

Tight end Kelce even passed to Pringle for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and although the Steelers were well beaten by the AFC’s second seed, Roethlisberger ended the game with two touchdown passes.

In 18 years with Roethlisberger under centre, Pittsburgh never had a losing season and the 39-year-old steered them to victory in Super Bowls 40 and 43.

The six-time Pro Bowler ends his career fifth on the all-time list for passing yards, and eighth for touchdown passes.

Kansas City and Tampa Bay, the NFC’s second seed, will both be at home next week, with the Bucs beating Philadelphia 31-15, a scoreline which flattered the visiting Eagles.

Philadelphia led the league for rushing yards but were stifled by the Bucs, while Tom Brady completed 29 of 37 passes, for two touchdowns and 271 yards.

The seven-time Super Bowl winner, 44, led two first-quarter drives which resulted in rushing scores for Giovani Bernard and Ke’Shawn Vaughn.

The reigning champions lead 17-0 at half-time before Brady made two touchdown passes in the third quarter, to Rob Gronkowski and Mike Evans, to ensure the Bucs cruised into week two of the play-offs.

After being shut out for the first three quarters, Boston Scott got the Eagles on the board by rushing for a 34-yard touchdown while quarterback Jalen Hurts found Kenneth Gainwell for another score to salvage some pride.

Divisional Round schedule (away teams first, kick-offs in GMT)

Saturday, 22 January

Cincinnati Bengals v Tennessee Titans (21:30)

San Francisco 49ers v Green Bay Packers (01:15)

Sunday, 23 January

Arizona Cardinals/LA Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers (20:00)

Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs (23:30)

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