February 24, 2024

Jared Goff versus Everybody.

The Detroit Lions quarterback came out on the winning side Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — and fellow No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield — and now faces the other end of the spectrum.

The Lions are headed to the NFC championship game to play at the San Francisco 49ers, led by quarterback Brock Purdy, the last player selected in the 2022 draft.

In the AFC title game, it’s Kansas City at Baltimore for the right to play in Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas.

The Chiefs, who held on for a 27-24 victory at Buffalo, are headed for their sixth consecutive AFC championship game. That ties them for the second-longest such streak in NFL history.

Goff is already treading on historic ground. His Lions won back-to-back playoff games for the first time since 1957, having knocked off his old team, the Rams, in the wild-card round followed by a 31-23 divisional win over Tampa Bay.

The Lions made the NFC title game during the 1991 season, but began in the divisional round so they needed just one postseason win to get to the doorstep of the Super Bowl. This time, it took two wins.

The top-seeded 49ers, who will play at 3:30 p.m. PST Sunday, open as seven-point favorites.

Detroit is one of four teams to never have played in a Super Bowl, along with Cleveland, Houston and Jacksonville. Goff stood on the turf at Ford Field after the victory and soaked in the appreciation from the towel-twirling crowd.

Detroit linebacker Derrick Barnes celebrates after intercepting a pass from Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Detroit linebacker Derrick Barnes (55) celebrates with teammates after intercepting a pass from Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield to seal the Lions’ win Sunday.

(Rick Osentoski / Associated Press)

“They’re the best,” he said. “Look around right now. They’re not going to leave here for quite some time. And this is our last one in front of them and they were special tonight as they were last week. But they deserve it. They deserve this. They deserve to enjoy this and hope to give them a lot more moving forward.”

Goff is 3-6 in his starts against the 49ers, the first nine of those coming in his years with the Rams. He grew up in the Bay Area as a 49ers fan and played collegiately at Cal, where the Rams made him the No. 1 pick in 2016.

“I get to go back home … play in front of some friends and family,” he said on the NBC broadcast. “[The 49ers] are a great team and it will be a great matchup.”

San Francisco advanced to the conference championship game Saturday night with a closer-than-expected, 24-21 victory over Green Bay.

The AFC matchup pits two-time most valuable player Patrick Mahomes and Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, in line for his second MVP honor. They kick off at noon.

For the second consecutive year, the Bills lost at home in the divisional round.

“The defense, they turned it on in that fourth quarter,” Mahomes said of his teammates in the CBS postgame interview. “That is a great offense and a great football player in [Bills quarterback] Josh Allen, and a great team. They were going up and down the field, and the defense said, `Enough is enough.’ They got the stops.”

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